Summer will be here before we know it, and for many parents it means one thing – the kids going off to sleep-away camps. If you live in the South Bay, consider your family lucky because within a three-hour drive, the kids can enjoy some time away from the everyday routine and live it up while having a classic summer camp experience. Here are four excellent sleep-away camps, and an informational camp fair, all fairly close to South Bay.

Point Reyes National Seashore Association Summer Camp
Clem Miller Environmental Education Center
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
(415) 663-1200

Boasting three camps, one especially geared to teens, Point Reyes Summer Camp provides exciting and fun camp experiences for young people. Here campers are immersed in the world of nature as they learn, grow and most importantly, have fun together working as teams. The camp prides itself on being committed to sustainability since its beginnings in the 1970s, and campers learn a leave-no-trace ethics while in the field. Facilities at The Clem Miller Environmental Education Center, which is the camp’s home base, include a beautiful cedar lodge with a dining hall, science room and kitchen, plus four dormitory-style cabins. There are centrally located bathhouses with hot showers as well. Campers “are given choices for their activities including tidepooling, hiking, bird watching, exploring mudflats, improvisational theater, earth art, crafts and more,” as they work and learn together. Camp sessions are from four to six days for ages seven through 16. Visit the camp website for full session information and further camp details.

Douglas Ranch Camps
33200 E. Carmel Valley Road
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
(831) 659-2761

A small, traditional camp, Douglas is an independent resident facility that maintains its long-standing values from the camps’ founding in 1925. Campers participate in a core, structured program of activities that allows campers to learn new skills they might not have had the opportunity to learn otherwise. Located in Carmel Valley, approximately one hour south of San Jose, Douglas offers a full day of structured activities that all campers participate in with other campers their age, and evening activities that are kept as surprises until that evening to increase camper anticipation. Enrollment is for one- to four-week sessions. See the Douglas Ranch website for full details.

Related: Best Resources For Homeschool Families In The East Bay

Camp SEA Lab
California State University Monterey Bay
100 Campus Center, Building 42
Seaside, CA 93955
(831) 582-3681

Camp SEA Lab includes a residential camp for ages 10 to 13, offering an extensive opportunity to experience the marvels of marine life and its environment. The programs here center on taking advantage of the wealth of resources throughout the central coast. The camp is affiliated with California State University Monterey Bay, and offers families affordable. high-quality educational programs studying environmental subjects within the Monterey Bay area for grades K-12 in local Bay Area communities and beyond. Health and safety are primary concerns, and each site is selected for its commitment to maintaining a safe environment. Activities include dynamic lessons about the ocean, field trips, kayaking, surfing, games, art projects and on-the-water experiences for busy days, plus at night there are hikes, songs and activities around the campfire, including s’mores. Campers learn in teams just why the marine environment is so cool. The Residential Camp is June 17 to 21, 2013 and the cost is $775 for non-members/$736 with a family membership. Registration is limited to 30 campers. Visit the Camp SEA Lab site for full summer camp information, policies and online registration.

Camp Winnarainbow
50350 N. Highway 101
Laytonville, CA 95454
(707) 984-6507

This unique visual and performing arts camp was founded by Wavy Gravy, a former clown best known as an entertainer and peace activist easily identified by his playful, colorful appearance, who remains one of the camp’s directors. Featured activities are arts and crafts, aquatic activities, clowning, dance, drama, gymnastics, music, martial arts, nature/environmental studies and performing arts. Additional camp activities inlcude sports like baseball and softball games, leadership development, swimming, soccer and team building. The camp, open to campers aged seven to 14, is nestled in a forested area of beautiful Mendocino County bordered by two year-round streams. Meals are served family style and prepared by a multi-talented staff. Vegetarian, vegan and most other dietary options are accommodated, as campers and staff share meals in an open-air setting. There are five one-week ($840) and two-week ($1675) sessions, from June 24 through August 17, 2013. The Winnarainbow Camp’s colorful website is chock full of photos, videos and camp information for kids and their parents.

Marin Summer Camp Fair
Dominican University of California
1475 Grand Ave.
San Rafael, CA 94901

This free-to-the-public fair will have representatives available to answer questions about summer camps in Marin County. Representatives of popular camps will be on hand to showcase their offerings. This is a community event managed by the Dominican University Athletic Department and Camp Doodles as a service to families and camps in Marin County. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 9, 2013 and includes a pizza lunch.

Related: Best Bay Area Summer Camps

Melanie Graysmith is a freelance writer and artist based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. Melanie is a member of an independent filmmaking group and aims to spin her stories into film. Her work can be found at