Pacific Sun: Food & Drink: Camp cuisine
“Chef Ryan Smith carries on culinary tradition at Steve & Kate’s Camp
Read Pacific Sun’s full post here.
In an effort to continue to raise the camp’s culinary bar, in August of 2015, the founders hired chef Ryan Smith as their in-house chef and food program designer. The 32-year-old California Culinary Academy graduate, who hails from San Jose and has spent much of his career cooking in South Bay kitchens, is in charge of developing recipes that will be prepared for thousands of summer campers across the country.
“My goal is to make every single item a well-balanced meal,” says Smith, who was so inspired by the opportunity at Steve & Kate’s that he was lured away from a corporate chef job with the food service management group Bon Appétit. “The opportunity to feed kids and give them insight to where their food comes from was too compelling to pass up.”
Washington Post Express: These campers choose their own adventures
“Summer camp, the age-old childhood rite of passage, was once the realm of muggy mosquito-laden bunkhouses, sunburns, perpetually soggy bathing suits and s’mores-stickied fingers.
But in 2016, the summer experience can be so much more.”
“For families seeking a blend of that traditional camp experience combined with a modern, tech-savvy touch, there’s Steve and Kate’s Camp,a San Francisco-based outfit with locations in nine states and the District.”
“Steve and Kate’s Camp evokes a laid-back aura true to its California roots, complemented by the company’s Silicon Valley-inspired innovative approaches to everything from programming to payment.”
“Celesta Kirk, a community director for the camp’s newest Bethesda location, said that unlike at more traditional camps, campers are not grouped by ages or even grouped at all. Kids are free to roam for as long as they like between “studios,” allowing them to chose their own activities and plan their won days, which gives youngsters the power to exercise their independence and judgement, Kirk said.”
Read T.Rees Shapiro’s (The Washington Post) full article here.
Chicago Tribune: Summer day camps in Chicago and the suburbs
“Working parents’ worries dissipate as they contemplate Steve & Kate’s model. The day can begin as early as 7:30 and go till 6 p.m., and kids aren’t twiddling their thumbs. They’re exercising a Montessori-like freedom to visit the style studio (sewing, knitting and materials); breadmaking studio (ovens and yeast bread ingredients), music studio (karaoke and sound booths that record tracks), animation studio (to record films), dance studio (expert-choreographed routines); plus an outdoor playground (on the school campuses that Steve & Kate’s takes over). New this year is a coding studio (with fun STEM apps). ”
Read Just Kidding Chicago’s full post here.
SmartUp Article: Startup Camp (Parts 1 & 2)
“Steve’s Camp, founded in 1980, was designed with a simple yet powerful concept –– getting out of the kids’ way. “For me it’s much more about the kids’ starting to use their own judgment. They’ve got a lot of ideas. It’s about giving them choices, learning to course correct.” This eventually developed into a guiding philosophy: “Our camp conforms to kids, not the other way around.”
“Activities were designed around campers’ learning to express themselves and explore their passions and potential in the arts, performance, sports, and recreation. Steve sought fresh products, technology and experiences designed for the kids. His was the first camp to feature “Kangoo Jumps” jumping shoes. They brought in an inflatable bouncy house, and had kids drive electric Bathtub Racers. They adapted a local invention, the “Batting Buddy”, to help kids learn to hit baseballs. Steve didn’t want to mimic standard sports, so his team designed an inflatable, mini soccer arena. “You’d touch the ball more, score more,” he said. “The goal was bigger.” He did the same for tennis, shortening the court and using low compression balls to make it easier to learn how to control them. “With a lot of sports, kids should be at an advantage,” Steve said. “But most sports are not scaled for kids.””
Read Jonathan Littman’s full article here.
Mommy Poppins Article: Best New Summer Day Camps for NYC Kids 2015
“Every camp-planning season, we here at Mommy Poppins scour the city looking for enriching new summer programs for our been-there, done-that kids. To help you make an informed decision about the new camps on the block, we’ve rounded up nine of the most promising programs set to debut this summer. Some are brand-new, others are places that are significantly expanding their already awesome offerings.
“Steve & Kate’s Camp – Bay Area mainstay Steve & Kate’s Camp debuts its first-ever NYC program, which features its signature free-form structure. Campers explore subjects like animation, fashion, computer coding, bread baking and dance in the camp’s high-tech studio at their own pace. Once they’ve had their fill, they can move on to other activities like sports in an inflatable kid-size stadium, or watching live performances. Lunch is a globally-inspired, five-course affair. Perhaps the best part is the camp’s endless flexibility: Families can buy day passes, which can even be used at the camp’s other regional locations. If at the end of the summer it turns out you paid for more days than you used, you get a refund. I know it sounds too good to be true but I spoke with the owners and they assured me it’s not. Steve & Kate’s Camp could really shake things up for summer programs in NYC.”
Read Stephanie Ogozalek’s full article here.
Parent Map Article: 21st-Century Camp Trends for Puget Sound Families
“Responding to the needs of busy parents whose work, life and vacation schedules don’t match the typical five-day workweek (or camp session), some camps offer new kinds of schedules and options…
“Steve and Kate’s Camp is relatively new to the Seattle area, managing three camps for grades K–7 (in Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma) with a uniquely flexible enrollment policy and philosophy. The day camp offers highly specialized “studios” for activities such as dance, music, bread making and animation, along with many outdoor activities. The difference? There is no “schedule” — kids get a full choice of activities. Parents are “recognizing kids’ needs for developing passions over fitting into a rigid structure,” says camp partner Mike Saperstein. Conveniently, the camp allows parents to purchase day passes to use as needed according to the family’s work schedule.”
Read the full article by Joanna Nesbit.
Red Tricycle NYC Article: New in NYC!: The Summer Camp You Need to Know About.
“Living in NYC, we’re surrounded by choices, and when it comes to picking a summer camp for the kid, things are no different. It can be tough: Sports? Overnight? STEM? Theater? What if you (or more to the point, the camper in the family) didn’t have to choose? What if they could do it all, or just one, just the way they wanted? That’s essentially the promise of Steve & Kate’s Camp, a West Coast-bred day camp chain debuting in the East Village this summer.”
Check out the full article by Mimi O’Connor here.
Pacific Sun Magazine Hall of Fame
Pacific Sun Magazine added us to their Hall of Fame for winning ‘Best Summer Camp’ six years in a row.
Steve & Kate’s Camp voted Best Summer Camp 2014 in LA Parent’s Magazine
Steve & Kate’s Camp was voted Best Summer Camp 2014 in LA Parent’s Magazine.
Steve & Kate’s Camp named Best Camp in 2013 and 2014 by South Sound Magazine
Steve & Kate’s Camp -Tacoma was named Best Camp two years in a row in South Sound Magazine.
Pasadena Now article: A Camp That’s Poles Apart
Summer camps thrive in following a strict schedule and system. If not, the sheer number of kids and the organization of activities would overwhelm the camp. Steve & Kate’s Camp is diametrically opposite, and therein lies its unique and genius setup.
“There’re two things that have really distinguished us from the rest since the start of the camp in 1980. One is the educational philosophy of [the] camp where the kids choose their own activities; and one where the activities are set up to promote self-directed learning,” says Mike Saperstein, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Steve & Kate’s Camp. What this means is that kids are not pressured to do activities they are not interested in, nor are they forced to work with a time limit.
“The kids work at their own pace and develop skills at their own pace which is much more comfortable to them. The counselors who are in the studios, instead of leading a class with a particular agenda, they’re working with the kids individually at their respective paces,” says Saperstein.
The counselors find out what the kids need and give them the resources they need. Whether the kid needs basic help or a long mentorship, the counselors do what it takes to help the kids complete their projects.
“The counselors interact with the kids differently according to their ability and different levels,” adds Saperstein.
Another unique system that the camp employs is more for the parents’ benefit.
“We have this unique model where parents can buy any number of days, and attend any time they’d like during the summer. They’re guaranteed space at camp and if they don’t use all of their day passes during the summer, they get a full automatic refund for any unused days,” Saperstein explains.
Families with plans to go on summer vacation will find this very useful, where they don’t have to plan summer outings around the summer camp’s schedule, but rather schedule the summer camp around the family’s timetable.
Typical days at the summer camp are “really defined by each child individually. So no two days will look exactly the same since the kids chose for themselves” says Saperstein.
Aside from the activities, the camp also has Show Specials every once in awhile to provide entertaining distractions for the kids.
“It can range from something like a stage combat workshop to an educational show on reptiles,” Saperstein says, “it can also be pure entertainment like concerts at camp and people who do magic shows.”
Parents who worry about their kids’ nutrition will be glad to know that lunch and snacks are included with the fee, and the lunch program itself is “designed by our in-house chef who used to be the executive chef at Google [and] we’re offering a whole range of really great diverse lunches,” says Saperstein.
The full article can be found on the Pasadena Now website.
Red Tricycle article: An Unbelievably Cool Summer Camp Comes to Chicago
In your little buddy’s dream world, Mickey Mouse lives next door, the mailman delivers comic books, and lollipops are a food group.
Until this fantasy becomes reality, introduce your kid to the next-best thing: Steve & Kate’s Camp. A mainstay in the Bay Area since 1980, the trailblazer is about to open five locations in Chicago and the North Shore, just in time for summer fun. Its unique formula — allowing kids the freedom to independently choose their own adventures every day, with group powwows along the way — has given it a cult following like nothing else we’ve seen.
What’s in a day?
It’s all up to the kids. Steve & Kate’s Camp revolves around the idea that campers should have their choice of activity in order to build confidence and stay engaged. To that end, there aren’t strict schedules that lock groups into set periods of craft, sports or science time. Instead, kids can spend the days doing any of the available activities they like — for as long as they like.
There are several regular offerings, as well as lots of surprises. Every day, from 7:30 am – 6:00 pm, kids can explore six themed “studios,” which are like exploration areas staffed with trained counselors. Studios include style (sewing, knitting, crafting), cooking, dancing, building, music recording, and stop-motion animation. Along with that, each week brings special amusements, which can range from rock-climbing walls to zip lines to huge water slides to parachute “rockets.”
To give this whole utopic world some structure — and provide campers with time to interact on a more personal level with their friends and counselors — each day includes designated small-group time. It’s spent playing games, coming together for huddles and chatting about how things are going.
How ’bout live entertainment?
Once a week, campers are treated to live shows featuring Chicago entertainers. And not just any entertainers. This summer, kids will be wowed by Peter Nestler, the Guinness Book of World Records holder for Most Consecutive Jumps on a Unicycle in One Minute. They’ll also bring in Scales and Tails, an animal presenter that comes equipped with a Burmese python by the name of “Julius Squeezer.” Local magicians and musicians will also make the rounds.
Any snacks or food?
There are snacks throughout the day, as well as a full lunch, and it’s all included in the tuition. Food comes from local vendors and purveyors whenever possible. In fact, Steve & Kate’s has an arrangement with Door to Door Organics, a CSA that will use the five camp locations as drop-off points. The ingredients will be used in snacks and lunches, as well as in studio cooking lessons.
What ages is the camp for?
Any child that’s entering kindergarten through 7th grade can participate. All activities are mixed-age. Counselors understand that the younger ones might need a little extra help or encouragement. So through a concept called Kindercamp, guides are available to be at smaller children’s sides, helping with more technical projects (like stop-motion animation and building), as well as the essential everyday stuff, like washing hands and putting on sunscreen.
This sounds fab. How much?
There are a few options when it comes to money. Day passes are less expensive if you buy them in bulk. Buy one or more at once for $80 per day, buy five or more at once for $76 per day, and buy 20 or more at once for $64 per day. If you don’t use all of your days, you get a full, automatic refund for the days you missed.
If you’re in for the summer-long haul, the best bet is to buy a membership at $2,240 per child. Again, if you don’t use all the days, you get a full, automatic refund for the days you missed.
Variety magazine article: Free-Form Camp Fires Up Young Minds
Steve and Kate’s Camp didn’t set out to cater to the children of folks at Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic and the like, but given their philosophy, it’s no surprise so many attend.
“We have a fundamentally different approach to how we program, which I think has attracted a certain type of person,” says Steve Susskind, co-founder of the Bay Area-based camp that for the first time this year will offer sessions in the LA area, from roughly mid-June to mid-August, depending on the location. “We’ve created an environment where kids are able to choose all day exactly what they want to do, for as long as they like.”
Though the camp has numerous programs that have nothing to do with entertainment, several do fall under that umbrella.
“If someone is (interested) in filmmaking, they can do it all day,” Susskind says. “It’s not about structured vs unstructured, it’s about what type of structure. That sort of open-ended approach has been attractive to people from a lot of the creative and tech industries.”
Pixar mainstay Andrew Stanton sent his children through the camp and has been effusive about it, writing that the campers “blossom and discover a freedom of identity that, in a way, no other institution I’ve experienced has ever managed.”
Deirdre Warin, the mother of Susskind’s wife and camp co-founder Kate Susskind, was one of Pixar’s earliest employees, but Steve Susskind says she didn’t try to recruit anyone to the camp. Pixar families, like others in the area, found it on their own. Over time, the popularity of the camp has enabled it to expand to nearly 40 locations in California, Washington and Illinois.
The camp has an innovative fee structure. Families can buy camp credits rather than registering in advance for sessions. As a result, campers can attend, or not, on any day they like, without notice–and get a refund at the end of the summer for any unused days.
It’s simple in concept if complicated in execution–though one could argue that refunds are not a huge issue in an atmosphere where campers have so much creative freedom.
“It’s not our job to dictate what the story should be,” Susskind says. “It’s our job to help them tell their stories.”
– Jon Weisman
Steve & Kate’s Camp Voted Best Of Bay 2012 in the San Francisco Bay Guardian
Steve and Kate’s Camp was picked by the readers of the San Francisco Bay Guardian in 2012 as the “Best Camp For Kids”. Here’s the link to the list on the SFBG website.
Steve & Kate’s Camp Voted Best Of Marin
Steve & Kate’s Camp was voted Best Summer Day Camp of Marin for 2010, 2011 and 2012 in the Pacific Sun reader’s poll.
Steve and Kate Susskind must know what they’re doing – they’ve been running Steve and Kate’s Camp for 30 years in Marin – although it all sounds as chaotic as a Wonderland tea party. Their philosophy: Let kids decide. Happy campers, age 4 to 12, are given a choice of activities that include things such as high-def filmmaking, electric car racing, sewing, knitting, sculpture, bungee jumping, soccer, etc. – and the kid decides which activity and how long to do it. A camper can do whatever for as long as he or she likes. “It’s structure,” Steve says, “just a different structure.” “We want to make sure we’re doing what the kids want.” Kate says. “We conform to them, not the other way around.” Food at the camp is heavy on the organic, fresh and locally grown, and is served family-style with the cafe open all day. Again, kids choose. Parents can choose, too – when and how often to bring their children – from one day to an entire summer. Unused days are automatically refunded. And somehow it just all works.
Steve & Kate’s Camp Voted Best In Contra Costa County
The readers of Parents Press voted Steve & Kate’s Camp best summer camp for 2011 in Contra Costa county.
Children can channel their creativity in this summer camp that offers campers, age 4–12, activities in filmmaking, electric car racing, sewing, knitting, sculpture, bungee jumping and soccer. Food at the camp is organic, fresh and locally grown and is served family-style with the cafe open all day. Flexibility is emphasized so campers can attend for a day, a week or an entire summer, and they can attend activities at different locations. With a wide range of activities, young campers are encouraged to pursue their own individual interests and passions so they create their own unique camp experience.
Steve & Kate’s Camp Featured In IJ Camp Guide
In 2008, the Marin Independent Journal camp guide featured an article about our “excellent culinary adventure” and how we have “taken camp food a long way from bug juice, bologna sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly smeared on white bread so gluey you can bounce it off a redwood.” Read the article here.
For the first time since the day camp was founded 28 years ago, the cooking’s going gourmet as well as organic.
Steve & Kate’s Camp In The San Francisco Chronicle
Leah Garchik mentions Steve and Kate’s in her Thursday column. Read the column here.
Thanks to Nanook of the North Bay for the brochure for Steve and Kate’s Camp, a Marin County day camp that refers to staff members who help kids choose their activities and make friends as Camp Concierges. The camp’s list of activities includes “Limo Rides,” and the arts and crafts program includes knitting “using real wood and bamboo needles.” Furthermore, lunch comes from Whole Foods and “drink service includes milk, 100 percent juice and bottled water.
Steve & Kate’s Camp In Apple’s Hot News
Steve and Kate’s uses computers throughout the camp. They increase efficiency and security for our staff. For campers, they open up the worlds of digital photography, filmmaking, music recording, and podcasting. Apple found out about us and wrote an article on our use of their technology for the “Hot News” section of their web site. Read the article.
If kids ruled the world, it might look something like Steve and Kate’s Camp in Mill Valley, California.