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A fun and safe place for young girls to play and learn about themselves in an all-girl environment

For more than 55 years, Casti Camp at Castilleja School in Palo Alto has provided girls an all-day camp where fun, learning, and friendships have been the focus. Casti Camp, for girls entering grades 2-6, offers four two-week sessions during the summer. Casti Camp offers a range of age-appropriate activities including athletics, art, science, computers, writing, crafts, cooking, drama, dance and music classes each day. In addition, there are weekly field trips and memorable traditions, including talent shows, counselor skits, prison ball, BBQ Wednesdays, and more. Activities are designed to encourage creativity, self-confidence, cooperation, risk-taking, and responsibility.

Casti Camp is based in play and does not have a strong academic focus. We recognize the value of providing balance to the rigors and structure of the academic year. In the fast-paced environment of the Silicon Valley, creating time for play is more important than ever. This is not to say that Casti campers do not learn while at camp. They do! There are subtle lessons and "ahha" moments that occur when you provide an all-girls environment that is neither competitive nor based on prescribed outcomes.

Casti Camp's home is the beautiful setting of Castilleja School in Palo Alto. The campers move from activity to activity all over campus. A typical day for a camper may involve working on a science experiment in the science lab, water color painting in the art studio, making popsicles in the cooking room, eating lunch in the dining room, followed by reading under the shade of a tree, learning improv in the theater, and playing sharks and minnows in the swimming pool. The choices are varied and vast. There are activities and the space to do just about anything the counselors can dream up for the campers! Jenny R., whose daughter attended Casti Camp, writes:

"The all-girls setting provides a particularly supportive camaraderie that my daughter really hasn't had anywhere else and loves. Coral's favorite memories are of the game, Clock Tower, which she feels is like a real life spy game played in the dark. It gets her heart racing with excitement. Coral enjoys all the Casti songs and frequently sings them in the car when we are on a long family driving trip. She mentions fabulously funny counselors like CJ and counselors from whom she has learned valuable life skills like Andy in junior lifeguards. The culmination of every summer is in the show at the end of the year. She loves performing and seeing what the other groups have done too. Thanks for so many great times Casti Camp!"

The structure of camp is quite unique. The campers choose their classes, taking five classes each day for the two-week session. On the third day of camp, the campers may change their class selection if they choose. It is quite a powerful experience for our young girls to make a choice and ask for it. In today's highly scheduled world of playdates, lessons, and tutors, rarely do they have the opportunity to make choices at this level, let alone have the space in their schedules to ask themselves what would they most like to be doing. Maya R., 4th grader, writes:

"Casti Camp is the best summer camp is because you choose your own fun class selections. There are 5 periods plus snack, lunch, all camp-time, and free-time. So if you like science, you can take Wacky Wonders. If you like making friendship bracelets, you can take bracelet making class. If you like cooking, you can take a cooking class (cupcake or breakfast-making class). Finally, if you like sports, you can take a prison-ball or hockey class. It is SUPER fun. It is good that it starts at 8:30 and ends at 4:00. The counselors tell stories, sing songs, and make up skits. At the end of the two week session, there is a stage performance where everyone presents what they made, or tells what they did."

At Casti Camp, the counselors design the classes that they teach. Counselors are invested and comfortable in what they are teaching, and their enthusiasm, creativity, and confidence shines through to ignite the same in their campers. Because counselors design the courses, the classes change from year to year. Some highlights from 2016 were Geodesic Fort Making, Puzzle Solvers, Peace, Love, Yoga!, Ancient Cultures, Grrrl Power, Dodge Ball, Safari Dancers, to name a few.

Casti counselors are generally in college or pursuing their Masters degrees. Many work at Camp for multiple years, and some are former campers who have been waiting for their chance to be a Casti Camp counselor. The counselors look forward to engaging with the campers and being role models. They love the chance to act silly and sing traditional camp songs with a whole bunch of enthusiastic campers! The songs can probably be heard around the neighborhood each morning and afternoon. In addition, our Campers in Leadership Training (CILT) program offers wonderful leadership opportunities for girls entering grades 7-9.

Campers have numerous opportunities each day to interact with campers of all ages. Most classes have campers from second to sixth grades, playing and learning from each other. Some classes are designed for a tighter age range due to the activity. Throughout the day the campers are independent, following their unique schedule. Campers come together with their own age group first thing in the morning, for lunch, and again at the end of the day. Their days are a mix of independence as well of the comfort of a small consistent group with whom to eat their lunch, as well as to start and end their day.

Each Friday, Casti campers board charter buses and take Camp out on the road! We spend the day at the beach, water parks, and museums. This is a day when the campers really bond with each other and the counselors. It is a time to hang out with new camp friends, learn how to make friendship bracelets, or get up the courage to go down that water slide.

Casti Camp prides itself on providing a fun and safe place for young girls to play and learn about themselves in an all-girls environment. It is a place to unplug from schedules and electronics and connect face to face. It is about developing independence. It is about trying new things to build confidence. And most importantly, it is about having fun!

To learn more about Casti Camp, visit www.castilleja.org/casticamp or call 650-470-7833. Registration is open for all sessions.

 
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