A fun and safe place for young
girls to play and learn about
themselves in an
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!