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This month we celebrate the power of summer camps and
their ability to help kids grow up and engage with community.
It was her first year of
being a counselor and the
role suited her well.
girls, although we had a bit of a family feud when
I discovered at drop-off that it was ice cream day.
I quietly listed a feigned allergy to refined sugar
as I signed them in. At pickup they relayed that
instead of letting them partake in the make-
your-own-sundae event like the other kids, the
counselors gave them grapes. Still a sore point.
Our day camp forays were short-lived; I
had a hard time justifying the cost if it didn’t
involve education or learning a skill. We did
try a few sleepaway programs, with limited
success. Often shipping off both girls as a
package deal, I made the mistake of sending
Natalie to Tahoe before she was ready to be
away from home. The week was hell for all
of us. My niece, on the other hand, found her
people at a three-week sleepaway camp in
Seattle; she went every summer for as long as
she could and maintains deep, lasting friendships with her camp friends.
Meanwhile, back in Marin, Natalie’s older
sister Grace discovered horses, thanks to
Miwok Stables and a one-ton four-legged land
mammal named Teddy. She later taught riding there and at Nicasio Riding Club and these
days is a happy member of the equestrian
team down at UCSB.
There are so many opportunities to ignite
passions in kids, often in summer programs
right here in Marin. As I read through the college
application essays by my daughters and niece, I
see that camp was a common theme for all three.
In this issue we celebrate summer camp
with a guide to options in the county and
beyond. Why March? This is the month when
camps open registration and when most (never
me) smart and organized parents start their
planning. Go forth and mold your child’s
future, but hey no pressure.
Mimi Towle, Editor
“NARWHAL. THAT’S my camp name,” my soon-to-be-16- year-old daughter said, smiling with pride. “You take the first letter of your
name and then find a sea animal with the same
letter.” A pause. “N doesn’t have many options,”
she added, seemingly lost in thought.
It was her first year of being a counselor and
the role suited her well. As we drove along the
glimmering Rodeo Lagoon, she continued to
describe in detail the level of cuteness of each
camper in her group. While at other times I
might have cursed the 20-plus minutes it took
to get her to The Marine Mammal Center, the
drive gave us invaluable time together. Ten
years prior I was driving her with a few friends
to go there as a camper, not a counselor. Being
involved in TMMC piqued her interest in the
ocean — mostly the baby seals there — but she
did learn enough to want to return in high
school as a youth leader volunteer, aka Nar whal.
Her involvement made me aware of the cen-
ter and all they do. When you read this month’s
Q&A, you’ll meet one of their superstars, Dr.
Claire Simeone, a conservation medicine
veterinarian who is headed to give a TED talk
in Vancouver next month. With that type of
accomplishment in mind, we’ve created an
official #MarinRepresents hashtag to help pro-
mote people and products doing good beyond
county borders. I’ve used the hashtag a few
times — when I’ve seen products like EO and
Rustic Bakery in my travels — but I’d welcome
the help of some power posters to give it wings.
Back to camps. Between Natalie and her
older sister, I have learned about most of the
summer camp options throughout the county.
NatureBridge offers kids insight into all things
nature as does Slide Ranch (be warned, the
geese can be aggressive). A couple of fun-filled
day programs were perennial favorites for my