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Camp Visit: Camp Galileo at Almond School Centers on Creative Themes

Patch will look at different camp each week this summer, starting with one that incorporates three elements—science, art and outdoors.

Los Altos Patch will look at assorted day camps this summer. This is the first.

Camp Galileo, which turned 10 this year, is an art, outdoors and science program that operates in Los Altos and all around the Bay Area, from Corte Madera to Oakland to San Jose.

“I just love seeing education come alive for the kids,” said Jen Henzi, camp director at the Los Altos location at Almond Elementary School. Henzi is a second-grade teacher in Marin the rest of the year.

Students are split into three groups—nebulas (pre-kindergarten), stars (first- and second-graders), and supernovas (third-fifth-graders)—and then into smaller groups after that, with an 8-to-1 (student-to-adult) ratio, according to Henzi. Each week incorporates a theme, such as  “Detective in Paris,” “We Built This City” and “Inventor’s Workshop”. 

The staff includes a team leader, an intern and a credentialed teacher for each program. "It’s a very different and fun program," said Pamela Langford, a science and art K-8 teacher at Beechwood School in Menlo Park.

Some of the staff even started as a campers during its first years.

Hayley Stevens, a 2010 Los Altos High graduate, was a Camp Galileo camper when she was in fifth grade. She went from a camper to an intern and now is a team leader.

“I love working with the kids,” Stevens said. “A lot of these kids I’ve had for a few summers. It’s cool how a lot of the kids come back.”

On a recent visit, Patch watched instructor, Jessica Leone, lead her Supernova campers to build Rube Goldberg-inspired chain-reaction machines to be "booby traps" to capture the thief in Paris.

In the grades one-two group, instructor Nick Carillo helped campers with hats inspired by French Impressionist painter Berthe Morisset.

Nebula team leader Hadley Greswold was reading to a group of kindergartners in a British accent wearing a prince costume.

The children tend to sign up for multiple weeks and go back multiple summers, Henzi said.

“It’s my last week,” Supernova fifth-grader, Hannah Calhoun, said last Friday. “I’m sad. I don’t want to leave.”

Calhoun and others have the option to attend Galileo Summer Quest for fifth- through eighth-graders. The students have two weeks to learn about majors and minors, such as "Junior M.D." and "chefology."

The closest Summer Quest is in Palo Alto, Henzi said. Another option are the Tech Summer Camps for hands-on science and technology classes in San Jose at the Tech Museum.

For more information or to check availability, check Camp Galileo site.

Jennifer Lopez July 14, 2011 at 04:59 PM
My kids (ages 7 and 10) have adored this camp for a few years now. I love how my kids have so much fun while they are learning and, most importantly, while they are becoming critical thinkers. We are so lucky to live in an area where our kids can go to a camp like Camp Galileo!
Nicole Baldocchi August 17, 2011 at 04:12 AM
I'm happy to hear another Los Altos parent enjoys Galileo Camp. Thanks for chiming in, Jennifer! Out of curiosity, do you only send your kids to camp in the summer or are there camps/activities that your kids do during the other breaks of the year (the December break, spring break and ski-week break)?
Jennifer Lopez August 17, 2011 at 05:00 AM
Nicole, to date my kids have not gone to any of the other "break camps". I wish Camp G offered something! Both of my kids did just tell me they'd like to go to a holiday cooking camp at Young Chef's Academy in Sunnyvale so I may sign them up for that (or at least for a day or two). My daughter has been going to an art camp at CSMA (Community School of Music and Art) in Mountain View the past few years and I know that they also offer camps during the various breaks.

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