Remember when a day off from school sounded like a good thing?
Now that we’re the grown-ups, of course, it’s a different story. And as if Monday holidays to honor veterans, presidents, and the like were not enough, our current economic struggles have also left us with a legacy of “Furlough Days” – which translates loosely as “random days when we need to find childcare.”
Luckily some enterprising local camps who know how to show a kid a good time offer fun options for school kids on days when there is no school. If you’ve suddenly discovered that tomorrow is one of those days, try checking out one of the camps below that generally have us covered on LA school vacation days - whenever they come.
Venice del Play – If school is out, these folks are usually on the beach. And before you start to say “Oh, but it’s too cold to go swimming!” (and before some east coaster starts to snicker), know that there is a whole lot more to Venice del Play than riding waves. Chilly day activities include yoga, soccer, arts and crafts, skateboarding, gardening, magic lessons, fencing, gymnastics, and hula hooping. Don’t be fooled by the name, though; Venice del Play spends its days in Santa Monica.
Paint Lab - The most happening place for painters is almost always happening when school is not.Whole day and half day options are available, so that kids can spend their day off arming their inner artists with oils, easels, and the time to use them.
Santa Monica Family YMCA - Anytime the SMMUSD schools take a day off, the Y has your back with coverage from 8:30am-6:00pm. Advance registration is required (forms are on the website), but the cost can't be beat.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, of Hollywood, of Venice, and several other areas frequently open for longer hours on school holidays. It's definitely worth the $20 annual membership to have the Boys & Girls Club for back-up.
STAR – The acronym stands for Sports, Theater, Arts, and Recreation, and it is many things to many people. STAR is responsible for the on-site after school enrichment programs and homework clubs at an enormous number of LAUSD schools, as well as having its own Culver City facility (the Eco Station) that houses a menagerie of exotic animals. Vacation day options are generally available at specific school sites, and sometimes at the Eco Station. It’s always worth asking what vacay day plans these folks have in store – especially since STAR sometimes offers financial aid, too.
JAG Gym – If school is out, the gymnasts are in. JAG – aka Josephson Academy of Gymnastics – always tries to offer bouncing fun when parents need it most.
Unincorporated Education - The name is a mouthful and sounds all official-like, but what this place offers is fashion design camps, as well as year-round classes for kids and adults. Kids making their own clothes - what could be better?
Monarch Gymnastics – Monarch’s is another great place for kids to let off that off-from-school steam. The gymnastics school tries to cover all of the school-free days.
Studio LOL holiday camp keeps kids laughing while building confidence, communication, and performance skills through improv, sketch comedy, and working to find the "funny" in their daily lives. They're bound to come home with a good joke or two as well.
Kidspace – The mother of all spaces for kids is often open when school is not, and sometimes – particularly at holiday shopping time – Kidspace offers vacation day camps to help parents keep two hands free for other tasks.
Kids Klub – There is hardly ever a day when Kids Klub doesn’t have some kind of solution for youngsters in need of a retreat. While there may not be a specifically named camp on a Monday holiday or furlough day, drop off options for these times are almost always available upon (advance) request.
Do you know of one we’ve missed? Please post a comment below (after you’ve assured your child’s place, of course)!
Looking for more ideas? Check our Summer and School Vacation Camp Guide!
Originally published September 9, 2011