Extended hours at Galileo: Aftercare that's not an afterthought

Like most summer camps, Galileo Learning's camps (Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest) run from 9:00 AM till 3:00PM, which is great for parents with flexible schedules, but not so great for parents who face the 9-to-5 grind (and not so great for the kids either, because if they had their way, they'd stay at camp till the sun goes down).

To accommodate the schedules of working parents, Galileo offers extended care hours.  Parents can choose from morning care (8:00-9:00AM), afternoon care (3:00-6:00PM) or both. I used Galileo's extended care for the first time this year, and I've found it really useful because 3Po and Jammy are attending Camp Galileo this week in Palo Alto, while The Pea is attending Galileo Summer Quest in Sunnyvale, and the 2 locations are 20 minutes apart.  With extended hours, I can drop the boys off at extended care in the morning and get The Pea to her camp by 9:00AM, and I can pick the boys up at 3:00PM and drive to The Pea without breaking the speed limit (or the sound barrier). 

At the beginning of the week, I felt a twinge of guilt at leaving the kids in for such long hours -- Surely 6 hours of camp is enough! They'll be exhausted and will want to go home to unwind!  -- but I quickly learned that Galileo's extended care is almost as much fun as camp itself. 

At Camp Galileo, kids can do art and craft activities (3Po and Jammy are currently OBSESSED with lanyard making) or play games like foursquare or tag.  Over at Galileo Summer Quest, The Pea tells me that kids can choose to take part in outdoor sports like kickball or soccer or games like Capture the Flag, or head indoors into The Cave, a classroom where they can play card games or draw or do arts and crafts.

Checking in and out of extended care is a breeze.  You have to be on a list of approved pick-up people (specified by you before camp begins) and to show your driver's license in order to pick a child up, which is a nice security feature.   I especially like the setup at GSQ Sunnyvale -- you don't even have to find your child and nag them to go home!  Just show up at the staff tent at the entrance, tell them your child's name, and they'll radio a staff member to round up your child and send them out.  They have spoiled me so much, I find myself wanting curbside drop-off and pick-up.......

As with pretty much everything about Galileo, what makes their extended care program truly special is their people.  The camp counselors really go out of their way to make extended care fun for all the kids.  Kids aren't abandoned in a tiny room, or left to mope around and get bored.  The Pea told me they are always going around, trying to make sure that everyone is occupied and entertained, ready to join the kids in games or start a new lanyard for them or ooh and ahh over a drawing or organize a game -- but not in an overly pushy way.  If someone wants some quiet time by themselves, that's perfectly okay.  It's no wonder my kids are always asking me to leave them just a little bit longer, to pick them up just a little bit later.

Disclosure: This is the third in a series of posts about Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest, for which I am being compensated with a free week of camp for each of my children. The views and opinions expressed here are my own

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