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Patch Picks: Top 5 Summer Camps for Palm Desert Kids

From a grief counseling to baseball camp, we lay out some good picks for the summer.

Spring is here and so is the return of warmer weather! Okay, so it's always pretty warm here in SoCal regardless. As temperatures continue to rise, children will be dreaming of summer days wasting away while moms are more likely to go sleepless worrying about how to entertain them on summer nights.

Luckily, there's that great old American tradition of sending the kids off to camp to fill the solstice void of structure, growth and learning responsibility.

Here's our list of choice options for families to invest their summers around Palm Desert:

College of the Desert Basketball Summer Camp: For nearby frugal families searching for convenience and value in the sports camp(s) where they'll send their kids, the COD Roadrunners offer four-day camps in August totaling $75 per camper. Boys and girls of all skill levels ages 7-15 are invited to learn fundamentals and square off in tournaments for a fun-but-disciplined atmosphere. Camps begin at 9 am and finish just after noon every day. The only requirement for campers is a pair of shorts and high-top sneakers or other athletic shoes.

Guided Discoveries: How many times do you get to enjoy all the fun of playing out your fantasies while simultaneously acquiring hard technical skills? Well, GD's signature summer adventures such as AstroCamp, Catalina Sea Camp and Tall Ship Summer Sailing are designed to provide boys and girls ages 8-17 with the best of both worlds. AstroCamp, with its NASA-themed emphasis on physical science, astronomy and exploration of our growing universe, is located in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild. Running June through August, AstroCamp offers one-week camps for $950 per camper and a full fortnight for $1,850. Meanwhile, the marine-themed camps run a bit steeper, with the Catalina Island campus offering two three-week camp options at $3,700 apiece and Tall Ship offering 1-3 week packages from $1,475-$3,695. You get what you pay for, however, as privileged kids learn the basics and nuances of naval science from scenic SCUBA to sailing school and seafood cookery.

UC Riverside Baseball & Softball Camps: We all love America's pastime, so spending the summer prepping your kids for the progressively-competitive atmosphere on their local diamond might not be a bad idea. Perennial NCAA tourney-qualifier UC Riverside runs camps on their fields in June and July for baseball and three days in July for softball. Prices range from $55-$180 for each session.

Camp Cedar Falls: This camp in the San Bernardino National Forest for ages 6-16, run through the SoCal Seventh-day Adventist Conference, not only features a ropes course and team-building exercises, as well as several other activities for kids including water-skiing and archery, but also features buffet-style vegetarian meals for the health-conscious family. Camp dates range from late June through early August while package fees range from $125 for the four-day camp to $225 for the basic camp. If you register before June 7 for the basic camp, it's only $200.

Camp Good Grief: Run through the LLUCH, this special camp is geared towards kids who've had a parent or sibling die. With camp sites shifting from various retreats and conference centers in the Loma Linda area, this atmosphere of love and acceptance includes a broad range of activities from ropes courses to grief activity sessions, non-denominational prayer and music, camp fire fun, art activity and group games including archery, swimming, hiking, canoeing and 'treasure hunts'. For more info on registration, please contact camp director Dorothy Brooks at 909-558-4073.

BONUS PICK--4-H Summer Camps: If you're a member of the esteemed 4-H organization, run by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to develop youth "who are learning citizenship, leadership and life skills," then you can register for any of their local camps this summer. 'Early-bird registration', which runs through May 1, costs $275 including a $75 non-refundable deposit. After that, packages run $350 apiece through June 1 and $400 thereafter.

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