Summer Camp Isn't Just for Rich

Working mothers often dread the summer months and the accompanying problems of keeping the kids occupied, safe and supervised while the parents are earning a living.

If you've checked on the prices of camps these days, you've discovered that the price per week is considerably more than most moms' take-home pay.

Various parks offer a good alternative for day care, but sleep-away camps have become a luxury that only the rich can afford. So I called to check on the camps where I sent my kids (boy and girl) 20 years ago, when I was a single and working mother. The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks still offers the absolute best deals in town. There are separate camps for boys and girls.

Hollywoodland Camp for Girls is in Griffith Park, and it couldn't have a nicer setting. The main lodge and the 11 cabins are set among towering pine trees. There are 18 girls and two counselors to a cabin. Camp activities are numerous: archery, swimming, hiking, team sports, drama, arts and crafts, and outdoor living skills such as cooking and tent-building.

Each week, a special outing is scheduled, and for some of these, there is an additional charge. On the docket are Universal Studios ($20), Camelot Park ($10), Knott's Berry Farm ($10), Disneyland ($20), an overnight camping experience in Decker Canyon, Ports O' Call, a Dodger game and a trip to the beach.

The camper is dropped off Monday morning and picked up Saturday at noon. The ages of the girls are from 6 to 14. The price? A wonderfully affordable $125!

This includes all meals, accommodations and, in some instances, the scheduled outing. Camping starts June 24 and goes through Sept. 7.

If you want to inspect the facilities, an open house will be held June 2 at 1 p.m., when counselors will give a guided tour and answer questions. Call Charlotte for information and reservations at (213) 467-7193. The address is 3200 Canyon Drive, Hollywood 90088.

The Griffith Park Boys Camp operates similarly to the girls' camp. The season opens June 24 and goes through Sept. 7; the boys are dropped off Monday mornings and scooped up Saturday at noon; the price is the same wonderful $125 a week.

The activities are also pretty much the same, except the boys--whose age range is 7 to 13--get the added experience of canoeing at Echo Park. There are, however, no special outings and, therefore, no extra fees.

There are eight boys to a cabin with three counselors or counselors-in-training. As to the facilities, last year, the American Camping Assn. gave the Griffith Park Boys Camp a 100% rating in all areas. I would guess that many private (and expensive) camps covet such a recommendation.

For a brochure or information, call (213) 664-0571. The address is 4730 Crystal Springs Drive (mailing address), Los Angeles 90027.

Both camps offer memorable vacation experiences. And at these prices, summer camp isn't just for Los Angeles' rich kids.

Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Thursday in Valley View. Questions about shopping may be sent to her in care of Valley View, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Letters will not be answered individually, but topics of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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