Arden-Arcade parents create kids’ camp database
By Jessica Laskey
When school’s out for the summer, you might imagine that parents would breathe a sigh of relief—but you’d be wrong. Planning your child’s summer camp schedule can be even more stressful than keeping up with the regular school year, as Arden-Arcade resident DJ Waldow can attest.
“Three summers ago, I was trying to plan my kids’ summer camp schedule,” says Waldow, who has a 10-year-old, 8-year-old and 5-year-old twins with his wife, a high-risk OB doctor. “The process was so crazy—you’d build a schedule, then go to each individual site and cross your fingers that they still had openings. Camps filled up really quickly, which was stressful, plus trying to coordinate our kids going to the same camp as their friends was very, very complicated. There was no simple, easy way to find different camps in Sacramento.”
When Waldow, a freelance tech writer, and his family first arrived in town from the Bay Area three and a half years ago, a neighbor stopped by with “welcome to the neighborhood” cookies. That neighbor was Meghan Phillips, owner of The Honey Agency marketing and design studio in Sacramento. Phillips’ and Waldow’s kids became fast friends—which meant come summer, they tried to match schedules so they could all attend the same camps together. The process proved so difficult that the two parents had an idea. Why not create a searchable database of all the summer camps in the Sacramento area?
“We’re both tech-savvy entrepreneurs,” Waldow says, “but we were still struggling. And if we’re struggling, I can’t imagine what other parents are going through.”
In March of last year, Phillips, Waldow and a silent third partner (another parent who agreed to run the technical side) launched Simple Summers, a searchable online database that is the “stress-free resource to find the best summer camps for your children—camps that fit your budget, schedule and children’s interests,” as described on the Honey-designed website. Parents can create a free account, add their camper (all that’s required is birth month and year to help narrow the search but maintain privacy) and then use the site’s search functions to find camps by date, type, price and location. Once a camp is selected and scheduled, parents can add it to their online calendar, which can be shared with others for easier coordination.
The site is free to use and most camps are listed for free, though Waldow says camps can pay a fee for their listing to pop up with an image in relevant searches. Last summer, there were nearly 800 camps across Sacramento County, Rocklin, Roseville and West Sacramento listed on the site—all entered manually by Waldow and the Simple Summers team.
Though this summer will be different due to the pandemic—Waldow says the site is down to about 200 camps—Simple Summers is still offering invaluable services. In fact, they’ve reconfigured the search function to include virtual-only camps, though some in-person camps will be open with modified safety measures.
“We’re still achieving our mission of making it easier to find summer camps—doing the hard work so you don’t have to,” Waldow says. “COVID-19 is not going to stop us providing a resource for parents.”
For more information, visit simplesummers.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.