For Rachel Steidl — a mother of three and founder of — when it comes to choosing summer camps, Santa Barbara has everything.

Although some people may think only working parents send their kids to camps, Steidl believes that camps are important for all children because they promote socialization and cultivate lasting friendship. “I think camp is a gift you can give your child,” Steidl said.

Camps are also a plus because they expose children to new activities, such as art and music, or they can be a great way for kids to focus on skills they already have, she said. For example, a child who likes to play soccer may sign up for a one-week soccer camp and perfect his or her passing and dribbling skills.

Steidl said she likes her children to try new camps each year, and she mixes half-day camps with full-day camps for variety. However, she said her kids have so many interests that they want to join too many camps. “Our problem is cutting back on camps,” she said.

So what are some of the favorites?

Steidl said her youngest, age 6, liked Color Me Mine, and her twin 9-year-olds enjoyed the Junior Lifeguards program at UCSB last summer. Other favorites include the Ocean Adventures Surf Day Camp and Presby Camp, a day camp for kindergarteners through sixth-graders run by First Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara.

For parents who may think their children are too young for camp, Santa Barbara has camps for children as young as 3, Steidl said.

Another deterrent to sending kids to summer camp may be the cost, but many camps offer scholarship programs. “Don’t be afraid to ask,” Steidl says.