Hi! I’m Caitlin. From age 4 to age 17, I spent my Bay Area summers barefoot and slathered in sunscreen in and around local pools. There is so much more to swim team than just swimming — let me tell you why it is SO worth it
If your child will be joining a swim team for the first time, there are some things you should know, as being a swimmer (and a parent) on a recreational team is a sport like no other! Lamorinda is well known for having a swim team culture and many of Lamorinda’s youth participate in swim team at one point or another as it’s a great summer activity full of exercise, time outdoors, learning new skills and creating lasting friendships. Lamorinda has fifteen swim teams throughout Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda. The swim teams each have a mascot and are are a part of a swim or swim/tennis club, a country club, an athletic club or community based clubs that use high school facilities. If a team is a part of a club that requires membership, which most of the teams in Lamorinda are, the family must already be a member before a swimmer can join a team. There are exceptions to this rule at some clubs for the 15-18 year old age group allowing those older swimmers to swim on a team without membership. Some teams also require minimum swimming skills before being able to be on the team. In most cases, clubs have a Learn to Swim or ‘ Guppy’ program which gets younger swimmers ready to be on a swim team. All swim teams that are a part of a club have a per swimmer fee to be on the team, in addition to any club membership dues and fees.
Lamorinda has many local clubs that offer swimming pools, social events, food and/or barbecue facilities and other amenities. With the exception of the local country clubs and the athletic club, most neighborhood swim or swim/tennis clubs are open from May until October, whereas the aforementioned are open year round. The hours vary by club, but most are open into the evening, especially on weekend nights.
With all the sports and fun activities going on in Lamorinda, it can be easy to forget it’s not all summertime and weekends. Eventually, the kids will have to go to school. The elementary years are a time for growth, while middle school can be a training ground with a focus on creating study and organizational habits that will carry them through their future academic life. When high school rolls around, it’s time to buckle down and get to work. Whatever their age or grade level, it’s not unusual for students to need a little extra help.
I moved to Lafayette in 1996 from Maxwell Park in Oakland. Our son was about to enter kindergarten and we wanted great schools for him. A large part of how we chose our new community had to do with the schools, but more specifically, music in the schools. Both my husband and I are professional musicians so we understand the value and importance of a thriving music program for child development. This is hard to find, but Lafayette has it
Ah, your baby years are past...your toddler years are past. The legs are getting longer, they’re leaner and taller...they ask a million questions and blow you away with some of their comments. It’s time for Kinder. And registration is not that simple. Here’s how it breaks down:
Many Lamorinda youth are active in Boy Scouts of America. Becoming a Boy Scout often begins as early as first grade with Cub Scouts. A Cub Scout ‘bridges’ to become a Boy Scout in the middle of fifth grade. While the background of being a Cub Scout is helpful, it is not necessary to be a Cub Scout if your son wants to become a Boy Scout. Tiger Scout is the youngest scout and Eagle Scout is the highest rank in Scouting. The path between is a great adventure. Lamorinda has many second and third generation scouts, so there is a strong connection for many.
Many first graders learn about becoming a scout through the local Cub Scout dens that advertise in elementary schools. Dens are typically divided by school and have mom or dad volunteers to lead them. Having been a scout before is not a requirement of leadership, although parents are vetted for safety and it’s often that two parents team up to lead because there are many requirements. Each year, a cub scout progresses through the ranks by completing different requirements that are outlined in the Cub Scout Handbook. There are Den Meetings and Pack Meetings that help to accomplish this goal. A Den Meeting consists of just the grade level group of typically five to fifteen boys. Often there are two dens per grade level at any given school. The Den Meetings take place after school or on weekends and many dens divide the responsibilities amongst all parents so that each family is responsible for a meeting or outing. Pack Meetings involve all of the Dens at a particular school and they are usually one weeknight a month are are lead by the Pack Leader with the help of the Den Leaders. They often focus on a particular topic such as Toys for Tots at the holidays or a Rocket Launch in the spring. There are also many pack excursions and camping trips, such as overnights at the Academy of Sciences and on a Navy Ship, and many camping overnights all around local sites. In fifth grade, Cub Scouts typically start looking around for a local Boy Scout troop that feels like a good fit. Many Boy Scout troops open up their December and/or January meetings to prospective scouts. A Cub Scout that is active in fifth grade and has met the requirements ‘bridges’ to Boy Scouts. Members of the Cub Scout Pack and the Boy Scout Troop attend, in addition to the scout’s parents, attend this honor and after this, the scout now attends Boy Scout meetings. Another route if you are not a Cub Scout is to just join a Boy Scout troop in the middle to end of fifth grade.
Acalanes High School District consists of four high schools, three of which are located in Lamorinda: Acalanes in Lafayette, Campolindo in Moraga and Miramonte in Orinda. These high schools are fortunate enough to have a district that understands the emotional needs of high schoolers. A Wellness Center has been implemented on each campus at all three Lamorinda high schools. These centers are in collaboration with the existing Counseling Departments and Health Offices and employ an Intake Specialist and Wellness Coordinator. They are open each school day from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm to allow students to take advantage of their vast resources before, after and during school hours. The services provided for students include support groups, referrals to community agencies, nursing, mental health counseling and all of these services are free and, most importantly, confidential. Students may need a place to address such issues as mental health, friendships/relationships, grief/loss, substance use/abuse, LGBTQI/Gender Identity Issues and more.
Many Lamorinda families look for childcare after school for their children. With children in many directions after school, it’s often a necessity for working parents to sustain care and/or a driver for their child until they are sixteen. There are a variety of options in Lamorinda and the key is that each of these options can fill up quickly, so it's important to do your research and be on waitlists early if you are relying on facilities or classes that have a maximum capacity.
Each school district in Lamorinda is made up of elementary schools and a middle school. The three high schools in Lamorinda, Acalanes in Lafayette, Campolindo in Moraga and Miramonte in Orinda, are a part of the Acalanes High School District, which also includes a fourth high school in Walnut Creek, Los Lomas. The high school attendance boundaries often cross city lines, so a middle schooler from one city might be designated to go to high school in another city. It’s important to check in with the high school district to see which high school will be your child’s ‘school of residence’ because it may not be in the city within which you reside.