Summer Overnight Camp


Our longest running program, Tinkering School Overnight Camp is the Original Tinkering School?. For 15 years we have been building amazing things ranging from our first roller coaster to a 16ft ferris wheel. Kids come for a whole week, work with amazing collaborators, real tools, real materials, to make something huge. More than any other program we offer, kids have room to play, the support and freedom to fail, and the time required to solve deep and interesting problems. (Dive in deeper to what this camp is like on our Overnight Camp Blog)


Sessions fill quickly, sign up for camp early!


Waitlists: If your preferred session is full, be sure to still add your name to the waitlist. Spots occasionally open up and it’s free of charge to join.

Scholarships: Tinkering School is committed to making our programs available to everyone. We offer scholarships on a pay-what-you-can basis while funds last. All families will be asked their tuition assistance preference during the registration process.

Cancelation Policy and FAQ’s

Bring a Friend Discount: Invite a new friend to camp and they can enter your name for a $25 discount during registration. We’ll also send you $25 refund before the start of camp. Limited to one referral per family while funds last.

Open Registration

  • Tinkering Overnight Camp: $ 1,780

Other Services

  • Airport Pickup and Drop-off: $35 (each direction)


Scroll down to view individual program details

Overnight Camp - Summer 2020


Our overnight camp is held at Elkus Ranch, a beautiful environmental education center, near the coast side community of Half Moon Bay on the San Francisco Peninsula.

1500 Purisima Creek Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

  • Session 1: June 28 - July 4, Juniors - Ages 8-10

  • Session 2: July 5 - July 11, Middles - Ages 10-13

  • Session 3: July 12 - July 18, All Ages 8+

  • Session 4: July 19 - July 25, Seniors - Ages 13+

  • Session 5: July 26 - August 1, Juniors - Ages 8-10

  • Session 6: August 2 -August 8, Middles - Ages 10-13

  • Session 7: August 9 - August 15, All Ages 8+

  • Session 8: August 16 - August 22, All Ages 8+

  • *NEW - ALL BOYS WEEK - Session 9: August 23 - August 29, All Ages 8+

    Please be advised that in the event the session does not reach minimum enrollment, we will have to cancel the session. We will notify you well ahead of time and provide a full refund for any payments you made for the particular session.


More Information about Overnight Camp

Tinkering School is a sleepover summer camp. Tinkerers arrive on Sunday and leave on Saturday. Days are spent designing projects, building projects, testing projects, feeding the goats, and eating. And sleeping (at night). With a mid-week outing to the beach (which is often capped with hot showers before dinner).

Each week runs Sunday to Saturday. Drop off on Sunday runs from 3pm-4pm.

The Exposition showcase of the week's projects is on Saturday at 10am. All hands deconstruction runs from 10:30am-11:30am

Departure and final pick up from 11:30am to Noon.

For those who are flying and hoping for our staff to pick your kids up, ideal times are around 11:00am arrival on Sunday and 3pm departure on Saturday.


We expect a high level of responsibility from our Tinkerers: they must be able to listen, keep themselves clean, cooperate, and ask for help when they need it.

During camp sessions, we operate by a set of rules. The first four have evolved from our collective experience during the history of the camp. Over the course of a session, it is common for Tinkerers to create new rules for themselves as the need arises.

Rules Of Tinkering School: 
1. Don't hurt yourself, or anyone else. 
2. If you see a piece of fruit, and you want it, you must eat it. 
3. If two people want the same item, the dispute is resolved by ro-sham-bo. 
4. If you willfully harm someone else physically with the intent to hurt them, you will be expelled.


We strive to have an even mix of girls and boys. There are both male, female adult staff members onsite 24/7. Tinkerers come from all over the globe, with varying degrees of tinkering experience and from a variety of educational backgrounds.


Meals are prepared by our staff, who work with campers to meet their dietary needs and provide healthy, nourishing food as well as a welcoming setting for building community. We have accommodated a wide variety of dietary restrictions, including one child who was both celiac and lactose-intolerant. However, we can not maintain a Kosher kitchen.


What projects will we be building? No one knows! Each year the the Tinkering School team plots and plans a few riveting provocations, runs them through the "is this at the edge of possibility?" test to make sure the ideas are big enough, then doodles in their notebooks imagining possibilities - sometimes only enough so that we can collect interesting materials. The challenges are announced with great fanfare and plenty of mystery - we all figure out how to build a solution together.


What To Bring

  • Layers! (the temperature on the California coast can be quite cool. weather might range from foggy and 50 degrees to sunny and 80 degrees - all in one day!)

  • Shorts (there are hot days)

  • Long Pants and Long Sleeved Shirt (sometimes projects require a little protection)

  • Jacket (it is always cool at night)

  • Sun Hat (we will be outside quite a bit)

  • Closed Toe Shoes (for safety in the workshop: sturdy tennis shoes are fine but Keen sandals are not)

  • Work Gloves (Mechanix makes a very nice kid-sized work glove, sturdy gardening gloves also work - our primary concern is splinters from working with wood)

  • Swimsuit (we always try to fit in a beach outing)

  • Sleeping Bag/Bedding and Pillow (for those coming by airplane these will be provided upon request). We recommend a a 3 season bag as summer on the coast can be quite cold at night.

  • Bath Towel (for those coming by airplane these will be provided upon request)

  • Flashlight or Headlamp

  • Refillable Water Bottle

  • Anything else your child needs for the week (toiletries, clothing, medications, sunscreen, glasses, sunglasses, etc.)

  • It would be a great idea to label the sleeping bag, pillow, towel, flashlight, water bottle, and gloves with your child's name. We can pretty much guarantee they won't remember which ones are theirs at the end of the week.


The best summary of "What is Tinkering School" can be found in Gever's 2009 TED Talk: Life Lessons Through Tinkering.