Tinkering School

come make amazing things with us

Summer Overnight Camp


Summer 2019 Overnight Camp Sessions

Junior (8-11) and Senior (12-16) available each week

Session A: 6/23/19 - 6/29/19

Session B: 6/30/19 - 7/6/19

Session C: 7/7/19 - 7/13/19

Session D: 7/14/19 - 7/20/19

Session E: 7/21/19 -7/27/19

Session F: 7/28/2019 - 8/3/2019

Session G: 8/4/19 - 8/10/19

Session H: 8/11/19 - 8/17/19


$1700 per camper (financial assistance is available, please note your interest in the application)

A 25% deposit is required upon session confirmation (unless requesting financial assistance), the balance is due by March 1, 2019.

Deposits and Tuition can only be refunded if another camper can be found to fill the spot.

Our longest running program, Tinkering School Overnight Camp is the Original Tinkering School®. For 10 years we have been building amazing things ranging from our first roller coaster to the two story windmill we made last year. 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, support to help them struggle and succeed, freedom to fail, and the time required to solve deep and interesting problems. 


Our overnight camps are held near the coastside communities of Montara and Half Moon Bay on the San Francisco Peninsula. The site locations change year to year and are announced with the acceptance letters after the lottery is run.


We use a lottery system to fill camp spots.  The lottery system based on our age ranges of Juniors (8 - 11 yrs), and Seniors (11 - 16 yrs).  The lottery will open January 21.  The following week we will run the lottery, and email results on February 11th.

As always we will do our best to accommodate as many tinkerers as possible.

More Information about Overnight Camp


Format and Schedule of Camp

Tinkering School is a sleepover summer camp. Tinkerers arrive on Sunday and leave on Saturday. Days are spent figuring out projects, working on 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.

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

Departure home 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 the Tinkerers: they must be able to listen, to keep themselves clean, to cooperate, and to ask for help when they need it.

During sessions we operate by a set of rules. The first four are evolved from our collective experience during the history of the school. Over the course of a session, it is common for the 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 hit someone else with the intent to hurt them, you will be expelled.


There are 16 campers in each session, and there will be both a Junior (8-11) and Senior (11-16) session each week. We strive to have an even mix of girls and boys. There are both male and female adult staff members onsite 24/7. Tinkerers come from all over the globe, with varying degrees of experience doing tinkering projects and from a variety of educational backgrounds.

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.


Meals are prepared by our staff, who work with kids and their dietary needs to create food that nourishes the body and with the group to create a community that nourishes our creativity. We have accomodated a 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 projects, runs them through the "is this at the edge of possibility?" test to make sure they are big enough ideas, then doodles in their notebooks with some general notions - 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.


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

We also recommend you browse through the School Diaries and Past Projects to get a sense of what life is like at Tinkering School - every day is documented in the diary.

Tinkering School is a trademark registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.