Frequently Asked Questions
Note: The FAQs below apply to a typical year. Because of COVID-19, special provisions will apply to the 2021 summer program. Additional information on keeping camp safer will be updated regularly.
Is the program fee for one week or for the whole duration?
It’s for the entire four-week duration. Hip Wah is able to keep its program costs reasonable through parent participation and because it does not have to administer a week-by-week program.
What are the camp hours?
The core camp program runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extended Care ("Before and After Camp") is available between 7:45 a.m. and 6 p.m., with optional supplemental classes in the Mandarin language (for all grades) and instrumental music (for those entering the 4th grade or higher) available Monday through Thursday afternoons.
What do I need to know for the first day of camp?
We’ll have a brief Orientation on the Saturday morning prior to the first day of camp. You’ll be given a packet of information, including the daily schedule and a camp t-shirt. At Orientation, there will be resources onsite to give an overview, answer questions, and give a tour of the site location. Children and parents are welcomed at Orientation.
What does my child need to bring on the first day of camp?
A backpack and a water bottle. Pack a lunch if you are not ordering a hot lunch. The classroom teacher will email parents prior to the first day if anything else is needed. Don’t forget to wear the camp t-shirt.
Is lunch provided?
Your child may bring lunch or a hot lunch can be ordered for a nominal fee. Hip Wah orders hot lunches from two local restaurants, one offering Chinese cuisine and the other offering pizzas and pastas. Hot lunch also includes fruit and a drink. Families are encouraged to prepay for lunches at registration or before the start of the program. When doing so, you will be eligible for the discounted lunch rate. Prepaid lunches, even if unused, are non-refundable once the program begins.
When does registration open?
General registration opens in March. Check this site for updates on the precise dates. Registration for returning campers will open shortly before registration opens to new families.
Can I sign up for just one or two weeks?
Sorry, we do not offer a week-by-week option. Hip Wah is designed as a four-week program which we believe helps the children build friendships and a sense of community.
Is Hip Wah a co-op?
Hip Wah is not a co-op, but it does require parent participation in an activity. There are many different parent volunteer opportunities, including helping at one of the Saturday events, driving on field trips, setting up the school, etc. A fee is assessed if the parent participation activity is not completed.
I have two kids enrolled. Do I need to complete two parent participation activities?
Yes, please sign up and complete two parent participation activities.
Is this a Mandarin immersion program?
No, while there is a Mandarin language class during the core camp hours for elementary school age students, this is not an immersion program. Parents wanting their children to have more Mandarin language exposure may opt for the Supplemental Mandarin language class taught after the core camp day. The Supplemental Mandarin language class runs Monday through Thursday; registration is on a first-come, first-serve space availability basis and requires concurrent enrollment in Extended Care.
My child does not speak Chinese. Is that ok?
Fluency in the Chinese language is not required. Many of the children speak little or no Chinese. Hip Wah does include a daily Mandarin language class as part of its curriculum for elementary school age students and offers an optional Supplemental Mandarin language class after the core camp day.
Do the children have to rent or buy the Chinese musical instrument?
No, Hip Wah supplies the instruments. The music program is supported in part through our annual fundraising efforts.
Does the supplemental Chinese instrumental music class run daily?
Supplemental instrumental music classes run Monday through Thursday after the core camp day for children entering the 4th grade and older. These older campers are grouped together from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (at registration, complete the separate enrollment in "Supplemental Music"). This is in addition to music that is taught daily during the core camp day for campers through Hip Wah 2. Registration for the supplemental classes is on a first-come, first-serve space availability basis and requires concurrent enrollment in Extended Care. The supplemental Chinese instrumental music class does fill, so we ask that you register your child only if he or she can stay for the full hour.
My child enjoyed learning to play the Chinese instrument. How can my child continue during the school year?
Every year a number of Hip Wah campers continue their Chinese musical instrument studies through the non-profit, year-round Purple Silk Music Education Foundation program at Laney College. Some campers are earning college credits through this program! Our Hip Wah music specialists teach for Purple Silk during the school year and can provide you with enrollment information.
Does the supplemental Mandarin language class run daily?
Supplemental Mandarin language classes run Monday through Thursday after the core camp day. Entering 1st and 2nd graders are grouped together from 2 p.m to 3 p.m. (at registration, complete the separate enrollment in "Supplemental Mandarin 1"). All other grades are grouped together from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (at registration, complete the separate enrollment in "Supplemental Mandarin 2"). This is in addition to language that is taught daily during the core camp day for Hip Wah for elementary school age students. Registration for the supplemental classes is on a first-come, first-serve space availability basis and requires concurrent enrollment in Extended Care. The supplemental Mandarin classes do fill, so we ask that you register your child only if he or she can stay for the full hour.
I tried to register for the supplemental Mandarin language or supplemental Chinese instrumental music class, but it isn't appearing. What does this mean?
They may be full. Please contact the Registrar to be placed on the wait list.
Does Hip Wah offer a year-round program?
No, Hip Wah’s rich curriculum was designed to be delivered in a summer program format.
From which cities does Hip Wah draw its campers?
Our campers come from all over the East Bay. The largest groups are from Oakland, Piedmont, Castro Valley, Lamorinda, Alameda, and Berkeley. We have even had children fly in annually from other parts of the country, staying with a local grandparent or other family member, to attend Hip Wah.
Can my child be in the same class as his friend?
Classes are grouped by grade level, generally tied to their birth year. If your child’s friend is the same age, they will very likely be in the same class.
Can we enroll if we are not Chinese?
Yes, Hip Wah welcomes all who are interested in learning about Chinese culture. While many of the children are of Chinese descent, it is not a requirement.
What is the class size?
Classes generally have 14-22 students. Our teachers are supported by 2 classroom camp aides.
Why does Hip Wah 3 require an application process?
Hip Wah 3 students travel throughout the Bay Area to visit Chinese-Americans in the workplace. Some of the sites that they visit cannot accommodate a large group, which requires limiting the class size. Completion of Hip Wah 2 and at least one other year of Hip Wah is a prerequisite. Interested students are invited to apply for Hip Wah 3 when they finish the Hip Wah 2 program.
Why does my Hip Wah 3 camper need a Clipper Card?
Hip Wah 3 students will be taking BART, AC Transit, and other modes of public transportation for most of their field trips. Parents of Hip Wah 3 students are asked to obtain a youth Clipper Card for their child well in advance of the start of the program. This will greatly streamline travel and eliminate the wait time to purchase tickets. Youth Clipper Cards also offer a discount from posted fares in many cases.
Can a Hip Wah 3 camper order lunch through the camp?
Since Hip Wah 3 students will be away from the site location on most days, they generally buy lunch offsite or pack a lunch.
My Transition Kindergartener or preschooler is very mature, and I think she is ready for Hip Wah. Can I register her?
Children who are in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) or preschool will be considered with a letter from their teacher. If accepted, they will be grouped with the entering 1st graders. Contact the Site Director for more information.
Are you open on the Fourth of July (Independence Day) or the observed holiday if the Fourth is on the weekend?
We are closed on the Fourth of July or the observed holiday to give our team and our campers the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with their families.
Can I get a receipt to file for my Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account reimbursement?
A receipt is automatically emailed at registration and includes the information necessary for Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account reimbursement requests.
Is there before camp and after camp childcare?
Yes. Supervised Extended Care runs from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. for a nominal hourly fee. While in Extended Care, campers will have the opportunity to play indoor and outdoor games, enjoy arts and crafts, and other activities led by our Extended Care Director and assistants. Families are encouraged to prepay at registration or before the start of the program. When doing so, you will be eligible for the substantially discounted hourly rate. Prepaid hours, even if unused, are non-refundable once the program begins. When not prepaid or if usage exceeds the prepaid hours, Extended Care will be charged at the normal rate (i.e., no discount will be applied). You may specify the number of hours that you expect to use. Usage is based on one-hour increments (e.g., if your child is in Extended Care for 15 minutes one afternoon, it is billed as a full hour). We do not aggregate minutes across the 4 weeks. Morning Extended Care begins at 7:45 a.m., and afternoon Extended Care begins at 2 p.m.
Can a family member (or another caregiver) pick up my child?
Yes. Please refer to the email from the Site Director for instructions on registering the caregiver. Through the application, the caregiver will be assigned an individual PIN that you can give to him/her to sign out your child from Extended Care.
I am in a carpool with another Hip Wah family. Can another Hip Wah parent pick up my child?
Yes. Please refer to the email from the Site Director for instructions on registering another Hip Wah parent with whom you are carpooling. If you register the individual as a carpool participant, then a single PIN can be used to sign out his/her child and your child.
My child will be in Extended Care. Do I need to send a snack with him?
The extended care staff prepare and provide snacks in the afternoon.
Do I have to prepay for Extended Care (including for the supplemental Mandarin language and instrumental music)?
Families are encouraged to prepay at registration or before the start of the program. When doing so, you will be eligible for the substantially discounted hourly rate. Prepaid hours, even if unused, are non-refundable once the program begins. When not prepaid or if usage exceeds the prepaid hours, Extended Care will be charged at the normal rate (i.e., no discount will be applied). You may specify the number of hours that you expect to use. Usage is based on one-hour increments (e.g., if your child is in Extended Care for 15 minutes one afternoon, it is billed as a full hour). We do not aggregate minutes across the 4 weeks. Morning Extended Care begins at 7:45 a.m., and afternoon Extended Care begins at 2 p.m.
What if I’m stuck in traffic and can’t pick up by 6 p.m.?
At Orientation, we will provide a contact phone number for our Extended Care director, and you can call that number to let the staff know. Your child will remain at the site location until you pick up. Note that we uphold a firm policy of billing $5/minute for each minute picked up after 6 p.m. This is necessary because our agreement with the site location specifies that it may not be used in the evening, and Hip Wah is charged for late closures.
Are there field trips?
Field trip locations vary by class level. Entering 1st graders generally do not go on a field trip. Other classes will go on at least one field trip, provided we have enough drivers and chaperones. Past field trips have included visits to Angel Island, the Asian Art Museum, and Chinatown (both Oakland and San Francisco).
Does my child have to participate in the Music Festival?
We encourage all children to participate in the Music Festival. The festival is typically held on the Saturday following the last day of instruction. If your child is unavailable for the Music Festival, we ask that you let the music teachers know as soon as possible. Your child will continue to participate in the music class but will not be assigned an individual role in the Music Festival.
Can I order additional Hip Wah t-shirts?
One Hip Wah t-shirt will be included in the program material given to you at Orientation. Additional t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts can be purchased at Orientation or in the Hip Wah office during camp (supply is limited).
We will be on vacation on the day of the Orientation. Can I get my packet some other way?
Email the Site Director for more information. There will also be assistance on the first day of camp.
Is there a sibling discount?
No, Hip Wah does not offer a sibling discount. Hip Wah's fee is already more affordable than most Bay Area camps, and we are unable to discount the fee.
Does Hip Wah offer scholarships to the summer program?
Yes, when the Hip Wah budget permits, the program will offer up to four scholarship awards granted based on financial need. Awards are based on a review of the completed application and any other requested documentation. The scholarship application is due on May 1st of the program year, and families should not wait until they receive the scholarship award notification to enroll; Hip Wah classes do fill quickly. Maximum award is $250 per family. Please contact the Registrar for more information.
How do I apply for a position as an aide?
Students who have completed Hip Wah 3 are invited to apply for a position as an aide for the following summer. Aides are volunteers and receive a stipend to offset transportation costs. Hip Wah accepts applications for first and second year aides. Positions are limited especially for the second year. Decisions are made in January of the new program year and are guided by feedback from teachers, the Site Director, and Site Assistants. Interested students apply at the end of the program.
Are aides eligible for Extended Care or the supplemental Mandarin language and Chinese instrumental music classes?
Yes, they are eligible for Extended Care. They are also eligible for the supplemental classes, if space permits. Campers receive priority registration for the supplemental classes. Please contact the Registrar to express interest in the supplemental language class and/or Chinese instrumental music class.