Some pieces of history unearthed from Harker’s archives reveal that its summer programs have provided students with fun, engaging activities for several decades.
A Palo Alto Military Academy summer program brochure from 1920 describes a schedule of morning academics, military drills, calisthenics, swimming, baseball and hikes. In the late 1920s and into the ‘40s, brochures touted an academic “Coaching Program” in Palo Alto with morning classes in arithmetic, spelling, composition, reading and penmanship, followed by an 11:30 – 12 military drill and an afternoon of exercise and daily swimming. Harker also hosted a recreational camp at Camp Eldorado at Lake Alpine in the Sierras where the boys slept in tent cabins and ate in a log cabin mess hall. Fishing, archery, swimming and campfire programs were offered, and popular activities included bike and horseback riding, bugling, rifle practice and boating at the Palo Alto Yacht Harbor and at Lake Alpine.
By the 1950s, the summer program featured Puppet Pantomime, an original variety show presented by the children, Aquacade in the school pool, arts, crafts and woodworking. By the 1960s – after Major Donald Nichols purchased the school – the Harker Day School featured a six-week program of “Academics, Recreation, and Just Plain Fun!”
After the move to the Saratoga campus in 1972 and into the 1980s, Harker’s summer school continued to offer academic enrichment, recreation and sports for boys and girls in both boarding and day programs. Activities included archery, dance, drama, martial arts and weight training, and an ESL program was added with boarding students coming from around the world.
In the 1990s Harker began offering extended trips such as Fields of Dreams: A Midwest Baseball Tour and Excellent Adventure in San Diego. Non-academic classes such as Hands on Science, Friendly French and performing arts workshops were offered in the morning. A three-week Club Harker session was added at the end of the original five-week camp offering families even more options, providing a more relaxed format of the regular program, as well as offering World Camp, an intensive English instruction that ended with a California Caravan Tour.
Today, Harker continues to offer fun and popular summer programs, including the Summer Institute, Tennis Program, Swim Program and Music School.