Happy campers: Finding the summer camp to suit the kids
Whether your youngsters are GAA fanatics, mad on music or budding actors, Arlene Harris discovers there is a summer camp to suit
With some secondary schools now closed, and primary schools set to finish up in a few weeks, many parents will have just realised they have no contingency plans for the long months ahead.
Because our weather is so unpredictable, the prospect of lazy-hazy days in the garden or by the coast is far from guaranteed, so it is essential to have a few activities in the pipeline.
For people of my generation, it's far from summer camps we were reared, but they have become the norm for our children and it doesn't matter if your youngsters are sports enthusiasts, musical geniuses or budding actors, there will be an activity somewhere to suit them.
STRETCH AND GROW
Stretch-n-grow is a nationwide exercise programme designed especially for children aged between three and seven. Its aim is to teach children that exercise is fun and to encourage good healthy habits through exercise and food which will last a lifetime.
The activities include a 45-minute Stretch-n-Grow class, obstacle courses, relay races, arts and crafts, healthy eating discussions and games, outdoor play, a dressing up day, treasure hunts and a host of old-fashioned children's games.
Classes, dates and prices vary depending on location.
ANYONE FOR TENNIS?
Every summer the world goes crazy for tennis and while few of us have access to courts on a regular basis, our children can learn the basics with Parks Tennis Camps, which are located all across the country.
The two-week camp offers one-hour daily sessions, which will teach youngsters the basics or offer those with a little more knowledge of the game the opportunity to fine-tune their skills.
Tennis rackets are provided on the court but personal ones can also be used. Sports gear, tennis shoes and rain wear are essential. The camps are suitable for children aged from five to 17 years and cost from €30 for two weeks.
Times vary according to clubs so to find out about the venue nearest to you See parkstennis.com
If your little ones have ever fancied learning how to ride the waves, then perhaps an introduction to sailing is just the summer course.
Try a Sail Day takes place on July 12 and 13 and includes a full day's experience during a trip to the Saltee Islands. It is suitable for all ages and levels of experience and costs between €60 and €100.
CEOL AGUS CRAIC
Willie Clancy is Ireland's largest traditional music summer school, held annually in Co Clare since 1973 in memory of the piper Willie Clancy. During the first week of July, a thousand students from every part of the world attend daily classes in Irish music, song and dance.
In addition, a full programme of lectures, recitals, céilithe (traditional dances) and exhibitions are available.
The week-long school costs €140 and musicians should bring their instruments.
All events are held in and near Miltown Malbay, from July 5-13.
CUL IN THE GANG
An Irish childhood wouldn't be complete without GAA activities and for those children who want extra time on the pitch, Cul Camps offer week-long sessions with a mixture of games and activities.
Suitable for boys and girls between the ages of six and 13, the camps run from 10am to 2pm daily in venues in every county in Ireland. The week-long camp costs €55 and includes a sports kit and bag. Discounts are available for siblings and anyone enrolling for a second week.
Cul campers should bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink, hurley and helmet, playing gear (tracksuit, shorts, runners and or boots), mouth-guard, rain jackets and change of gear, sunscreen, hat and towel.
ON THE BALL
Sticking with sport, the FAI summer soccer schools are suitable for boys and girls from six to 14 years of age. The week-long camps are held all over the country and are guaranteed to be action-packed, energetic and fun.
Camps cost €65 for the mainstream programme and €50 for those who are only interested in goalkeeping.
Budding soccer stars should bring shin-guards, mouth-shield, football boots, runners, rain jacket, sunscreen, a packed lunch and plenty to drink. A full FAI kit and bag will be provided on registration.
Most children love building with Lego and the Learn It camps give youngsters from six to 10 and older the chance to fine-tune their engineering skills with a variety of different classes throughout the summer all across the country.
There are three different age groups: Junior Engineers for six to seven year olds; Machines and Mechanisms for eight to 11 year olds and Senior Robotics for children over 11. Camps start at 10am and finish at 2pm each day. Children will work in teams of two or three on a variety of projects throughout the week.
Following a curriculum devised by Learn It, they will start off with simple projects on day one and work towards developing these skills to build more complex and larger projects.
Children should bring lunch and refreshments. The camps range from €100 to €135 per week.
LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU
Starcamp summer camps are located in venues across Ireland and run for a week in each location – starting from 9.30am and finishing at 2.30pm daily.
Incorporating singing, musical theatre, hip-hop dance, acting, vocal training, games, self-esteem and even TV opportunities, the camps are suitable for both boys and girls aged between four and 13. No experience is required.
Children should bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink. They should also wear comfortable clothing such as leggings or track suits and soft shoes or runners. Starcamp T-shirts are provided. The camp costs €90 with discounts for siblings.
See starcamp.ie for details and a chance to win a free place
Wild animals hold a fascination for most children, so what better way to get up close and personal with some of the world's most exciting animals than enrolling in a summer camp at Fota Island summer camp in Carrigtwohill in Cork? All activities are focused on nature awareness and conservation and the aim of the camp is to engender a respect for the natural world in children of all ages by using a play approach to learning.
Children should bring a packed lunch, suitable outdoor clothing, sun cream and rain gear. Suitable for children aged five to 12 . The week-long camp costs €95 per child (with a 10% discount for three or more children attending together). It runs from 11am to 4pm daily from July 21-25, and August 11-15.
See fotawildlife.ie or call 021 481 2678
With computers and technology playing a bigger role in our everyday lives, Whizzkids has a range of programmes that open up the world of multimedia to boys and girls aged eight and above.
Located at various venues around the country, including Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick, these camps are hi-tech courses covering web-design, video game programming, animation and digital design. Suitable for children of all abilities, this fully "weather-proofed" camp mixes indoor and outdoor action, with sports, code-breaking and a host of hi-tech challenges in a "Spy Academy".
Held in state-of-the-art facilities in venues such as UCD, DCU, CIT, UL and NUIG, with half-day, full-day and residential camps on offer, there is something for everyone aged eight to 17.
Children should bring headphones and a packed lunch with drinks. All other equipment will be provided. Half-day camps run from 9.30 until 1pm and cost €80. Full-day camps run from 9.30am to 3.30pm and cost €149. And six-night residential camps at the University of Limerick cost €425 full board with private room.
See whizzkids.ie or call 061 339178
Spending a few weeks at Irish college seems to be a rite of passage for teenagers. Away from home, but in a secure environment, the students (aged between 11 and 18) will learn 'cupla focal', make new friends and engage in a variety of energetic activities.
Gael Linn courses take place in three major Gaeltacht areas – Donegal, West Cork and North Mayo – and will run during June, July and August and cost from €740.