Tuesday 12 December 2017

Putting fun in focus! Here are the top adult summer camps

The school break has begun and children around Ireland will be gearing up for camps and courses to keep them entertained all summer long. But why should the little ones have all the fun? Summertime gives grown-ups the perfect chance to sign up for something new, too. From photography and golf to wine-tasting, here Arlene Harris rounds up the top adult summer camps across the country

It takes more than clicking a button to capture a beautiful photograph - and courses can teach you how.
It takes more than clicking a button to capture a beautiful photograph - and courses can teach you how.
Wine tasting
Comhaltas ceoltoiri
Darina Allen teaches at Ballymaloe cookery school
Irish landscape painting

Arlene Harris

Whether educational, motivational, physical or simply jam-packed with fun, a stint in at least one summer camp has become the norm for Irish kids during the break from school. But how many adults think about doing the same?

As well as giving you a much-needed break and the chance to have fun, research shows that stepping out of your comfort zone can actually boost your health. According to Dr Denise Park, of the University of Texas, in Dallas, those who try "something unfamiliar and challenging that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially" will see an improvement in their memory and brain function. Read on for a list of the top courses open to adults during the summer months…


With the help of technology, everyone who owns a smartphone is now a master photographer, or likes to think they are anyway. But it takes more than clicking a button to capture the real beauty of a stunning landscape or the depth of feeling in someone's eyes - so for anyone who wants to perfect the art of photography, a summer course in the spectacular Burren area of Clare is the answer.

Here, five-day programmes will look at how to make the most of your equipment, how to optimise the camera to produce extraordinary photographs and also how to create the final prints.

Do it: Tuition for these in-depth courses led by Robert Ellis cost €420. Accommodation for the courses is provided at the self-catering Burren College Housing and costs €45 per night.

Visit: burrencollege.ie


For anyone who has ambitions of Oscar-winning screenplays, or for those who want to learn how to write movie scripts and learn how to put together the end result, the Five-Days, Five Skills course at Filmbase in Dublin is the course for you. The intensive 'essential skills' workshop focuses on scriptwriting, directing, producing, camera and sound and, finally, editing.

Do it: The five-day course takes place in Temple Bar and costs €375.

Visit: filmbase.ie

Creative writing

It is said that we all "have a book in us" so if this is true what could be a better way to launch your writing career than taking an intensive course from an experienced author? With tips on how to get started, choose your subject matter, hone your writing skills and ultimately produce an interesting piece of work, the six- to eight-week summer courses from the Irish Writers Centre, could be just the ticket.

Do it: Courses are all Dublin-based and do not include accommodation or food. Fees cost from €165 depending on duration and content of the programme.

Visit: irishwriterscentre.ie


Irish landscape painting

There is something so therapeutic about painting but most of us hang up our brushes as soon as we leave school, believing there is no point in trying to be artistic unless we possess some rare talent. But this doesn't have to be the case as dabbling with water-colours, charcoal or oils can be immensely satisfying and relaxing, regardless of ability.

With courses running in Wicklow and Connemara (pictured centre right), the Irish School of Landscape Painting offers the perfect opportunity for budding artists to spend a week in the countryside getting to grips with the right end of a paintbrush.

Do it: The week-long courses including tuition, accommodation and food, cost from €340.

Visit: irishschooloflandscapepainting.com

Green living

Anyone who lives and works in the city must hanker after a taste of the 'Good Life' and nowhere is this more apparent than at Seed Savers in Co Clare. This trust was set up to prevent heritage plant species from extinction and every year organisers hold courses for adults on various aspects of sustainable living.

From foraging to wine-making and basket weaving to planting an orchard, there should be something for every rural enthusiast.

Do it: Workshops take place throughout the year costing €70. Food is available on site at the café. Accommodation is available locally.

Visit: irishseedsavers.ie

Language skills

It's a rite of passage for Irish teenagers, but for those adults who missed the chance to go to Irish college during their schooldays, help is at hand in the form of a Gael Linn summer course. The experience may not include a strict Bean an Tí or an illicit first kiss with a fellow student, but it does offer the opportunity for beginners to learn a cúpla focal. Or for those who already have a good grasp of the language, there's intermediate and advanced course options.

Suitable for adults and teenagers, the programme includes language classes, learning support materials, and fun as Gaeilge.

Do it: Courses take place in Donegal, West Cork and Dublin, and will run during July and August, while special courses may also be provided to cater for the specific needs of organisations.

Visit: gaellinn.ie

Wine appreciation

Wine tasting

There is nothing nicer than a glass of chilled white wine on a hot summer's day or, in contrast, a rich red by the fire in the depths of winter. But how many of us know the difference between a Bordeaux and a Beaujolais or a Sancerre and a Chablis? Help is at hand in the form of an in-depth wine-appreciation course.

With a relaxed and informal tone, these evening classes (pictured above right) are suitable for everyone, from complete beginners to those who want to further their existing knowledge.

Do it: Held at Wine Buff venues across the country, times and prices vary according to course and location. To find out more, or to book a course, contact your local Wine Buff store.

Visit: thewinebuff.com



Darina Allen teaches at Ballymaloe cookery school

The trend for home-cooked food shows no sign of abating and no one wants to be left out in the cold when it comes to impressing friends and family with their culinary skills. So, budding chefs will love the summer cookery courses at Ballymaloe Cookery School.

With a variety of programmes ranging from half a day to a full week, the expert team - often led by Darina (pictured left) or Rachel Allen - promises that students will leave with a delicious and reliable repertoire of recipes and menus, from unusual international dishes to traditional favourites and a lot more besides.

After a day in the kitchen, students are encouraged to relax in the grounds of Ballymaloe House, playing tennis, wandering around the herbaceous borders, or looking at the farm animals and organic crops in the glasshouses.

Do it: Courses run throughout the summer and prices vary depending on duration and content of the programme, with half days starting from €95.

Visit: cookingisfun.ie



Comhaltas ceoltoiri

Christy Moore famously said that "if it's music you want, you should go to Clare," - so with that in mind, where better to master an instrument or show off your vocal chords than at the Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann (pictured top left) which is taking place in Ennis during the month of August.

Scoil Éigse is the official summer school organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, where students of all ages can register for instrumental music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes.

Its team of international tutors are all master performers and whether students choose to perfect their fiddle playing, learn some Sean-Nós steps or even re-learn the long forgotten words to a favourite ballad, Ennis is the place to be this summer.

Do it: Classes cost from €135 and include recitals and a tutors' concert.

Visit: comhaltas.ie



If you've ever been tempted by the idea of the wind in your hair and the salty spray of the ocean on your lips, then a sailing course could be your ticket to an ocean adventure.

Sailing Ireland offers courses to suit all levels of experience from full-day introductory classes for beginners to week-long Skills-Training and Skipper programmes which include food, safety equipment, tuition and all the necessary gear.

Do it: Prices cost from €100 but places are limited, so you need to book early.

Visit: sailingireland.ie



Ever dreamt of seeing yourself on the silver screen? Dublin's Gaiety School of Acting - which boasts alumni such as Poldark star Aidan Turner and Love/Hate's Charlie Murphy - runs a Summer Drama course that builds towards each student presenting a monologue. It promises to improve your communication skills and confidence even if it doesn't lead to fame and fortune. If you can hold a tune, there is also a musical theatre course on offer. And best of all, the courses run from 7-10pm so you can fit them in after work.

Do it: The Summer Drama course runs Mondays and Wednesdays from July 18 to August 8, and the Musical Theatre course is on Tuesdays and Thursdays from August 9 to 25. Both courses cost €295.

Visit: gaietyschool.com


It's not just the kids who can benefit from a sporting summer camp as many adults may also need to improve their game.

Golfing enthusiasts who want to dedicate some serious time to perfecting their swing should head to the golf academy at the K Club in Kildare where people of all abilities have the opportunity to discover their inner Shane Lowry.

Set in a relaxed and fun environment, tuition will largely be based around the natural learning process and participants will learn how to self-coach long after their course is over.

Do it: Cost of courses varies depending on duration and content.

Visit: kclub.ie

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