Summer activities and camps have been a family staple for years, but now they are taking on even greater significance, as the thing that can save summer 2020 for thousands of families.
Children are keen to reconvene with their peers and pals and have some fun, and parents balancing childcare and working from home are equally keen to let 'home-school' out for the summer.
Last week, it was announced that certain summer camps may operate as Ireland makes its way out of lockdown. Many activities organisers have moved their operations online, meaning that virtual camps are enjoying a surge in popularity.
Luckily, there are plenty of options for kids looking to learn something new, and parents hoping for a little time and space in their day.
Remember that with in-person camps, numbers are greatly reduced and available on a first-come, first-served basis. And, as organisers are working with government Covid guidelines, dates and circumstances may change.
Once upon a time, Billie Barry had the monopoly on stage-struck kids… now, would-be stars will be making their way to Starcamp's online summer camp. Basing their programmes on current movies and TV shows, campers get to reenact dance moves and acting scenes they already know and love.
The camp will be similar in format to RTÉ's Home School Hub focus on hip-hop, social games and audition technique, thanks to a team of drama teachers, choreographers and coaches. Camps run for 90 minutes a day from 10am from July 13-17. Families who book in June will pay €30 per family.
More information can be found at starcamp.ie or on 021 4377900.
Whizzkids summer camps have offered activities from web design and film to video game programming and video editing for children aged 8-15. With universities not opening campuses over the summer, the action is now moving online. Students can enroll in the online academy, which gives students an account to progress at their own pace (online academy memberships is €80 for the year, or €25 for three months).
Alternatively, virtual summer camps run for an hour from Monday-Friday (next start date is June 22). Children will learn in avatar-led lessons. Right now, choose from an introduction to coding, 3D game development, or web design with coding.
Virtual Camps cost €50 for the week with a limit of 12 children per group. Dates and availability can be found here: whizzkids.ie/book, or call (0) 61 339178 for the lowdown.
Pine Forest Art Camps
Tucked away in the Dublin Mountains, Glencullen provides picturesque inspiration for any youngster wanting to brush up on their creativity. Organisers are hopeful that in-person camps are going ahead from June 29, but are still mindful that restrictions may change that start date. Their plan to keep pupils safe means that children will attend camps in 'bubbles' of 12-15 children, and activities happen both inside and outside.
The courses are priced at €265 for juniors, €295 for seniors and €580 for portfolio prep, and run every two weeks starting June 29. Places are available to book, but limited.
See pineforestartcentre.com or call 01 294 1220 for further details.
Gaiety School of Acting
As the training ground for Olivia Wilde, Aidan Turner and Colin Farrell, it stands to reason that demand for the GSA summer camps have been high. They, too, are reimagining their set-up, with three camps for children aged 13-18 via Zoom.
Choose from: Musical Theatre (July 6-10, 10am-12pm, €120); Film Making/Acting for Camera (July 13-17, 10am-12pm, €120) or Casting Call (July 20-22, 10am-12pm, €120). Each group is limited to 10 attendees. See gaietyschool.com/summer-2020/ for information. Younger children, meanwhile, can avail of online resources to keep little ones entertained at gaietyschool.com/home-resources/.
There's more info to be found at gaietyschool.com or by calling 01 679 9277.
Want your teen to learn more about the basics of smartphone filmmaking? Burning House Productions are offering this online course, designed to teach teenagers about scriptwriting, directing, editing and shooting scenes with a smartphone. After taking a class online, teens will be encouraged to work on their film outside of class time. The course is €70 and runs July 8-10.
See burninghouse.ie for more information.
GAA Kellogg's Cul Camps, countrywide
After the GAA has recently released their 'Safe Return To GAA Games' strategy, it's widely expected that Kellogg's plan to run their popular Cul Camps for young GAA enthusiasts later this summer. Open to kids aged 6-13, Cul Camps have always promised an action-packed week, covering all aspects of GAA sports.
Attendance is likely to be limited, and children will be limited to attending one camp, so book early. Online bookings will re-open in the next few weeks with dates for late July and August, on kelloggsculcamps.gaa.ie.
The camps, which run from 10am-2.30pm Monday to Friday, are expected to cost €60, or €55 for a second child in the family.
Arty types will find much to like in Inspireland's array of comic-making, sculpture and animation camps. Attendees are sent the materials in advance and from 10.30am to 2.30am Monday to Friday, would-be artists get to work in online classes alongside live tutors. Suitable for artists aged 8-18, and classes in July and August cost €170.
See inspireland.ie for more details.
For footie fans aged 4-13 who prefer a spread of activities, Astro Park (locations at Coolock and Tallaght) plan to open their camps from July 20 onwards. If your kids have ever been curious about trying Nerf Astro Wars or Bubble Football, this could well be their chance. The five-day camps run from 10am-3pm and cost €75 per child (or €60 for the August Bank Holiday week).
See astropark.ie/kids for details on how to book.
Cool Food School
It's back to Zoom for healthy cookery classes served up by health coach Deirdre Doyle. Kids aged 8-11 can sign up for classes on the weeks of July 6 and July 20. They start at 11am daily and finish at 1pm, right in time for lunch. The classes are €75 per week.
See thecoolfoodschool.ie for details.
Run by NCAD teachers, the Artzone summer camps provide a brilliant array of activities. General summer art camps help novices to kick-start their creativity, while enthusiasts can choose from fashion, film, animation or comic book illustration.
For now, interactive Zoom classes are happening on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Artzone plan to operate limited-size camps in Dundrum, Rathfarnham, and Castleknock in August (dates TBC), with safety measures in place.
More info can be found at artzone.ie/camps/summer or 01 4990614.
Academy Of Code
This summer's offerings are moving online, and are keeping classes small to facilitate learning. Coders of all abilities and levels of experience are welcome to these four-day camps (€55 each). The term started this week (on June 8), and 10 weeks of weekly classes can be booked for €119.
See theacademyofcode.com for details.
Surfing Camp at the Donegal Adventure Centre, Bayview Avenue, Bundoran, Co Donegal
Bundoran has long been a surfing hotspot (well, as hot as it gets in the North West), and the Donegal Adventure Centre offers popular daily camps for kids, teens and families (ages 8-17). There are also residential options, so that kids can enjoy a week immersed in the surf with friends. It's not all fun and frolics in the sea, either; archery, climbing, Jiu Jitsu and skateboarding are also on the menu.
See donegaladventurecentre.com or ring 07198 42418 for information. Places are available on the multi-activity teen and junior camps (€70 per week for a half day camp, €150 per week for a full day, starting on August 19 and 26).
The popular language school has moved their summer camps online to a virtual classroom. Suitable for 5-18-year-olds, languages are taught via live Zoom events, while downloads and PDFs are also offered to facilitate easy learning. Beginning June 29 for five weeks, their camps run from 10.30am for an hour, Monday to Friday.
Camps are €49 a week: see littlelingua.com for the lowdown.
'We've given up," says mum-of-two Deirdre Murphy simply. "It wasn't a decision I made lightly. We're not lazy, we don't want to undermine or underestimate all the work the teachers have done or are currently doing, but my husband and I are not teachers. I do not have the skill set or the patience to keep up the school work. When school finished I had great intentions to do an hour of school work every morning. But within a few days it was becoming a struggle."
For days it was planned, then executed with precision. Sand bags, tarpaulin, a few wooden pallets. I watched from the window as the den took shape, not realising that soon it would become more important than we could've imagined.