The best Irish summer camps to suit your kids
Make this summer go by in a whirl of fun and activity - find a great camp for your child, says Arlene Harris
It's hard to believe, but that time of year is almost upon us again: in a matter of weeks, the children will be off school. With eight weeks to fill, many parents will be looking for some way to entertain their energetic brood which doesn't involve breaking the bank or indeed breaking a sweat as the constant refrain of 'I'm bored' threatens to reach saturation.
To help alleviate parental stress and childish boredom, we have compiled a list of action-packed summer camps that are sure to entertain, amuse and tire out your little darlings over the upcoming holidays.
For teenagers or older children, a residential camp is just the ticket as it gives them, what is often, their first taste of independence while either learning a new skill or meeting new friends - or even better, both.
Technology is where it's at nowadays and many children are savvier than their parents when it comes to navigating a computer screen. So, if your youngster has a 'tecchie' brain and is interested in a career in IT; or even if he simply likes playing computer games, then Whizzkids summer camp is perfect.
Designed for children of all abilities, aged between eight and 17 years, Whizzkids has programmes nationwide, including UCD, DCU, UL, IT Tralee, IT Clonmel and NUIG and NUI Maynooth. There is bound to be a camp close enough for your screen-loving child to take part.
Children should bring headphones and a packed lunch with drinks. All other equipment will be provided. For the week-long residential camps, clothes, swim and sports gear need to be brought - teens are also allowed to bring their own laptops/tablets.
Whizzkids have half-day specialist camps, full-day mixed activity camps and residential camps, priced at €95/€149/€450 respectively.
• Cupla focal
For thousands of teenagers, an Irish summer wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Gaeltacht. Whether your child is attending an Irish-speaking school, wants to brush up on their skills for Irish class or simply wants to enjoy a traditional rite of passage, there are plenty of places to choose from.
Most camps offer daily classes followed by an afternoon of activities, including swimming, orienteering, ball games and outdoor adventures. Then, after some food and time to relax, the highlight of each day is the nightly ceili in which friendships are made and a few steps might even be learned.
As most camps are residential, children will be required to bring enough clothes to last the duration of their trip, swimming and sports gear, a musical instrument, if applicable, and any medication that he/she is taking.
The price of these camps will vary, but for a three-week residential stay, most start at around €800, including transport and all meals.
• Horizon camps
With adventure camps in Westport, Tipperary, Kildare and Dublin, teenagers will be kept on their toes at one of the residential Horizon camps.
Activities include water sports, outdoor pursuits, quad biking, horse riding and a range of sports.
There is also an option to learn French or Spanish and to mingle with European students during afternoon and evening entertainment. This will not only enhance the opportunity for perfecting language skills, but will also broaden your teenagers' horizons in every sense of the word.
Camp prices vary depending on location, but for a two-week residential stay, most start at €800 including all meals.
• Maths challenge
Maths can be incorporated into so many aspects of everyday life. At the Connemara Maths Academy, tutors will help your teens to get to grips with maths challenges through 'promoting critical thinking, problem solving and educated risk taking'.
At the residential camps on the west coast, participating teens will engage in aviation adventure, creative technology and adventure sports all while enhancing their knowledge of maths. Suitable for 13-17 year olds, the week-long camps cost from €600 for bed/board. www.connemaramathsacademy.com
And for those whose children aren't quite old or adventurous enough to stay away from home, there are plenty of options for day camps in the Dublin/east coast region.
• 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 over 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 from five to 17 years and times vary according to clubs.
Incorporating singing, hip-hop dance, acting, fun, games, self-esteem and confidence-building in a non-competitive, fun-filled and safe environment, Starcamps are suitable for both boys and girls aged between four and 13. No experience is required and often it is the shy child who finds her inner diva whilst hitting stage for the first time.
Children should bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink. They should wear comfortable clothing such as leggings or tracksuit, and soft shoes or runners. Starcamp T-shirts are provided.
Starcamp summer camps are located in venues across Dublin (and nationwide). The week-long courses cost €90 and run from 9.30am to 2.30pm. www.starcamp.ie
If your child is hell bent on a career on the stage or in the movies, then there is nothing for it but to embrace their passion and help them to make the most of their talent.
The Gaiety School of Acting offers summer camps for anyone aged seven and above. This camp offers acting advice from experts and also teaches children how to make a movie - including writing, acting and getting the light and sound right. Budding actors should bring a packed lunch, a drink, a 'smile and an open mind'.
The different camps vary in times and location, but most are a week long and cost €200.
• Let's Go activity camps
For children with a lot of energy, the Let's Go camps are the ideal way to let off steam. The action-packed sports camps offers a wide range of traditional sports as well as a selection of games, including Wrecking Ball, Zorbee Ball Roll, Wobbly Ladder, KMX Karting and the Eliminator game.
Located in venues all around the country, these camps include outdoor and indoor activities and no two days are the same.
Separated into age groups, Let's Go offers two programmes - one for five to six year olds, which offers an introduction into the fast pace of the summer camp and the other for seven to 13 year olds.
The camp runs from 9.30am to 3.30pm daily and children should bring a packed lunch, plenty of water and sports wear. The weekly price is €90 for the first child with significant family discounts. www.letsgo.ie
• Soccer school
For many children, soccer is always big on the agenda and the FAI soccer schools offer children the chance to brush up on their skills with coaching, matches and expert advice during their week-long summer camps.
Activities include warm-up, fundamental skills training, mini leagues and tournaments.
Suitable for boys and girls aged from six to 14 years, each camp runs for five days from 10.30am to 3pm. Taking place in venues all over Ireland, the first camp begins on July 2 and the final week starts on August 20.
Designed to cater for players of all ages and ability, the FAI summer schools cost from €65. Children should take a healthy packed lunch with plenty of water and football boots.
• Cul Camps
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 all over the country with a mixture of games and activities.
Suitable for boys and girls between the 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, rain jackets and change of gear, sunscreen, hat and towel.
• Dunmore East Adventure Centre
With camps running every week in July and August, this waterside activity programme in Dunmore East, Co Waterford, is perfect for any child who likes getting wet. Activities include indoor adventure caving, Wibit Wipeout, windsurfing, kayaking, water trampoline, sailing, abseiling and rock climbing for older children and pedal boats, aqua Olympics, orienteering and arts and crafts for 5-7 year olds.
Campers should bring a packed lunch, drinks, a spare pair of footwear and swimwear. All other equipment is provided.
Suitable for children from five years, the camp costs from €210 with family and group discounts.