GN Focus | Dubai Summer Surprises

School's out, summer camp's in!

The emirate offers a host of interesting summer camps that promise to keep your little ones occupied, while imparting valuable experience and instilling useful skills

  • By Chiranti Sengupta | Features Writer
  • Published: 23:59 June 13, 2012
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: Corbis

With schools closed for two months, summer in the UAE can become pretty monotonous for both children and parents, who really don’t want to spend their time haranguing their offspring.

In the absence of any regular activities, children all too often end up spending their holidays glued to the television set, playing video games or browsing social networking sites.

Australian Katy Jason, Dubai-based mum to eight-year-old Jane, is truly worried about how to keep her daughter busy during summer, when she cannot allow her to play outside because of the soaring temperatures. Having no plans to travel abroad this year, she wants her daughter to get involved in activities that not only keep her productively busy for hours but also help her develop new skills.

Parents can of course, organise activities at home, but if they plan to send their children to an organised summer camp they must ensure that they will get to experience something new, preferably activities that they have not already done at school.

Psychological impact
Parenting counsellors say that a carefully chosen summer camp can have an immense impact on the child’s education: it can help the child enhance existing knowledge while helping develop new interests.

“Get children involved in activities that allow them to build non-academic skills,” says Devika Singh, Psychologist and Learning Enrichment Specialist, Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre. This can contribute to their overall development and help strengthen their alternative intelligence — abilities that are not IQ-based.

“Children get the chance to form new friendships at summer camps, learn social skills and challenge themselves physically and mentally when they learn a new skill or work on existing ones. This sense of achievement boosts their confidence,” adds Singh.

Focus on age-related fun
To make summer holidays memorable for children, parents should select activities that are varied, engaging and fun. “While deciding on a summer camp, always ensure that activities offered are age-appropriate and suitable to the ability of your child so that she can fully enjoy them,” says Lynn Nolan, Founder and Managing Partner, Rentacrib, a Dubai based company that specialises in child-proofing products.

“It is also important for a parent to make sure that the camp is adequately supervised, employs instructors who are qualified in first aid and other life-saving techniques, and only allows experienced staff to conduct activities such as swimming, rock climbing, trampoline and gymnastics,” adds Nolan.

Summer camps in the UAE are thankfully not just about fun and frolic. Most have been carefully designed to keep children entertained, while helping them nurture creativity and inculcate good habits. My Gym in Dubai, for instance, designs programmes specifically to meet the physical, emotional and cognitive needs of children between six months to 13 years.

Explore creativity
“Our summer camp programme retains activities of our weekly classes, but it is slightly less structured and incorporates more games to enhance the fun element of the camp,” says Pia Bahri, Managing Partner, My Gym.“We also incorporate arts and crafts, where children work on both simple and complex projects that help them refine their fine motor skills and explore creativity.”

Engaging children in hands-on real life activities, cooking and housekeeping, for instance, can also be a fun learning experience for them. The summer camp at the Millennium Hotel, Abu Dhabi allows children to visit its kitchen with a chef and learn how to prepare few simple dishes such as cookies, pizza and fresh fruit juices.

“We try to involve children in activities that they enjoy and at the same time, help them discover their hidden talents,” says Nevine Albert, Director, Public Relations and Communications, Millennium Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

Strike a balance
To ensure a truly enriching experience for your children, try striking a balance between your children’s current and new interests. “One way to do this is to make a list of things they want to pursue, and then add a few new ones that you think they might enjoy. If they are old enough, do this in discussion with them,” advises Singh.

A selection of summer camps available in the UAE

Favourite Things
Favourite Things Mother and Child at the Dubai Marina Mall lets children participate in activities such as arts and crafts, storytelling, drama, puppet shows and cooking. The camp is open to children aged two to eight years. Camp prices are Dh620 for non-members and Dh520 for members, for five days.
Contact 04 434 1984

Al Nasr Leisureland
Bursting with activities that include swimming, billiards, arts and crafts, skating, dancing and Quran reading, Al Nasr Leisureland will operate its summer camp until August 31 for children aged between seven and 13 years. The camp registration fee is Dh725 for one month.
Contact 050 559 7055

Active Sports Academy
This multi-activity summer camp for young people aged four to 14 years will ensure they remain active during the long summer months. Active Sports will organise special summer coaching programmes in tennis, swimming, soccer and basketball. The camps will be held at Wafi Pyramids, Dubai English Speaking School and Regent International School from 8.30am to 2pm, between July 1 and August 30. Daily and weekly rates are available to suit schedules: Dh150 for one day, Dh375 for three days and Dh550 for five days.
Contact 050 559 7055

Dubai Holiday Camp
Indigo Entertainment operates its summer camps at Dubai International Academy (DIA), Emirates Hills from July 1 to August 30, Raffles International School, south campus, Umm Suqeim from June 24 to August 16 and Deira International School (DIS), Festival City from July 1 to August 16. It will also run a full-day camp at the Raffles International School. All camps are open to children between three to 14 years of age, with activities including football, basketball, dodgeball, tennis, inflatable climbing wall, swimming, water polo, drama, arts and crafts, face painting, drawing, music, cooking and playground games. Costs Dh150 a day or Dh625 a week for a half-day camp at DIA. Contact 04 331 8704

Finishing Touch
Finishing Touch at the Knowledge Village will run a two-week summer camp from June 24 to August 30. Children will get special training in international and cross-cultural etiquette, English and mathematics, in addition to enjoying regular fun activities at the camp. Camp fees for youth etiquette, English club, mathematics and other activities are Dh1,850, Dh1,450, Dh1,550 and Dh950 respectively. Contact 04 427 2452

Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre
The Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre will organise summer workshops for children aged eight to 11 years and 12 to 15 years on topics such as ‘The Road to Happiness: Positive Thinking and Positive Eating’ and ‘Emotional Intelligence: The Smarter way to Success’.  Costs Dh250 per child. Contact 04 335 1200

Jumeirah Music Centre
Music summer camps here are educational and entertaining for children aged three to eight years. Each session will focus on different well-known composers. Children will learn about these composers’ works and listen to their compositions. Costs Dh550 for five days.
Contact 04 349 2662

Atlantis, The Palm
The Atlantis Kids Club will organise action-packed summer camps this year focusing on adventure, fun and exploration through group play. New this summer is its Access All Areas Summer Camps at Club Rush, offering children opportunities to participate in various exciting summer programmes and workshops, a great way to beat the heat and a chance to make new friends.
Contact 04 426 1000

Millennium Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Help your child get a hang of the hospitality industry with Millennium Hotel’s fun summer camp. Your child can participate in specialised sessions in housekeeping and cooking; or choose from the list of regular activities available such as swimming, yoga, story telling and games. The camp will run for two months starting on July 1. Camp rates are Dh670 for one week, Dh1,070 for two weeks, Dh1,470 for three weeks and Dh1,970 for four weeks. Rates include breakfast
and lunch.
Contact 02 614 6000

My Gym
The summer camp at My Gym from July 1 to September 8 offers half a day of fun and fitness through gymnastics, arts, crafts, cooking and science, with changing weekly themes. The rate for their accompanied baby camp for children aged 18-36 months is Dh150 a day. Rates for the independent camp for children aged 3½ to 8 years are Dh200 a day and Dh850 a week. Contact 04 394 3962

— C.S.

GN Focus