Image Credit: Illustrations by Dana Shams

Keeping kids gainfully occupied through the summer holidays is a task parents face each year, and the singular way out they find is summer camps — not just to keep the children busy but also to stop themselves from tearing out their hair. “Summer holidays in Dubai are 60 days long. The most stringent discipline and routine at home cannot drum out the boredom that will arise in a child’s mind after the first ten days of the break,” says Sreekala Suresh Kumar, a counsellor at Dubai Modern High School.

“[The best summer camp is] one that is safe, where the child enjoys himself; one where the child can look forward to bringing back home some learning beyond the book; one that helps him experience life,” says Axel Rodericks, camp co-ordinator at the same school.

“Camps are a win-win situation for parents who work and would otherwise worry or feel guilty about how their children are spending holiday time,” explains Dubai-based parent and educationist Christine Simmonds.

While the first consideration for parents, especially those who are working, is safety (apart from cost), the child’s interest should also be factored in when choosing a suitable camp. “Any summer camp has to be enjoyable,” Simmonds says. “No parent wants to pay for a camp where their child won’t enjoy.”

At 15, Abbie, Simmonds’s daughter, is also quite clear about her expectations from the camp experience. “It’s a place where I can be creative and express myself without feeling out of place or worried about sharing my ideas.”

Stuti Mathur, mother of two and a primary schoolteacher, says: “I am a little wary of sending my children to summer camps, as, compared to regular school, I feel camps may not have a proper safety system in place. Schools have transport departments, trustworthy teachers, etc. Sometimes camps take more children in one group and are unable to handle it.”

Most camp organisers have a system in place to allay such doubts. “It is a big responsibility to take charge of someone else’s children, so we make sure parents have the opportunity to declare any issues, for example medical or allergy-related, at the time of booking,” explains Carole Worrall from Active Sports. “The safety of the children is paramount and supervision is a key point for safety. So we work with a child-to-instructor ratio of 15:1, at the most.”

Running a successful camp is definitely tough. “Yes, it is challenging, but we always try to keep the camp schedules fresh and exciting. For summer camps in particular, there will be children who only attend for a few days, right up to those who are with us for many weeks,” Worrall says.

Every year organisers change and develop programmes, keeping in mind that learning is imperative, but not more than fun, says Chris Wind, managing director, Dubai Holiday Camps. “What we are adding or changing every year is to bring games and rides from our entertainment division, for example bouncy castles, inflatable obstacle course, bungee runners, trampolines, mascots and clowns for the little ones [as young as 2 years old],” he says.

Children grow through experience. Positive or negative, these experiences leave a decisive impact on the development of their personalities. To help students educate themselves experientially and make a difference to society, international universities and organisations offer them the opportunity to attend learning camps or charity camps. “A charity camp would be one where you would stay in the locality or close to the locality where the service is rendered,” says Declan Alvaro, Physics teacher and Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) co-ordinator at Dubai International Academy. Alvaro explains that according to experiential learning, the learner must plan, act, observe and reflect. This is what makes the cycle complete.

“The focus is not just on the people served but also on the person providing the service. A charity camp is not of such significance as one that is linked to experiential learning. Experiential learning can also take place when no service is rendered. For example, at a camp students might just learn about a particular craft but engage in all four aspects of the experiential cycle.”

For the past two summers, 17-year-old Anshuman has been doing “useful” things that will “benefit his college application”. He attended the Oxford Summer School in 2010, worked a month at Disha, a school for mentally and physically challenged children in India last year, helped build a school campus in Mauritius this March and is all set to attend the Stanford Summer Course in July-August.

“[Oxford and Stanford] courses are not only educative, but active and interactive as they give us a peek into college life and an opportunity to meet new people, understand their thought processes and broaden our horizons,” said the Dubai-based IB diploma-programme student. “The Mauritius project was part of our CAS programme, where focus is not just on extracurricular activities but on giving the student a chance to face challenges and create an all-rounded personality, which I also learnt at Disha.”

— Shahana Raza is a UAE-based freelance writer






Name: Rustic Pathways

Location: Various international cities and towns

Activities: Adventure, community service, language or life skills programmes are available for high school students, families, groups and college students 12 years and above.

Contact: Call (800) 321-4353; e-mail rustic@rusticpathways.com or visit http://www.rusticpathways.com/programs/


Name: Camps International

Location: School expeditions and curriculum-based field trips to Africa, Asia and Latin America

Activities: Various programmes that run from five days to four weeks throughout the year. Short-terms trips of one- to two-week duration are available for 7- to 16-year-olds and three-four week expeditions for 15- to 18-year-olds.

Contact: Call + 44-0844-800-1127; e-mail info@campsinternational.com or visit http://www.campsinternational.com



Name: Oxford Summer Courses

Location: Set up by Oxford Alumni, it is a privately run company that offers a bespoke educational experience set against the backdrop of the stunning city of Oxford. Get taught by Oxford academics and live in Oxford college accommodation.

Several courses are taught over a two- to four-week period, for students 16 and above. One-to-one tutorials are also offered.

Contact: Call +44(0) 845 0519296; e-mail info@oxfordsummercourses.com or visit http://www.oxfordsummercourses.com/about/


Name: University of Cambridge International Summer Schools

Location: Cambridge, UK

Various courses are available for graduates and undergraduates along with adult learners from July 8-September 1.

Contact: Call +44 (0) 1223 760850; e-mail intenq@ice.cam.ac.uk or visit http://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/courses/summer-schools


Name: Kids Summer Course

Location: Eton Language Institute, Block 3, Knowledge village, Dubai

Languages offered: English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian and German from July 8-26 and July 29-August 15

Cost: Dh825 for 4- to 7-year-olds and 8- to 11-year-olds; Dh1,650 for 12- to 16-year-olds.

Contact: Call 800-3866 or visit www.eton.ac



While there is no dearth of summer camps in the UAE, crossing borders and attending camps in various cities across the world is a thrilling way to combine learning, knowledge about different cultures and making new friends.


Name: Village Camps

Location: Students can participate in programmes across six countries — Switzerland, England, France, Austria, China and Canada.

Activities: More than 30 spectacular activities ranging from adventure and sports to creative arts and language courses for children from 7-18 years.

Contact: Call +41-22990-9400; e-mail camps@villagecamps.com or visit http://www.villagecamps.com/


Name: Les Elfes International

Location: Switzerland

Activities: Sports, languages and discovering Switzerland and its neighbouring countries.

Contact: Call +41-27775-3590 or visit http://www.leselfes.com


Name: MB Scambi

Location: Italy

Activities: Children from 8-16 and young adults from 16-20 have the opportunity to learn English or Italian by the beach, play some exciting sports and partake in creative leisure activities through June and July.

Contact: Call +39 049 8755297; e-mail incoming@mbscambi.com or visit www.mbscambi.com/incoming




Name: Kidzart Sizzling Summer Fun

Locations: DUCTAC Mall of the Emirates; Regent International School; Gems Wellington Silicon Oasis; American Academy Al Mizhar; UpTown School Mirdif; and Jumeirah Baccalaureate School.

Activities: The following programmes are available from July 1-August 16:

Week 1: “So You Want to Be a World Explorer?”, where children will explore different countries through art and architecture.

Week 2: “Secret Agent Camp”, a thrilling spy camp filled with fun, creative projects, painting on canvas or clay, and puzzles to solve where children can train as a secret agent with their friends.

Cost: For 4- to 5-year-olds: Dh550 per week per camp. Register for two weeks and pay Dh1,000 only.

For 6- to 10-year-olds: Dh850 per week per camp. Register for two weeks and pay Dh1,500 only.

Contact: Hetal - 055-2220129


Name: Art Camp 2012 at DIFC

Location: Dubai International Financial Centre

Activities: Interactive and educational learning experiences, hands-on art activities, and games for children from 7-10 years, from July 1-26, from 8:30am-2pm.

This year’s theme looks at “the artist”, drawing inspiration from some of most iconic artists of the 20th century. Using rare and outstanding works of the modern Western art world from Farjam’s private collection, Art Camp 2012 features more than 40 pieces by such names as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro.

Cost: Dh500 per child per week, including all craft materials and activities.

Contact: Call 04-3230303; e-mail info@farjamcollection.org or visit www.farjamcollection.org


Name: Kids & Adults Summer Workshops

Location: Dubai International Arts Centre, Jumeirah Beach Road

Activities: Clay modelling, painting, drawing, mosaic glass painting and cooking for children from 4-11 years old.

Offers for teenagers and adults activities include pottery, 3-D wall art, photography, sculpture, jewellery making, fashion design and illustration, among others.

Cost: For children Dh140 per session or Dh500 for four days; teen and adult workshop prices depend on the course selected.

Camp starts June 17, until the second week of August.

Contact: Call 04 3444398 or visit www.artdubai.com


Name: Kids Art Camp

Location: DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates

Activities: This visual-arts camp offers children between 6 and 12 years the opportunity to explore drawing, painting and ceramics, and learn about famous artists, art techniques and art history from all over the world, from June 24 -July 19, 10am-1.30pm.

Cost: Dh900 for five days. All art supplies and materials are provided.

Contact: Call 04-3414777; e-mail artsreception@ductac.org or visit www.ductac.org



Name: Summer Music Camp

Locations: Popular Music Institute, Wafi Mall; Sing and Swing Training Centre (SAS), Dubai Festival City; Sing and Swing training centre (SAS), IBN Battuta Mall

Activities: The camp gives children the opportunity to learn various instruments at one time, such as piano, guitar, violin, drums and recorder from July 4 to the end of August, with flexible timings for children 5 years and above.

Cost: Dh1,100 per month

Contact: PMI Wafi Mall - call 04-3242626; SAS DFC -call 04-2329955; SAS IBN - call 04-3663985


Name: Kids Theatre Workshop Drama Camp

Location: DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates

Activities: Singing, dancing, acting and story development with a talented team of West End performance instructors from July 1-September 6, 9am-2pm, or 3pm depending on the age group, for children between 3 and 6, and 7 and 12.

Cost: Weekly Dh750, plus one-time registration fee of Dh100 for new students.

Contact: Call 050-1585653 or 04-3414777; ext 234/235


Name: Sharmila Dance Summer Workshop 2012

Location: DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates

Activities: Street jazz, hip hop, contemporary, ballet, Latino and drama, singing and other artistic forms, starting June 28-July 2, for children from 7-12 years of age.

Cost: Dh1450, weekdays 4-9pm or weekends from 10am-5pm.

Contact: Call 050 8581083 or 04-3414777, ext 209; e-mail emmaadmin@sharmiladance.com




Name: Summer Camp at Sinbad’s Kids’ Club

Location: Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Activities: Trips to Wild Wadi, kids’ fitness classes, mini-chef, Xbox tournaments, and arts and crafts for children 5 to 12 years, until August 2.

Cost: Members - Dh100 per child per day or Dh450 per child per week.

Non-members - Dh200 per child per day or Dh850 per child per week.

Rates include lunch and snacks.

Contact: Call 04-406 8761 or visit www.jumeirah.com/sindbadskidsclub



Name: Beat the Heat with Indoor Treats camp

Location: Al Nasr Leisureland, Oudh Metha Road

Activities: Swimming, skating, cooking, baking, billiards, art and crafts, and dance; henna, face painting and outdoor trips, until August 16, 9am-2pm and until 1pm during Ramadan.

For children 3-6 years old; activities include swimming, ice skating, story time and drawing.

Cost: For children 7-13 years old, it’s Dh725; and for those 3-6 years old it’s Dh925 per month, including breakfast and lunch, and free ice skating.

Contact: Call 04-3371234; e-mail zia@alnasrll.ae or visit www.alnasrll.com




Name: Camp Kidville

Locations: JBR; Motor City; Mirdiff

Activities: Gym, arts and crafts, music and hands-on exploration, including fairy princess and superhero training camps until August 23 for children from 18 months-6 years of age.

Cost: Dh400 per week. Flexible weekly or daily sessions are also available.

Snacks will be provided.

Contact: JBR 04-4401220; Motor City 04-4542760 and Mirdiff 04-2363648; or visit www.mykidville.ae


Name: Funcity Summer Camp

Locations: Ibn Battuta; Oasis Centre; Arabian Centre; Reef Mall

Activities: Arts and crafts, martial arts, children’s theatre, interactive cooking, yoga, games, junior scientist, free play, kiddie aerobics, music and dance from June 24, 10am-2pm for children 3-8 years old.

Cost: Dh799 weekly; pay for three weeks and get the fourth week free.

Transportation is available in select venues.

Contact: Ibn Battuta: 04-3669819; Oasis Centre: 04-3397783; Arabian Centre: 04-2845679; Reef Mall: 04-2222405; e-mail summerfun@funcity.ae; or visit www.funcity.ae




Name: Active Sports Academy

Locations: Wafi Pharaohs’ Club; Royal Dubai School, Mirdif; Regent International School, Greens

Activities: Football, tennis, cricket, basketball, gymnastics, dodgeball, badminton, netball, circuit training, baseball, hockey, arts and crafts, swimming and trampoline, along with relay games, team-building exercises and party-themed activities, from July 1-August 30, 8.30am-2pm for children 4-14 years of age.

Cost: Dh150 per day or Dh375 for three days, and Dh550 for a five-day week.

Supervised transport is available in most areas at additional cost.

Contact: Call 0505597055; e-mail info@activeuae.com; or visit www.activeuae.com


Name: Dubai Holiday Camp

Locations: Dubai International Academy (DIA): July 1-August 30; Raffles International School/South Campus (RIS): June 24-August 30; Deira International School (DIS): July 1-August 16; Raffles Lakes Nursery (RLN) and Raffles Marina Nursery (MAR): July 1-August 16.

Activities: For 5- to 14-year-olds: Football, basketball, dodgeball, tennis, inflatable climbing wall, swimming, water polo, inflatable water slide, net ball, karate, cricket, golf, street hockey, gymnastics, table tennis, table football, fit kids, kick rounders, dance, drama, arts and crafts, face painting, drawing, music and movements, computer club, cooking classes, team building, movie time, talent shows, bouncy castles, team and fun games.

For 3- to 4-year-olds: Special classroom-based activity programme consisting of fun games, drawing, colouring, arts and crafts, singing, dancing, free play, small world toys, movie time, storytelling, role plays, face painting, cooking, bouncy castles and playground games. Sports activities include ball skills, mini tennis, gymnastics and swimming.

For 2- to 4-year-olds: Special nursery-based activity programme consisting of special themes such as animal world, keeping healthy, my family and around the world, and activities such as drawing, colouring, arts and crafts, singing, dancing, free play, small world toys, movie time, storytelling, role plays, face painting and playground games.

Cost: At DIA: Dh150 per day or Dh625 per week; at RIS: Dh150 per day or Dh625 per week for a half-day camp, or Dh200 per day and Dh875 per week for a full-day camp; at DIS: Dh125 per day or Dh525 per week; at RLN: Dh150 per day or Dh625 per week; at MAR: Dh150 per day or Dh625 per week. A 20 per cent discount for siblings on weekly bookings.

Contact: admin@dubaiholidaycamps.com


Name: E-Sports Summer Camp

Locations: Wellington International School; Wellington Silicon Oasis; Jumeirah Primary School; Dubai American Academy; Greenfield Community School; Uptown Primary School, Mirdif; Dubai British School; Jumeirah Baccalaureate School

Activities: Football, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, arts and crafts, drama, dance and music, rounders, dodgeball, benchball, basketball, netball, fun and games, languages, ICT, rugby and cricket, starting July 1, 9am-1pm for children 4-14 years of age.

Costs: Between Dh550 and Dh750, depending on venue.

Contact: In Dubai, call 050-5868204/050-3611547; or e-mail camps@esportsdubai.com


Name: Summer Junior Development Programme 2012

Location: Al Badia Golf Club

Activities: Improving fundamental movement skills (FSS) such as chipping with both hands, hoolahooping for balance, until July 12, for children from 5-15 years of age.

Cost: Dh60 per session

Contact: Ed Chapman 04-6010101; e-mail ed.chapman@ichdfc.ae





Name: E-sports Summer Camp

Locations: Gems American Academy; Raha International School

Activities: Football, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, arts and crafts, drama, dance and music, rounders, dodgeball, benchball, basketball, netball, fun and games, languages, ICT, rugby and cricket, starting July 1, 9am-1pm for children 4-14 years old.

Costs: Between Dh550 and Dh750, depending on venue.

Contact: 050-9400704 or e-mail ben@esportsdubai.com


Name: Funcity Summer Camp

Locations: Dalma Mall: 02-5507407; Marina Mall: 02-6815527

Activities: Arts and crafts, martial arts, children’s theatre, interactive cooking, yoga, games, junior scientist, free play, kiddie aerobics, music and dance, from June 24, 10am-2pm for children 3-8 years old.

Cost: Dh799 weekly; pay for three weeks and get the fourth week free.

Transportation is available at select venues.

Contact: E-mail summerfun@funcity.ae or visit www.funcity.ae


Name: Have fun

Location: Sheraton Abu Dhabi

Activities: Swimming, water polo, treasure hunt, sand castle building, table tennis, banana boat and musical activities from June 3-August 30, 9.30am-2pm.

Cost: Dh125 per day

Contact: Call 02-6970272 or visit www.sheraton.com/abudhabi


Name: Humpty Dumpty Summer Programme

Locations: Humpty Dumpty Nursery Al Bateen Branch, 30th street and 11th street; Khalifa City A Branch on 16th street

Activities: Baking day, theme day, art day, music day and splash day for children 2-4 years old, from 7.30am-1.30pm

Cost: Dh800 per week or Dh200 per day

Contact: Al Bateen branch 02-6663277; Khalifa City A branch 02-5561068




Name: Al Marah Children’s Skill Development Camp

Location: Next to Al Taawun Mall.

Activities: Swimming, karate, arts and crafts, basketball, table tennis, snooker, puzzles, board games, from July 1 to the end of August, 9am-1pm, for children 4-13 years old.

Cost: Dh600

Contact: Kurrat at 06-5376116, 055-3230299 or 050-9485190.


Name: Summer Camp 2012

Location: Sharjah Ladies Club

Activities: Water polo, music and movement, splash, dash and swim, cooking and etiquette, hand-made accessories, wave and twist, basketball, tennis, paper magic, drawing and painting, fun aerobics, beach volleyball, badminton, football and new activities including Zumba fitness, fun on ice and carpentry for boys from until July 19, 9am-1pm for boys 5-9 years of age and girls 5-13 years of age.

Cost: Daily and weekly rates start at Dh150 per day.

Special discount for enrolling more than one family member or registering for five weeks or more.

Contact: Call 06-5067777 or visit http://www.slc.ae



Name: Funcity Summer Camp

Location: Century Mall (09 2283950)

Activities: Arts and crafts, martial arts, children’s theatre, interactive cooking, yoga, games, junior scientist, free play, kiddie aerobics, music and dance, from June 24, 10am-2pm for children 3-8 years old.

Cost: Dh799 weekly; pay for three weeks and get the fourth week free.

Transportation is available at select venues.

Contact: E-mail summerfun@funcity.ae or visit www.funcity.ae