The long summer break from school that is common to most countries creates both problems and opportunities for parents who want to ensure their children are able to make the best use of their time.
Nowadays, it is commonplace for both parents in a family to have full time jobs, and thus looking after their children during school holidays isn’t always easy. More people now also relocate abroad to enhance their careers and experience life in different countries, which means they are no longer able to rely on extended family members for help with childcare.
When faced with logistical problems such as these, summer camps are a welcome option. However, it is important to properly consider how your children and family may benefit from particular camps before signing up to one as their prices, options, activities and quality vary immensely.
Many families hope to use the summer holiday to optimise and improve aspects of their children’s lives or education. Camps now provide a variety of different programmes to suit children’s interests, whether these be sporting, artistic, technical or linguistic, so that they may grow and learn during their holiday whilst also having fun.
As camp providers, we have to be aware of new and emerging social and educational possibilities for young people in order to design appropriate programmes for them. Summer camps, such as the Haut-Lac Activity Camps, will be running a range of new courses this summer based on the results of a parent/student interest survey. Camps, such as the Haut-Lac Performing Arts Camp, Film Camp, Robotics Camp and Programming Camp, can play a hugely important role in children’s development by offering them real and positive life experiences that could also help them with their school studies.
One of the main advantages of adding an educational component, such as language learning or computer programming, to a camp is that it may be taught without the restrictions of a particular curriculum or exam preparation. We found out many years ago that providing students with the same instruction they receive at school during their summer break often just caused them to switch off. We thus had to rethink our approach.
Camps should in fact instil enthusiasm and passion in students by enabling them to develop their skills with other like-minded youngsters outside of a restrictive school curriculum. Camp students should thus be taken out of their comfort zones and put in situations that encourage them to interact with others, practicing, experimenting and sharing their new skills. It is through the continuous practice and use of new skills and methods that students grow in confidence and are able to perform better, as we have seen at Haut-Lac Activity Camps over the last 15 years.
Camps are a great way to encourage students to adopt a more mature outlook on life, as they are obliged to take care of their own equipment, get themselves ready for classes or activities, calculate how best to use their pocket money and much more. Furthermore, the interaction with other children from other countries and cultures, often in different languages, helps them learn and understand more about the wider world.
Not only is this interaction multilingual and multicultural, but it is also face-to-face and in real time rather than via a computer screen! Real life communication skills are vital for our children’s well-being but something that the next generation are doing less and less as our use of technology grows. Camps thus need to provide activities that will, one the one hand, pull children away from their phones, iPads and computers, and on the other hand, teach them the necessary technological skills to succeed in our rapidly-evolving digital world.
As any well-run summer school or camp organiser knows, its staff also play an extremely important role in the overall camp experience. The actions and attitude of camp staff have an enormous impact on the children in their care, who often see them as positive role models even after returning home. The latter is what camps like Haut-Lac search for in candidates and continue to stress to their staff during their training programmes.
Camp staff should ideally be qualified, energetic, enthusiastic and dedicated to working with young people. They should be able to provide the children in their care with a fun, vibrant and safe atmosphere in which to meet new people and experience new challenges.
Haut-Lac has been running camps for children and teenagers since 1987 and truly believes that a camp provides children with unique opportunities for growth in many areas. Camps should provide a secure and supervised environment in which children may take their first independent steps away from family and school, discover more about the world they live in, and learn to look after themselves whilst connecting with others.
Find out more about Haut-Lac Camps at www.haut-lac-camp.ch