It’s that time of year again when, although battling gloomy, chilly or downright cold weather, our thoughts turn to cavorting in the great outdoors.

That is especially true for those of us with school-aged children.

When you consider that two major holiday periods are on their way – Easter and Summer, most of us are annually faced with the dilemma of what to do with our kids while they’re out of school and we’re still at work.

Summer camps, an idea borrowed from our friends across the pond, provide the ideal solution.

Once it made its way to our shores, the concept took off like a rocket; today, kid camps of all types dot our landscape: STEM and other academic camps, outdoors camps, sports camps, day camps and even camps for the performing arts!

Which do you see your kids being the happiest at? Is it the same camp that you’d like for them to attend?

We know that summer is still a few months away (and Easter is right around the corner) but, if you hope for your child(ren) to have a spot at the camp of his/your choice, it would be best to register early.

Besides, some camps offer discounts for early registration…

Let’s take a look around the UK so that we can find the best camps of any type, shall we?

Academic Camps

Perhaps the last thing your resident student envisions doing during the summer holiday is pursuing academic studies. On the other hand, judging by the glowing reviews of kids attending these camps, maybe kids want to diagram sentences all summer…

That sentence does a disservice to the fine institutions that provide that type of learning.

Take the Royal Institution Summer Schools programme, for example. They host a multitude of STEM workshops in engineering, cryptography, genetics and more.

Your child won’t spend the week sitting in lecture halls listening to experts, s/he will get hands-on: building robots and making bath bombs, dabbling in forensic science and even learning to extract DNA.

Hint: that’s not the same as taking a cheek swab…

Camps for youth are sometimes quite primitive
While some camps for teens can be quite primitive, many are not Image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay

If your child happens to already be a Royal Institution member, you will benefit from 15% off of their summer school booking. Not such a bad deal!

If you happen to be closer to Scotland than London (where the Royal Institution is), you might consider the Ardmay House International Summer School.

This wonderful facility is located well off the beaten path in Arrochar, in the heart of Loch Lomond National Park.

According to Gail, the camp’s representative, their two most popular programmes are Adventure English – a combination of English learning and activities, and Ardmay Adventure, an action-packed option.

In fact, so popular are these choices that many parents opt for their children (ages 8 to 14) to attend first one, and then the other sessions.

Should you worry that your child would miss city life, Adrmay House includes field trips into nearby towns as well as long hauls to Edinburgh and the slightly closer Glasgow.

Their students love the Glasgow Science Centre!

One advantage of this camp that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere is the international aspect. Your child would have the chance to meet, learn and play with kids from other countries. What a learning experience!

At one time or another, to varying degrees of fervency, every child dreams of running away to join the circus.

Whether your child has or has not expressed that wish, wouldn’t it be great if s/he could learn circus tricks like walking a tightrope, being a part of a trapeze act, juggling and plate-spinning?

Naturally, it’s not ‘all circus, all the time’ at Uppingham Summer School.

Instead of your children performing a high-wire act during the end-of-week performance (yes, that is standard!), you might entice them with musical theatre or learning how to work behind the scenes, painting stage sets and arranging props.

Unlike other summer camps, Uppingham has no age restrictions; obviously, infants wouldn’t be able to participate but, if your child is at least four years old, s/he would be welcome.

You can find registration information for any of these facilities via the information below.

Academic Summer Camps

Camp NameLocationPhone NumberEmail
The Royal Institution Summer CampLondon0207 409
Ardmay House International Summer School(North of) Glasgow, Scotland0130 170
Uppingham Summer SchoolUppingham0157 282
Academic SummerLondon, Cambridge, Bristol0203 959
Fire TechVarious locations around the UK0203 950
Mad ScienceVarious locations around the UK0203 031
Exscitec SummerVarious locations around the UK0173 026

Your turn to chime in: what’s your take on summer camps in the UK?

Adventure camps teach school children survival skills
Outdoor adventure camps teach, among other things, environmental education Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

Outdoors Adventure Camps

It’s every parent’s dream to get their kids off of their electronic devices and out of doors, right?

If your child is more connected to your WIFI than to you and cannot bear to have his tea without something bleeping and blooping in his hand, one way to break his (or her) habit is to send them to camp.

Between having every minute of the day planned for them and none of the activities involving a gaming chair, you stand a good chance of getting your 6-13-year-olds moving again!

Wickedly Wonderful has a most appealing name… which was not borrowed from Deborah Blake’s book of that title.

The activities take place in West Sussex, on the south coast of England. There, for one week or more, your child may ride horses, sail or play games on the beach. If, after all that, they get homesick, surely a chocolate banana roasted over the fire will cure their ills.

Because everything is out of doors, there is no internet and no WIFI… nothing but fun activities that don’t involve electronic devices!

Which camp should you choose if you’re not sure what your child would like to do during the summer? For such situations, Kingswood Camps has you covered.

Their five camps are located in:

  • Staffordshire, Wolverhampton (for ages 8-13) Summer and Easter camps
  • Grosvenor Hall, Kent (for ages 8-17) Summer and Easter camps
  • West Runton, Norfolk (for ages 8-15) Summer and Easter camps
  • Colomendy, North Wales (for ages 8-17) Summer and Easter camps
  • Isle of Wight (for ages 8-17) Note: no Easter Camp available at this location

As you might have guessed by this breakdown, each location presents its own unique challenges and camp activities. For instance, the Isle of Wight adventure camp features water activities but also, because of its unique topography, climbing, abseiling and ropes courses as well as ziplining.

Naturally, they do so in a safe environment; camp counselors would never allow one of their explorers to get hurt!

Such outdoor activities are classic summer camp fare but, if you were more hopeful of getting your kids interested in a sport they could continue when they come back home, you probably need another type of camp.

Would you like to find summer day camps near you?

The camp director will ensure your child is properly fed
Among other aspects of sports camp, nutrition and healthy eating features prominently Image by David Nisley from Pixabay

Sports and Fitness Camps

It seems like every time we turn around, we’re hearing that our country’s children are in crisis.

Even if we stop turning around, children in the UK are facing unprecedented weight gain; the experts say that it has to do with food intake – including the quality of the food they’re taking in, as well as the fact that they’re not moving enough.

Nobody is calling any child fat, here, but there is a grain of truth to kids these days being more sedentary and consuming more calories. It’s time we parents take things in hand, isn’t it?

Fortunately, most camp programs have devised days packed with activity and healthy eating is a part of the adventure.

Fit for Sport Activity Camp is just such a place. They welcome campers as young as four for team games, water sports and other outdoor adventures such as rock climbing.

Should your child not feel up to those activities, s/he could try their hand throwing pottery or pick up another craft s/he might enjoy.

The focus at Fit for Sport is keeping their campers engaged and challenging them to do more – never in a cruel or unsafe way.

Fit for Sport facilities are liberally sprinkled throughout the Greater London area but also throughout southern England and as far north as Grantham. If you’re in Plymouth, there is a Fit for Sports there, too!

Activate Camps takes a novel approach to their enterprise; rather than buying a bunch of equipment to set up their own camps, they make use of facilities not in use during the summer to help kids learn a sport they’re interested or practise the sport they love.

For instance, if your progeny is mad for tumbling and gymnastics, s/he could go to either Stroud or Berkhamstead. Conversely, were tennis their sport of choice, they could find a court in Sherborne, Croxley Green or Oundle.

Activate has camps for those who are not particularly interested in any sport, too. Their multi-activity camp features arts and crafts, games, outdoor exploration and other activities. They do feature some sports but they are not the master plan.

If your kids are somewhat younger, say between four and eight years old, the place for them is Energy Kidz.

This dynamic group has a day camp arrangement with several schools but where they really shine is their holiday camps. Adept at blending adventure, learning and fun, these camps for children provide a self-affirming, confidence-building environment that kids love.

Whether your camper is mad for adventure or keen to learn a new sport, you can rest assured that their camp experience will enrich them: they’ll make new friends, learn new skills and quite possibly enjoy the best summer they’ve ever had.

Of course, our country has far more summer camp programs than we can detail here. However, in this table, we’ve listed other camps’ contact information, just to offer a wider variety of summer programs to choose from.

Also, consider these residential summer camps

Summer Camps UK

Camp NameLocationEmail AddressPhone Number
Fit for SportVarious locations throughout 0208 742 4990
Activate CampsVarious locations across the 227 4385
Energy KidzVarious locations across the 577 1533
XPlore Activity CampsVarious locations throughout the UKinfo@xploreactivitycamps0144 974 2700
Ultimate Activity CampsVarious locations around the 0330 111 7077
XUKAbberley Hall School, WorchestershireWeb address:
0208 922 9739

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.