You might think it premature to start hunting for summer camps before spring arrives; we beg to differ.

First, summer camps aren’t just for summer – that is to say, the same organisations that operate summer camps also operate Easter camps, the time when our kids are out of school with possibly no one to care for them at home.

Unless we take time from work.

Plenty of people plan their family holidays around schools’ spring semester break; maybe they register online for family camp instead of travelling abroad or heading to their favourite spot on the coast.

For those of us who are office-bound (or bound to whichever setting you work in) while our kids are scheduled off from school, we face the same dilemma that parents all over the world do: who will do for our kids?

If you are not lucky to have family close by or a network of friends who could jump in as needed, a camp – day camp, residence camp or a themed camp could be just the ticket.

Your Superprof is not the only one to think so.

Sports camps, adventure camps, arts and crafts camps and science camps; camps for kids and camps for teens, camps for boys and girls (they are housed separately in residence camps, of course)…

All around the UK, all manner of camps have been springing up. They cater to virtually every interest from the archery range to environmental education and from basketball camp to the theatre arts.

If you have never thought of treating your children – or your entire family to the camp experience, it’s high time you try. That is why we present some of the best camps around the country.

Surely one will be near you?

Franchise Camps

These are camps with several locations throughout the UK. They are not necessarily franchised; that is just an apt way to describe them.

Going further: they may not even have the same camp programs; many camps, be they day camps or extended care, plan their activities based on the natural resources available to them at that location.

For instance, throughout Sussex, you can find camps that include water sports. Those would be much harder to find in a land-locked city such as Birmingham or Leeds.

On the other hand, due to their close proximity to the Pennines, you would be far more likely to find rock climbing camps or a ropes course in Birmingham and Manchester than, say, in London.

Of course, some London gyms have fine climbing and ropes facilities; it’s just that they are more likely to be indoors – and we’re focusing on outdoor adventures!

Your child can learn new skills like rafting and swimming during summer camp
Camp Summer programs often involve water sports such as canoeing or rafting Image by Jaime Reimer from Pixabay

Learn and Experience has taken the idea of proliferation seriously.

Not only do they have camps in Yorkshire, but they’ve also gone global with camps in Spain and several more planned world-wide. Stay tuned for the one opening soon in British Columbia!

They are no doubt inspired by the international visitors they host; guests that come from all over Europe and as far away as Australia.

Still, no matter who shows up at their facilities, you can be sure they will be treated to lots of fun activities, enriching experiences and lessons in life skills taught by caring camp counselors.

Ultimate Activity Camps

If you live in the south of England, no further north than Birmingham, you may look into Ultimate Activity.

Rather cleverly, this organisation has partnered with schools to provide their campers secure, well-stocked facilities, and each of these camps’ activities revolves around what is available onsite.

You should know that all of their activities and camps are age-appropriate; they would not send a 5-year-old to the archery range, nor would a teen be tasked with taking care of younger campers.

That is unless they were a counselor-in-training. Still, it wouldn’t be your teenager, for whom you’ve paid a registration fee to participate in the activities – not orchestrate them.

Ultimate has four main programmes you and your child can choose from:

  • Ultimate Activity: suitable for 4- to 14-year-olds; features arts and crafts, sports and outdoor activities
  • Ultimate Survival: OFSTED-approved survival scenarios
  • Ultimate Sports (ages 7 to 14): train in hockey, netball, cricket or athletics (running and such)
  • Ultimate International: an action-packed day camp for speakers of other languages to learn and play alongside native English speakers

Not all programmes are available in all locations; you would have to check their website to see what is available, when and where it will be available. You can download the parent handbook from there, too.

In our companion article, Summer Camps for Kids, we feature more of such franchise camps, along with their contact information.

With the proper training, your child may be the future of game design
STEM camps for children are an excellent way to kindle a fascination with robotics Image by skeeze from Pixabay

STEM Camps

Much is being made of STEM these days; that would be science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

To wit, reports often show that there is a dearth of students – especially female students, embracing these subjects. Yet, people knowledgeable in these subjects are greatly sought after; indeed, job market hawks predict that STEM positions will be grossly understaffed by the time our kids graduate from university.

What if your child(ren) have no interest in maths but love playing video games?

With the proper introduction, your kids could be future STEM graduates. Such an introduction could be had through any of the tech camps located throughout the UK and Firetech is an excellent case in point.

Firetech now has 25 locations throughout the country, from resort town such as Bristol to as far north as Edinburgh, each hosting after school and weekend workshops as well as day camps and summer residential camps.

Other outfits throughout the UK also have residential camps

Firetech offers a range of learning pathways, from coding to robotics. If your child finds s/he has an aptitude for it, s/he might even prefer electronic camps!

Whether for a weekend workshop or summer day camps, Firetech maintains an 8:1 camper/guide ratio to ensure that each of their participants receives the ultimate in guidance and attention.

It goes without saying that that same level of care goes into their residence camps…

Mad Science Holiday Camps

Of all the camps we’ve featured so far – indeed throughout this series on camping, only Mad Science is truly international.

Founded in Canada in 1985, born of a passion for neat effects – it all started with a helium-neon laser, this enterprise now has a presence in more than 20 countries. Aren’t we so glad that the UK is one of their homes!

In a sense, you can call Mad Science an adventure camp because kids will behold wonders of the natural and created world – not by sitting around while the show goes on before them but by participating.

Getting hands-on with science is one of the best ways to get your kids interested in the subject. Mad Science has perfected their delivery of oft-perceived stodgy science subjects in such a way that kids attending those camps are perpetually thrilled.

Kids as young a four are welcome; if yours are older than 11, you would have to enrol them in a different science camp (sorry!).

No need to worry your little ones will be stuck indoors all day; there is plenty of outdoor activity to be done at Mad Science camps, too. They will get to run and play and chase giant soap bubbles until they burst – the bubbles, not your children.

Remote camps like this one are great for young explorers!
Camps may be remote, such as this one, where you child might stay from Monday-Friday Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

Finding a Summer Camp Near You

Historically, British children have almost always enjoyed enrichment activities during their summer holiday. If they didn't have to help out in the fields or at home, they were sent to swimming lessons and riding lessons, piano lessons and even sewing lessons.

Those were individual enterprises wherein each student (or group of students) reported to the instructor for private lessons, not the social occasions that camping, at its heart, is.

The camp concept is an idea we co-opted from the US. For generations, American parents have been sending their kids off to camps; sometimes for a whole month.

So popular is this activity that there exists an American Camp Association specifically to promote and perpetuate the practice of summer camp.

It may take a few more generations for us Brits to enjoy sleeping rough and lugging tents around but the idea of summer camp has definitely caught on with us, too.

From family-owned, independently run camps to international concerns with multiple outlets, the UK holiday camp industry trends steadily upwards.

Why not see for yourself what it is all about?

Why not contact one of the camps mentioned in this article or, if you’d rather see what camps are available locally, ask your child’s school for a recommendation?

Whether you’re seriously considering registering for a summer day camp for your child or you want to know more about camp activities before you commit, your first step is finding camps.

Hopefully, we’ve gotten you a step closer…

Now find out all you need to know about summer camp UK.

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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.