The summer holidays juggernaut is coming down the track and the risk of the parental wheels falling off during those six or eight weeks is high. That’s potentially 896 hours to fill (excluding sleep). *Gulp. What’s the answer to this perennial problem? Summer camp – and there’s a reason why US families splash out a whopping $3.5bn a year to ensure their little darlings are kept off screens and enjoying outdoor adventures.
Lockdown PTSD, sick of the screen obsession or simply need to tick off fun childcare from your to-do list. The UK is ready for American-style adventures and a new Summer Camp has launched at Reddam House in Berkshire, offering high quality day and residential stays for young campers, aged 8-17. But scratch beneath the surface and there’s a lot to be gained from a solo summer adventure…
Long before the C word ever passed our lips, parents were wrestling with screen time and the impact it has on our kids’ social skills. Indecipherable mutterings in between gaming commentary a conversation does not make. What camp delivers is the opportunity to shake off that digital zombie vibe and get them out interacting with the world at large. Camp is designed for kids to make new friends outside of their day to day circle. More importantly they get to practice their skills in building relationships – navigating conflict, communication, empathy and compassion. Working together on projects, playing games, getting all Bear Grylls with their outdoor adventures and, if they’re sleeping over, those shared experiences help create new bonds and opportunities to talk about the highs (and lows) of their day. It’s worth noting that they’ll have lots to talk to YOU about. Reducing the mumbling and eye rolls to a bare minimum. Happy days.
SHHH! IT’S EDUCATIONAL
Heard of Summer Holiday Learning Loss? It’s a real, scientific thing. When you’re not in a classroom keeping your brain humming, you naturally lose some of your academic acumen – meaning everyone, including the teachers, has to play catch in September. At Reddam’s Summer Camp the mornings activities are, *whisper it* a bit more educational. Campers can brush up on languages, learn robotics, and private maths tuition is also available. It’s nothing like being in classroom. The kids immerse themselves in the subjects, work together and get a greater depth of knowledge. So when they go back to school, they’ll be ahead of the academic game.
LET OFF STEAM
Not the running around kind, although there’s plenty of that too. But the opportunity to get hands on with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths). It’s the hottest area of learning for schools as we tool-up our kids for future jobs. Using fun project-based activities, the kids dive into areas like renewable energy, code and build robotics, build a glider model and more. Through collaboration, creativity, curiosity and a lot of techy know how they absorb loads of hands on experience.
But let’s not forget the ‘a’ for arts. It’s less about being the next Picasso and more about being inspired by culture and the chance to get on stage and have a go at treading the boards – good for jazz handers and the culturally curious. In fact, the Performing Arts activities are great for building confidence and a great alternative for kids who are not that sporty. Who needs the West End when you can tread the boards at Reddam’s swish 350-seat theatre? Day trips also tick the arts and culture box too, with trips to Windsor, London and Thorpe Park. Roller coasters can be educational – physics, engineering… Who are we kidding? It’s all about the rush and you rejoice that you don’t have to lose you lunch.
Put the Persil Bio on hold. Outdoor adventures are proven to develop a child’s self-confidence, independence and self esteem. And bit of dirt is good for them, right? Of course it is. Reddam’s Summer Camp makes the most of its 125 acres and the school’s Combined Cadet Force facilities. Campers have the choice to go wild on the assault courses, climb trees, build fires, camp out, paintballing, mountain biking, raft building. Basically, they get the full Bear Grylls experience (minus drinking their own wee) learning survival skills. To say kids love it is an understatement. It’s a risky business and mums not around to say no. There are trained staff on hand, so you can stop breathing into that paper bag. Studies have shown that kids actually become more aware of their limits, boundaries and challenge themselves more when given the opportunity to do riskier activities. They’re also more likely to try new things generally.
Spending time outdoors doesn’t have to involve a Pen Knife and a box of matches. Any decent Summer Camp includes a range of sports sessions and Reddam is no different. The difference here, is that your child can choose what they want to do. If they want to play ball sport under the sun, then fill your football boots. But if they’re getting FOMO at the happy campers going nuts on the assault course, simply choose that activity on another day.
ALL TOO MUCH?
Summer Camp is designed to be fun and busy. The worry is ‘are they doing too much?’. It’s worth asking if the kids get down time and breaks. The team at Reddam House keep a close eye on all the campers and ensure the planned activities will be enjoyed by everyone. If they’re all shattered, they might do something more chilled. Mobile phone are allowed and calls home can be made in the evenings.
CUT THE APRON STRINGS
Freeeeeeedom! It’s hard to imagine, but when kids don’t have their parents hovering, they step up. At home you’ll be sick of nagging about making beds, their floordrobe and their inability to do anything without being asked at least 10 times. Not so when they are at camp. Personal growth and independence are one of the key takeaways. Expectations are set and they conform. What’s the secret? You’re not there.
Our kids are so used to us doing most of the thinking and doing for them. Ownership and responsibility are learned quickly – they have to do things for themselves. At Reddam House Summer Camp you can also check in with their day via the app ClassDojo, giving parents a window into their world (and reassurance). So book them into camp, stat. Enjoy a bit time to yourself. Gin with the girls? Cheeky date? Just do it. They’ll come back happy, healthy and hopefully more helpful human beings. The guys at Reddam House also do the laundry so, unlike the time my son went to a residential camp, you won’t need to burn the contents of their bag when they come home.
GOOD TO KNOW
Reddam House Summer Camp runs from 17-30 July.It’s super flexible. Kids can attend as day or residential campers for one week or two.Suitable for ages 8-17125 acres of stunning grounds and facilities.30hrs of languages or STEAM taught by top notch teachers30hrs of sport, advernture or performing arts One day out Excursion per week. Residential campers also get a weekend ‘Big Day Out’ and evening activities.Meals provided.Superb boarding.
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