As an expatriate child, there is no greater joy than spending the summer holidays with grandparents back in your hometown. Second in line would be a vacation in another, preferably cooler part of the world with your immediate family. A large section of kids end up staying back in Dubai too, what with work commitments of the family; and for them it is summer camps to the rescue.
What makes it easy is the abundance of camps in Dubai. Be it educational, related to the arts or glorified babysitting, there are options galore. More often than not though, one should be prepared to come across the same names and descriptions across various lists, leaving you more confused than decided. The popular ones are popular year after year and for good reason too. However, there are a host of others worthy of a try despite not making it to these lists. Here is my attempt at listing some of the lesser-known yet commendable summer camps in the city.
Al Jalila Summer Studios: Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children’s vision is a welcoming, imaginative, joyful learning environment for Emirati children and their families. Some of the regular courses at the centre include Crafts and Painting, Fashion and the Performing Arts. This year, their annual summer camp is designed under the theme ‘We are looking for you’. Summer Studios cater to children from 4 to 16 years of age and include a range of activities from Theatre, Painting, Pottery and Zumba to story time, circle time, craft time and talks on nutrition and basic life skills. The camp is spread across two weeks from 9-20 July; timings are from 10 am-2 pm each week. The cost is AED 1,500 for non-members (25% discount for members). In 2016, the camp saw a healthy participation of boys and girls representing different nationalities.
The Study Room: KHDA approved, The Study Room is an after-school education centre in Dubai Sports City, offering outstanding child skills development training. Their Hello Summer 2017 camp is suited to children aged 4-12, and is a mix of world recognized Math, Reading and Writing together with Creative Arts, Indoor and Outdoor activities. They pride themselves for some very solid reasons 1) each day of camp is tailor-made by their MD, Kim Gerber, to suit all students’ individual needs 2) maximum of 7 children to 1 teacher 3) their teachers are all first language English speakers and have a number of years experience in teaching. Camp timings are from Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm; cost is AED 300 per day, AED 1400 per week.
Mathanasium Summer Camps: If math is a source of grief in your household, Mathanasium Summer Camps are something you should be considering seriously. Whether you are looking to strengthen your child’s math generally, work on mastering a certain topic, enhance his/her skills or prepare for the upcoming SAT, they offer many solutions. An initial assessment is a must, as they have separate programs designed as per the ability of your child (4 years-17 years and SAT candidates). A huge plus is the fact that their centres are spread across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
Hamilton Summer Swimming: If there is one physical activity that makes sense in this sweltering heat, it is swimming. Hamilton Aquatics Summer Swimming program offers new and competitive children a fun and safe environment to progress with their swimming during summers. On offer is a range of skills from Learn to Swim (LTS) lessons, Rookie Lifeguards, Strokes and Skills Clinics and the more-technical Squads. Classes are held 5 days a week in convenient and multiple locations in Dubai (and Doha) and are reasonably priced at AED 350/week.
Parkour DXB: Kids love to play! And the summer camp at Parkour DXB in Al Serkal Avenue teaches children the fundamentals of movement in a fun and inspiring way. Spread over 9 weeks from June 25 to July 8, they offer 2 different camps for 2 different age groups: Super Hero & Ninja Camp for 6-9 year olds & Parkour Master Camp for 10-14 year olds. Each week of camp is structured with a curriculum and different techniques for the day such as jumping, climbing, thrust exercises, problem solving and mindfulness. Officially one of the ‘coolest’ places to hangout, fees for the camp is AED 1100/week or 250/day.
Biz World UAE’s Kids Entrepreneurship Workshop: Another fun and educational activity for kids this summer is a 5-day workshop designed to bring out the entrepreneur and leader in them. The camp expects them to start their own business; from planning to pitching to clients and launching their product before parents for them to see everything that they have worked on. The workshop will take place in the Talents HQ/Kids HQ building on 1) 2-6 July & 2) 20-24 August and is ideal for 9-15 years old. Timings are from 9 am to 2 pm and cost is AED 1800 for 5 days.
Dubai International Art Centre: Located close to Mercato Mall in Jumeirah, DIAC is a non-profit organization and a premier centre for arts education in Dubai. Besides holding regular classes for kids and adults on any and everything from sculpture and painting to calligraphy, they run a Summer Camp for kids each year to help develop their art skills. Held from July 2-26 this year, the camp will be a mix of activities like drawing and painting, cooking, glass painting, clay modeling, felt toys, decoupage, jewellery making and much more. Suitable for children from ages 4-12, the camp will run from Sunday to Wednesday each week, and will have a morning and afternoon slot. Pay AED 150 per day or AED 550 for 4 sessions in the same week.
Culinary Boutique: Culinary Boutique is this lovely café/restaurant on Jumeirah Beach Road that doubles up as a summer camp venue in collaboration with other event companies. The Big MOO events will be hosting their workshop from July 2-6 where kids will get to cook their snacks and meals with none other than Chef Julius! Suitable for children 5-13 years of age, the camp is priced at AED 1200/week. A second event is brought to you by Craft Land which will provide plenty of crocheting materials, creativity & crafting skills for your little ones. Running for a period of 2 weeks starting July 2nd, this camp is ideal for 6-15 year olds and will cost AED 1950 per child.
DIY: Still not made up your mind? Fret not; as there are several things you could do at home with your kids. For starters, how about revising English and Math lessons that were covered in school last year? Most schools give way workbooks at the end of the term and summer holidays are a perfect time to go through them together, while giving your child a head start for the upcoming year.
For the arty mother-child duo amongst us, there’s Pinterest to inspire you to don that apron! From simple DIY art projects for young ones to complicated craft tutorials for teenagers, there is enough adventure happening on this medium.
And finally, there’s the Dubai Summer Reading Challenge brought to you by Bookish. Running from June 15-August 15, it encourages kids to read 12 books during this 2-month period and write reviews for a chance to win cool prizes. Their book reviews will be published on the Bookish website or blog within a day or 2. Open to all 5-12 year olds in the UAE, this is a FREE challenge. What’s more; you need not even be a member of Bookish to participate.
HELLO Holidays! Am I happy to see you or what?