Please tell me I'm not the only mum who's waited until now to book summer camps for the kids? I thought about it in April and again in May (a bit more seriously) but in fact, it took me until this week to sit down with a calendar and work out what we're going to do over the summer.
As a work at home mum, I am fortunate that I don't have to find a camp for every week or for whole days but I do like to mix it up a bit for the kids so that they have a few weeks pre-booked and a couple of quieter ones where they find their own entertainment at home.
The good news is that locally, there are quite a few camps with places still available so for this month's blog, I'm sharing 10 great summer activities for kids in and around the Belfast area:
1. LX Gymnastics
Alex Skelton set up this gym just a few years ago and it's now absolutely buzzing with waiting lists for most of the classes during term time. But the summer scheme is booking on a first come, first served basis so of you're fast, you can snap up a place.
The classes run from 10am-3pm on a weekly basis and there's the bonus of early drop off at 9am and late collection at 5pm for working parents. It's £85 per week and runs throughout the summer (apart from the 12th holidays). Download a form on the link above.
This is a brand new scheme running in Friend's School in Lisburn during 2 weeks in August (10th-14th & 17th-21st) and it promises to be a really full-on week of activity for kids from nursery age though to Year 8/9. The ethos of HiT FiT is to encourage children to learn and improve at tennis and golf, while also taking part in team sport activities. The scheme uses qualified professional coaches and small coach:student ratios. It runs for a full school day also - from 9am-3pm. Full details on the link and places still available at time of writing - with discounts for siblings.
3. Paddy Wallace Rugby Summer Scheme
My son did this scheme at Easter and declared it the best rugby camp ever - and he's not easy to please! It runs for 3 days of the week in 5 locations and the best bit is that they are the only scheme I can find that's run something on the 12th week. A godsend for those of us staying locally over that fortnight. You can attend for all 3 days or just on single days too, so it's good and flexible. The kids will all get to meet Paddy himself and the hoody you get at the end is, I quote, 'awesome'.
4. Startrack at Mary Peters
This is a handy one for kids who finish up on the 30th June as the first session runs from the 1st - 4th July (two other dates Tue 21st – Fri 24th July & Tue 4th – Fri 7th August). It's aimed at 8 to 15 year olds - to give them real athletics experiences and help to develop skills. Jessica Ennis started her athletics career at a Startrack scheme when she was 10! Each day runs from 10.30-2.30.
These drama based fun weeks are spread across the province and are aimed at children aged between 4 & 7. Even the most timid of kids will feel at home in these sessions from 10am-1pm. Every day, there's a mixture of drama, crafts and then indoor or outdoor games with the week culminating in a show for the parents. Discounts available for multiple week bookings.
6. Jumping Clay
This is a huge hit with kids and as you can just sign up to single days, we've used it on previous holidays as a way to fill in occasional days perhaps when the weather's not so good. But you can also sign up to a full week in any of the locations province-wide. There are separate Facebook pages for each of the local Jumping Clay franchisees - Lisburn, Belfast, Magerafelt/Portstewart, Enniskillen, Warrenpoint, North Down
7. TW Sports
If football is your thing, then Tim Wareing has a fantastic summer scheme that I can personally recommend. He caters for kids from 5-13 primarily but there are also several TW Toddler Soccer schemes for kids from age 2. A great way to introduce fun footy skills to your future Ronaldo and Tim's coaching relationship with Braga FC in Portugal ensures that young talent can be identified and nurtured beyond age 13.
8. Council Run Schemes
Local leisure centres have well run, well priced summer camps so don't forget to check out your local council website for more information. There's a good list on this website detailing the links to all the different councils. This year, we will be using the Lough Moss scheme (Carryduff). It runs from the 20th July until the 14th August and costs £8 a day or £30 a week (with sibling discounts). There's also a great basketball camp that runs the week of the 17th August. Book promptly as these Leisure Centre schemes fill up really fast!
9. Playball NI
Another good one for working parents, Playball NI run their Methodist College camp again this summer on two weeks - 27th – 31st July & 3rd- 7th August. With Jumping Clay, Kite making, Yoga and swimming, the kids are sure to have a fun-filled day. The camp runs from 10am-3pm every day with a wraparound service (at an extra cost). There's also a camp for younger children that runs just in the morning. Full details on the link.
10. GAA Camps
Once again, the Kellogg's sponsored Cul Camps are running across the province with a great search service on this link so you can find the club nearest to you. Priced at about £40 per week with sibling discounts, these camps run from 10am-2.30pm and all attendees get a backpack and jersey. No prior knowledge of GAA sports is required as all levels of experience are catered for.
I hope that if you're looking to fill a week or two over the next 8 weeks (aarrgghh!), that I've helped to give you some ideas. Of course, with lots of these camps being outdoors, I can highly recommend picking up a Target Dry Mac in a Sac - essential for those softer days :)
Until next time,