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Friday, May 29, 2009

Camping it up

Article on summer camps for kids published in the Irish Examiner on May 26, and featured on the Tom McGurk Show on 4FM on Friday, May 29.

School’s out for summer, and now it’s time for some fun. To that end, there are a huge range of camps and schools running over the next few months that offer something new, challenging and exciting to just about every child and teenager who takes part.

For instance, professional sporting organisations like the GAA, FAI and IRFU are running summer camps all over the country that will give boys and girls a thorough grounding in the skills and rules of the chosen sport.

Also on the active end of the spectrum, there are several adventure centres nationwide that will give kids the chance to sail, dive, surf, kayak and abseil, as well as focus on tennis, golf and athletics.

In addition, there are also a raft of schools and courses to teach kids to cook and bake, as well as to develop and hone their gifts for acting, singing, and dancing, not to mention drama, film-making and IT. Listed below are a range of options located nationally and regionally that help your kids make the most of their summer break:


*The FAI is running their Summer Soccer Schools in some 290 venues nationwide. They are open to boys and girls aged 7-15 of all ability. A summer school session lasts five days, from 10.30am to 3pm, with a 20-30 minute lunch break. The schools are under the direction of the FAI Technical Director Packie Bonner and the programme is delivered by FAI qualified coaches. Costs range from e99 per child (for mainstream camp), e70 for goalkeeping camp and e50 for campai as Gaeilge.

See or call 1890 653 653 for advance booking (essential).

*For young Gaelic fans, the GAA run their VHI Cul Camps in a variety of venues in all 32 counties throughout the summer months. They’re open to boys and girls aged 7-13, and last for a week (Monday to Friday) at a time. Camps operate from 10am to 2.30pm, and are structured so that a different aspect of the game is worked on each day, ending with a “blitz” on the last day so each child will get an introduction to competitive games. Prices vary from e45-e80, and booking can be made on a county-by-county basis at

*2009 has been rugby’s year, and Leinster Rugby is holding summer camps in 21 locations throughout the province for boys and girls aged 6-12. Children will get to meet Leinster players, all while learning to develop basic rugby skills of passing, tackling, evasion and kicking. Each camp takes place over one week (Monday-Friday) between 9:30am and 1:30pm. Fees are €99 per child, with a family discount offer of €99 for the first child and €90 per sister/brother thereafter. See

*Not to be outdone, Munster Rugby is also holding summer camps for boys and girls aged 6 - 13. The camps run from 9.30-1.30 from Monday to Friday, and the cost is e99. Camps are held throughout July and August in locations in Cork, Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Tipperary, and Waterford. See

*Samba Soccer School hold footie camps throughout July and August for boys and girls between ages 5 and 16. Camp venues for 2009 are located in Cork, Dublin, Clare, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow. Costs e95 with special offers for family and group bookings. See or call 1890 Soccer/1890 762237

* Let’s Go! Multi-activity summer camps operate in 100 venues in towns nationwide during the months of July and August for children aged 5-13. The camps run from 9.30-3.30pm for five days, with two supervised breaks in between. Activities include bouncy castles, trampolines, scavenger hunts and musical games for the 5-6 year olds, and soccer, lacrosse, karting and crazy golf for the 7-13 year olds. Camps cost e90-e95 per child, and bookings can be made at or by calling 1890 538746 (1890 Letsgo).

*Horizon Ireland hold a number of summer camps around the country, offering a wide mix of activities for kids of all ages and abilities, ranging from acting and dance, to motor sports, water adventure and language learning. This summer, Horizon camps are located at Rockwell College in Co Tipperary, Westport Adventure Centre in Mayo, and Wilson’s School in Westmeath. See or call 098 35844

*Starcamp hold singing, dancing and drama classes for a week at a time through June and July in venues throughout 20 counties including Cork, Kerry and Dublin. Call 021-4287490 or see to check availability or book online.

*Whizz Kids run a number of IT camps in university campuses in Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway. Running through June, July and August, each camp runs from 9.30-3.30 and covers a mix of activities each day, including web design, movie-making, sports, online gaming and a host of hi-tech challenges in their ‘Spy Academy’. There are day camps for boys and girls aged 9-15 (costing e159 or e295 for siblings) and residential camps (priced at e350 full board) are for 13-17 year olds. See or call 061 339178


*Fota Wildlife Park will run six week-long summer camps for kids age 4-12 through July and August. Activities are themed along the lines of ecology, safari trails and sport days. Camps are 11am-4pm daily, and cost e95 per child. Call 021 481 2678 or 481 2736 or see

*Ballymaloe Cookery School will hold two one-day Kids in the Kitchen courses in August where little chefs can learn from the likes of legends such as Darina Allen in the country’s most famous cook school. Courses on August 4 and August 24 (both costing e205). Call 021 4646785 or see

*Thompsons Farm on the Fountainstown Road have Kids Cookery Camps running throughout July for ages 7-16. Sessions last for three hours a day for three days. Costs are e65-e80. See or call 086 254 25 97.

*The Gaiety School of Acting is offering a range of summer courses in Cork this year, mostly for teens aged 12-19. On July 18-19, there’s an intensive masterclass acting weekend for 14-19 year olds (costing e120), while wannabe performers (age 13 and over) can hone their skills and perfect their auditions with weekly studio classes through July and August (cost e180). There are also classes covering camera acting skills, and a Make-A-Play course for ages 5-9 and 10-12 year olds (July 6-10), costing e150. All classes are in the South Parish Community Centre. See or call 01 679 9277

*Niamh Barrett Computers is offering a series of tech-inspired summer courses for ages 5-6, 7-12 and for teenagers. Courses take place throughout June and July in Cork, Charleville, and Mallow, andlast for five days at a time. See or call 022 51318

*Clonakilty Park Leisure Centre hold Water Works Kids Camps throughout the summer. It’s suitable for kids aged 4-14, and each camp lasts five days, from 11am-3pm everyday. See or call 022 8834387

*Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre have a range of summer activity courses throughout June, July and August for different age groups between ages 6 and 14. Costs e190-e250. There are also sailing camps throughout the summer costing e270. See or call 021 477 2896


*Mark and Bernie Doe’s Just Cooking school in Killarney offer several four day cooking schools for kids aged 6-10, 11-14 and for teenagers. Classes take place in July and August and cost e40 (for 6-10 years) and e95. See or call 066 979 3660

*Star Outdoors Adventure Centre in Kenmare have summer camps lasting a week throughout July and August for 6-15 year olds. Daily camps run from 10am-4pm. Rates are e190 per week or e45 per day, including lunch. See or call 064 41222


*Imaginosity, the children’s museum, are offering half day summer camps for the first time this year. Throughout June, there will be camps based around science, arts and crafts, and learning and playing for ages 4-6 and 7-9 years. For more details and to book see or call 01 2176134.

*The National Gallery has a series of free summer art workshops for ages 4-10 years running every Sunday at 3pm throughout June, July and August (call 01 661 5133)

There are also a host of art classes in July, including the Children’s Art Club for ages 7-12 (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2.15-3.30pm, €28 per week), and Little Master’s Class for ages 4-6 years (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 11am-12pm, €20 per week). Tickets can be bought in advance from the Gallery Shop (or call 01 663 3518)

Teenagers are also catered for with a series of workshops inspired by Harry Clarke’s book illustrations, and a portfolio preparation course (see

*Dublin Zoo hold four weeks of Zoo Camp Adventures throughout July and August, aimed at kids age 6-12. Each camp lasts for one week, and run from 11am-3.30pm. Campers will have the chance to make new friends and explore the zoo while participating in games, crafts, behind the scenes tours, and animal encounters. Booking for camps starts on June 12 at 9am, and can be made through the Department of Education on 01 4748932. Costs are €110 for members, and €120 for non-members.

*The Irish Academy of Dramatic Arts have acting, singing and dancing classes running from July 13-24, catering for intermediate level (7-12 years) and senior (13-18 years). The camps are held every day for two weeks in the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire. The cost is e300 for two weeks. For more information call the IADA on 01 230 2691 or see

*The Ark Children’s Culural Centre in Temple Bar has a series of four day summer schools running throughout July and August, focusing on photography, animation and design, as part of its Earth Explorers Visual Arts Programme for the summer. Call 01 6707788 or see

*Kids in the Kitchen summer camps (for ages 8-12 years) will be held in Loreto Abbey, Dalkey from June 22 to July 31. The cost is €200 per week, or €360 for two weeks. Wannabe chefs can learn new recipes and valuable cooking skills as well as building an understanding of healthy eating.. See, or call 01-6678831.

*FoodActive summer camps combine cooking with exercise and nutrition, and offer after-camp care up until 5.15pm, will be run at the Teresian School in Donnybrook from June 22 to July 31. Booking is now open for this summer at, or call 086-8066111.

*The Gaiety School of Acting host a variety of summer workshops and courses this summer for 7-16-year-olds, such as Musical Theatre, Footloose Dance Workshops, and Make-a-Movie (in English and ├ís Gaeilge). Youth Theatre students who are interested in pursuing a career in acting can take the ‘Seriously Serious Masterclass’, designed to reflect two days in a professional acting environment. See or call 01 679 9277

*Artzone offer a series of drawing, animation and design camps for children and teens throughout the greater Dublin area in July and August. Camps last for a week at a time, 10am-2pm. Five day camps cost e120 (first child), e100 for second and e80 for the third child or more. Four day camps are e110 for the first child, e90 for the second and e75 for the third child or more. See or call 01 4990614/01 4063915


*The Golfing Union of Ireland is holding junior summer camps throughout July at Carton House in Maynooth, with coaching from PGA professional Louise D’Arcy. Fresh fruit and water will be given to each child every day and there will be a competition at the end of the week with equipment to be won. Dates for the camps are: July 6-10; July 13-17; July 20-24, with juniors (7-10) from 9.30am-12.30pm and 10 to 15-year-olds from 2-5pm each day. Cost is € 125 per child, and siblings will receive a discount. To register, call 01 5054040.


*Delphi Mountain Resort are holding five and seven day summer camps in July and August for kids age 8-17, with activities ranging from surfing and kayaking to archery, rock climbing, abseiling and orienteering. There will also be discos, talent shows and movie nights in the evenings. The five day camp is €429.00 per child, while the seven day camp is €499.00pp. Booking forms can be downloaded from, or call 095 42208.


*A variety of summer camp programmes are running at the Dunmore East Adventure Centre through July and August, for ages 5-17. Activities include a wide range of land and sea-based fun, and each week concludes with a watersports day followed by a presentation of t-shirts and certificates to all participants. For booking, see or call 051 383 783

*Oceanics Surf School in Tramore have one (e30), three (e75) and five day (e100) camps for different age groups between 8 and 17 years of age, and cater for all levels. Schools run through July and August. See or call 051 390944

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