Kids summer camp ideas for the school holidays

With school holidays on the horizon, Arlene Harris takes a timely look at some of the many summer camps on offer

WITH secondary schools closing at the end of the month and primary schools just four weeks later, many parents are suddenly beginning to panic when they realise they have no contingency plans for the long months ahead.

If we had guaranteed sunshine, we could easily get by with play dates and blow-up swimming pools, but if the impending summer is anything like the last few years, we will all need to have a few other ideas up our sleeves. Summer camps have become a big thing over the past few years with every activity catered for. So it doesn’t matter if your youngsters are sports enthusiasts or budding computer geniuses, there will be an activity somewhere in the province to suit them.


Lots of little girls love ponies but plenty of boys have an interest in all things equine and at Tulligmore Equestrian Centre in Ballinhassig, Co Cork, there is a course to suit all budding riders this summer.

Activities include Saddle Club progressive badges and AIRE progressive certificates, two hours of riding daily, pony games, showjumping, trekking, dressage and an end-of-week gymkhana.

And as well as pony-related activities, there will also be team games, treasure hunts, archery, art and crafts daily with a qualified art teacher and guest speakers on equine management for senior riders.

The senior camp (for both advanced and novice riders) is suitable for children aged 12 and over and runs from Jul 5-12. The intermediate camp is for children aged 9+ and starts on Jul 8 and the junior camp is aimed at children over 6 and begins on Jul 15.

With indoor and outdoor arenas, a playground, go karts, an art room and separate lunch room, there will be plenty to keep your youngsters busy.

Children should bring a packed lunch with sun-cream and a rain jacket. Camps run from 9.30am to 2pm for juniors and 9.30am to 4pm for intermediate and seniors.

For more information visit or contact Norma on 086-8557744


Wild animals hold a fascination for most children so what better way to get close up and personal to some of the world’s most exciting animals than enrolling in a summer camp at Fota Wildlife Park ? All activities are focused on nature awareness and conservation and the aim of the camp is to engender a respect for the natural world in children of all ages by using a play approach to learning.

The camp runs from 11am to 4pm daily and children should bring a packed lunch with drinks, suitable outdoor clothing, sun cream and rain gear.

Suitable for children from 5-12 years, the week long camp costs €95 per child (with a 10% discount for three or more children attending together) and runs on Jul 8, Jul 15 and Aug 12.

For more information visit or call 021-4812678


Stretch-n-grow is a fun exercise programme designed especially for children aged between 3 and 7. The aim of this Ennis-based camp is to teach children that exercise is fun and to encourage good healthy habits through exercise and food which will last a lifetime.

The activities include a 45-minute Stretch-n-Grow class, obstacle courses, relay races, arts and crafts, healthy eating discussions and games, outdoor play, dressing up day, treasure hunts and a host of old-fashioned children’s games. Starting at 9.30am and finishing at 1pm, the programme costs €60 per child and €110 for two siblings and runs from Jul 1-5 and Aug 12-16.

For more information contact Pirge Murray on 086 3519201 or for other venues visit


Every summer the world goes crazy for tennis and while few of us have access to courts on a regular basis, our children can learn the basics with Parks Tennis Camps which are located all over the country.

The two week camp offers one-hour daily sessions which will teach youngsters the basics or offer those with a little more knowledge of the game, the opportunity to fine-tune their skills.

What to bring: Tennis rackets are provided on the court but personal ones can also be used. Sports gear, tennis shoes and rain wear are essential.

The camps are suitable for children from 5 to 17 years and times vary according to clubs.

To find out about the venue nearest to you visit


Cork Constitution Rugby is offering a summer camp for boys and girls aged between 6 and 13. Promoting exercise and fun, the programme will appeal to anyone with an interest in the game and all participants will receive a backpack, shorts, socks and a camp t-shirt.

The camp runs from Jul 1-5 from 9.30am to 1.30pm; and costs €100, and €90 for siblings.

Children should take a healthy packed lunch with plenty of water and football boots — kit will be provided upon registration.

For more information visit


Watching surfers ride the waves can be mesmerising and most children would love to be able to participate. Kingdom Waves Surf School at Inch and Banna beaches in Kerry offers summer camps throughout the school holidays catering for children of 8 years and older.

Covering both beach safety and surfing, the camp promises to be fast, fun and very wet. Children should bring towels, swimming trunks (to be worn to the camp under their clothes) and a bottle of water for after the lessons which run daily from 10am to12pm.

Each week-long course costs €95 and the school is approved by the Irish Surfing Association.

For more information call 087-7447958 or visit


For some, Irish childhood wouldn’t be complete without GAA activities and for those children who want extra time on the pitch, Cúl Camps offer week-long sessions all over the country with a mixture of games and activities.

From hurling and camogie to football, the emphasis is focused on having fun while honing skills and developing a deeper love and understanding of our national games. The week-long camps will culminate in a blitz on the last day which allows children to put what they have learnt into action.

Suitable for boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 13, the camps run from 10am to 2pm daily in venues in every county in Ireland.

The week-long camp costs €55 and includes a sports kit and bag. Discounts are available for siblings and anyone enrolling for a second week.

What to bring: Cúl campers should bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink, hurley and helmet, playing gear (tracksuit, shorts, runners and or boots), rain jackets and change of gear, sunscreen, hat and towel.

For more information visit


The waterside activity programme at Dunmore East Adventure Centre in Co Waterford is suitable for children between 5 and 17 years. Participants will enjoy a range of activities including windsurfing, kayaking, water trampoline (kids can jump 20ft into the water), sailing, abseiling, power boat trips and rock climbing for the older children and pedal boats, aqua olympics, orienteering and arts and crafts for 5-7 year olds.

Campers should bring a packed lunch with drinks, spare footwear and swimming trunks. All other equipment is provided on site. This camp costs from €210 and there are family and group discounts.

For more information visit or call 051 383 783


Located across the road from the Aquadome, the centre and nature zone lies on 25 acres of natural habitat. Children (4-13 year-olds) can attend the Eco Explorers and Activity summer camp for one week, in both July and August. Using the Centre as a living laboratory, participants will learn about wetlands, forests, wildlife and bodies of water.

Contact 066 7126700 or email for a booking form and brochure, or download one from


Not every child enjoys letting off steam on the soccer pitch or tennis court, so for those who prefer something a little less traditional, here are a few alternatives:


These camps offer Lego robotics, electronics and fun science for children aged 7-15 years. Situated in five locations throughout Cork City and County, there are two options: adventure and science, for ages 8-15 years; and future techie, for ages 7-10 years. ‘Adventure and science’ includes Lego, science, zorbing, high ropes, canoeing and archery, depending on the camp location. Children should bring a packed lunch and drink. The camps run for four days, on various dates from June 18, and cost 89 or 125 per child. Details and online booking are available on


Most children love building with Lego and the ‘Learn-It’ camps are an opportunity for youngsters aged six to 10 and older the upwards chance to fine-tune their engineering skills with a variety of different classes throughout the summer, all across the country.

There are three different age groups: Junior engineers for 6-7-year-olds Machines and mechanisms for 8+ Lego mindstorms for 10+

All levels offer age-appropriate experience in building mechanisms, in structural strength, and in design. Older children will progress to more complex mechanisms and learn how to make observations, to measure and to record. The children aged over 10 will combine Lego building with software and the construction of robots. Camps start at 10am, and finish at 2pm, each day.

Children will work in teams of 2-3, on a variety of projects throughout the week. Following a curriculum devised by ‘Learn It’, they will start off with simple projects, on day one, and work towards developing these skills to build more complex and larger projects. Children should bring their own lunch and refreshments, but it is requested that no foods containing nuts are allowed, as some children have nut allergies. The price of these camps ranges from 100 to 135 per week.

For more information, visit


With computers and technology playing a bigger role in our everyday lives, Whizzkids has a range of programmes that open up the world of multimedia to boys and girls aged 8+. Located at various venues around the country, including Cork and Limerick, these summer camps give children access to up-to-date computer labs, beautiful campuses, and facilities normally only available to third-level students.

Designed for children of all abilities, there are half-day, full-day, and residential camps for everyone aged between 8 and 17 years. What to bring: Children should bring headphones, and a packed lunch with drinks. All other equipment will be provided. Half-day camps run from 9.30am until 1pm and cost 80. Full-day camps run from 9.30am to 3.30pm and cost 149. Six-night residential camps cost 425, including full board with private room.

For more information, visit or call 061-339178


Designed for both fun and education, Kinsale Pottery and Art School run summer camps in July and August. Suitable for children aged between 5 and 12, activities range from pottery and tie-die to theatre building and paper marbling. Each camp runs for five consecutive days and comprises two sessions per day, from 9.30am to 12pm and 1pm to 3.30pm, or full-day camps from 9.30am until 3.30pm. Half-day camps cost 100 and full days cost 180. Sibling discounts are available, and children on the full-day camp should bring a packed lunch.

For more information, visit


Starcamp summer camps are located in venues across Ireland and run for a week in each location — starting from 9.30am and finishing at 2.30pm. Incorporating singing, hip-hop dance, acting, fun, games, self-esteem and confidence building in a non-competitive, fun-filled and safe environment, the camps are suitable for both boys and girls aged between 4 and 13.

No experience is required and often it is the shy child who finds her inner diva, while hitting the stage for the first time. What to bring: Children should bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink. They should wear comfortable clothing, such as leggings or tracksuit, and soft shoes or runners. Starcamp T-shirts are provided. The cost is 90 for one child, 150 for two siblings, or 220 for three siblings.

For more information and a chance to win a free place, visit or call 021-4377900


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