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Happy Campers! Holiday Well Spent

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At the best summer camps learning is stirred into play. There’s no better place for children to have fun, while developing new skills and stepping out of their comfort zones.

REPORTING BY Suveera Sharma & Samantha Wong

If “holiday” was a person, he would surely be the most loved one on ear th. He would be fun, sometimes engaging and sometimes lazy, but always welcome. For adults and kids alike, a break from the regular monotony of life is something to look forward to. Holidays bring images of excited kids and slow-paced, lazy afternoons, of reunions and celebrations with loved ones, and of distant or near travel.

That said, many of us DB families choose not to travel out, preferring to stay in the comfort of our homes for at least some of the summer holiday. And as much as we love the chatter and liveliness of children in the house, it’s sometimes difficult to keep them engaged constructively. The summer break should not mean a complete end to the structured day… which is where holiday camps come in.


With all the different summer activities on offer across DB and Lantau, how do you decide which will benefit your child the most? First off, in choosing a summer camp for your children – with your children if they are old enough – making sure they are going to have lots of fun should be a first priority. And that at least should be easy enough to achieve. No matter which type of camp you choose, your kids will be given the opportunity to be busy and social. Hopefully too, away from the pressures and social hierarchies of school, they’ll be able to make new friends and, with the guidance of adult mentors, discover new things about themselves.

Generally speaking, then, it’s safe to say that summer camp is going to be a fun experience for children but this gets you no closer to deciding on a specific course for them. Looked at one way the decision is simple. Sign them up for an activity they already enjoy and give them the chance to focus on it, and get seriously good at it.

Game over, you might say, job done. But have you thought about alternatives? You might be tempted to go the other way… sign your kids up for a course in something new and unexpected, something that will expand their horizons. Let’s say your daughter is a homebody – constantly either hardwired to the computer or glued to the TV. Any camp you choose will encourage her to unplug and get social but one that’s based outdoors could be the way to go. Signing her up for a sports course would see her being physically active, spending time outdoors and connecting with nature in some way. It would also give her an opportunity to escape the virtual and interact with real people and play games, using more than just her thumbs.

To keep things interesting, you might also consider enrolling your kids in a classroom-based camp. You’ll have read about the “summer slide”, where grade points are lost because of lack of tuition over the holidays, and you’ll want to avoid it. There’s no reason to think that an educational camp will be boring – these specialised, teacher-led summer courses promise to make learning and problem-solving fun and interactive.


It is a well-known fact that children learn best when they are in a group, learning together. Group learning also gives them the oppor tunity to hone their social skills, which will have a lifelong impact on their relationships and personalities. Holiday camps provide a perfect environment for children to intermingle and learn.

At camp, children learn to work with each other and their adult mentors, outside of the classroom and family unit. In their time away from home, they are encouraged to take responsibility for everything from their belongings to their emotions. While building new friendships, they learn to navigate through group dynamics, manage conflict and accept guidance.

Summer camp can also teach kids how to empathise. Placed in a new environment with new people, they learn to value the kindnesses of others and they begin to give of themselves in return. In challenging situations, they learn to be sensitive and to support friends who are struggling.

Children learn that to succeed, they must work together as part of a team. Rather than thinking only of themselves, they begin to see themselves as part of a community, and with this comes a valuable sense of acceptance and belonging. Summer camps teach kids about team spirit and cooperation; they learn how to work with each other and deliver results, and they learn to play within the rules. With this in mind, it’s well worth considering the benefits of a mixed age-group camp, where the older kids are asked to take care of the younger ones and help them with complicated tasks. While this teaches the older children responsibility, the youngsters also benefit because they are encouraged to go beyond their abilities and push their limits a bit.


Learning new skills and stepping out of your comfor t zone always broadens your horizon and opens new avenues. It is a known fact that all top achievers are lifelong learners. To constantly look for new insights and ideas, and keep growing is the biggest and most impor tant life lesson that we can teach our kids. Exposing them to novelty, as we do at summer camp, and challenging them physically and mentally, will shape them to the best of their potential. By putting themselves out there, having new experiences and trying new things, kids begin to understand what it takes to succeed in life. They develop decision-making skills to get themselves through challenging situations, and they grow in confidence and flexibility.

By tackling an activity that pushes them outside their comfort zone, children come away with a stronger sense of personal pride and self-reliance. As they progress through a course, their confidence builds and they accomplish tasks that at first seemed impossible. All this builds strength of character, courage and determination. Children learn discipline, problem solving and perseverance, which are much needed skills in life.

The best summer camps challenge kids every day. They come home tired from all the physical and mental activity and ready for a full meal and bed. They wake up looking forward to the day ahead and to giving it their best shot. Summer camp provides a carefree environment where kids work on ideas and learn to be responsible for their actions; it gives children a sense of purpose, hope and direction.

The benefits of holiday camps are indeed many. Fortunately, we live in a community which has a reputation for being family friendly. There are innumerable options for kids to stay close to nature and be outdoors or stay indoors and perhaps try something different. No matter which camp you choose for your children, it is important to challenge them. If you push them to the outer boundaries of their abilities, you can experience the joy as you watch their faces light up when they succeed.

As John A. Shedd wrote back in 1928, “A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

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