But qualifications and specific skills aside, the gains from a summer camp can be greater still. Yes, your kids will burn energy, get fit, learn physical skills, and no doubt have fun, but they will also learn life skills and values. “There have been many studies in recent years that have looked at the correlation between being active and academic performance and the results are clear,” says Anouar. “Being active does improve academic performance. The social aspect is also important for children – sports can have a huge benefit with teamwork, communication and confidence. That confidence will help children in other areas of their lives. Parents will often comment that their child has become much more sociable since he or she began football coaching classes.”
A study of summer camps undertaken in the US in 2005 backs this up. American academic Dr Stephen Fine found that a camp offers a solution to many of the gaps in the current education system. “It teaches values such as self-esteem, teamwork and caring, areas where everyone, not just the A-grade student and the athlete, can thrive and enjoy.”
For kids, and parents, not sure what sport they’ll enjoy, a multi-sports camp is the best bet as it offers a changing diet of sports, challenges and games, giving kids the opportunity to explore their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and try new things.
“Our programmes are not based around single sports,” says Russ Wilson Junior of Junior Life Fitness, which runs a multi-skills summer camp in Dubai. “Instead, we focus on skills and games, which develop teamwork, leadership, confidence, coordination, speed and agility, so kids can take these improved qualities into whichever sport they choose to pursue.”
If your child is trying some five different activities a day (the average most UAE summer camps offer) they’re bound to find something they enjoy and it may spark interest in a sport for life, not just for summer. In fact, research* suggests that the more physical activity spaces and activities available within a camp for kids to try, the more active and interested they’ll be and, ultimately, the more likely they are to continue with one. These multi-sports camps can, therefore, provide kids with the kind of ‘takeaway’ that health professionals approve of – a lasting passion for exercise. According to research conducted by the American Camping Association, 65 per cent of children who learn new activities at camp continue engaging in these activities when they return home.
MPAC Sports Summer Camp offers traditional, mainly American sports, but throws in b-boy dance classes, wrestling and cardio classes and a class on how, what and when to eat and the benefits of staying active. At Haddins Summer Camp in Abu Dhabi, kids can try everything from bowling to boxing, while Ace Sports Academy Summer Camp in