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The Jewish Chronicle - - SUMMER SCHEMES -

ARE YOU con­sid­er­ing camp for your chil­dren this sum­mer? Most peo­ple are aware of their lo­cal day camps and Jewish sleep­away camps in the UK. The Is­rael Ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter GCSE is also hugely pop­u­lar. How­ever, as the Amer­i­cans and Euro­peans are al­ready aware, there are masses of in­cred­i­ble and ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties around the world to en­rich your chil­dren’s sum­mer.

Among the many choices for the younger child, age eight to 14, are gen­eral and spe­cial­ist camps, the lat­ter con­cen­trat­ing on sports such as ten­nis, golf, bas­ket­ball, ski­ing, horse­back rid­ing, foot­ball, scuba div­ing, sail­ing, gym­nas­tics and skat­ing, for ex­am­ple. Th­ese camps cater for all abil­i­ties. There are also pro­grammes cen­tred on mu­sic, theatre, dance, art and magic.

Other pro­grammes fo­cus on com­mu­nity ser­vice such as build­ing homes, work­ing on In­dian reser­va­tions, arche­o­log­i­cal digs, or cross­cul­tural projects. Al­ter­na­tively, you could send young­sters on a course where they can brush up their lan­guage skills or pick up a new lan­guage from scratch.

There has also been an in­crease in camps for chil­dren in­ter­ested in the en­vi­ron­ment and for those with spe­cial needs. Al­ler­gies and other spe­cial di­etary needs can be catered for. Fit­ness and weight loss, ADD, dyslexia, deaf and re­me­dial pro­grammes are on of­fer.

Take ad­van­tage of the weak Cana­dian and US dol­lar. The tra­di­tional idea of hav­ing to send a child to camp for the whole sum­mer has been re­viewed by many of the Amer­i­can camps. Now camps are flexible and are will­ing to take chil­dren for one- to six-week pe­ri­ods, which fit in with the Bri­tish school sum­mer hol­i­day.

For th­ese long-haul trips, your chil­dren would be es­corted to and from the near­est air­port and then to the cam­pus. There are camps cov­er­ing the Jewish re­li­gious spec­trum, from Ortho­dox through to kosher-style and many pro­vide kosher food on re­quest.

An un­tapped area of op­por­tu­nity is the Teenage Sum­mer Ex­pe­ri­ence. Young­sters need not wait un­til their gap year to par­tic­i­pate in travel, cul­ture and in­tern­ships. Th­ese teen ex­pe­ri­ences are pro­fes­sion­ally or­gan­ised, highly su­per­vised and full of mo­ti­vated teach­ers and chil­dren.

The Amer­i­cans and Euro­peans start boost­ing their CVs in prepa­ra­tion for univer­sity and fu­ture em­ploy­ment. They use the sum­mer­time con­truc­tively, to do in­tern­ships or com­mu­nity ser­vice pro­grammes, as well as fur­ther study or learn­ing a new lan­guage. Such cour­ses are a real boost in our com­pet­i­tive world.

Con­sider let­ting your teenagers take sum­mer cour­ses at one of Amer­ica’s top univer­si­ties. Th­ese need not in­volve hours of es­say-writ­ing or sit­ting in li­braries. They could learn pho­tog­ra­phy, shoot a video, di­rect a play, ac­quire ad­vanced com­puter skills; gain an in­sight into fash­ion brand­ing, at­tend and per­form in mu­sic fes­ti­vals or take part in model United Na­tions work­shops.

Al­ter­na­tively they can ex­plore the United States, Canada, Europe, South or Cen­tral Amer­ica, or even go fur­ther afield to Africa and Aus­trala­sia dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days. How about scuba div­ing and study­ing marine bi­ol­ogy in the Caribbean, or surf­ing and sail­ing?

A pos­i­tive and pro­duc­tive ex­pe­ri­ence does not last only a few weeks, it can last a life­time. The op­por­tu­nity to broaden your chil­drens’ hori­zons, dis­cover new in­ter­ests and make new friends can be life-en­rich­ing, lead­ing your chil­dren to higher self-es­teem and equip­ping them to tackle the next school year and the fu­ture. Fiona Jakobi and Clau­dia Al­lan run Camp Ex­perts, a free ser­vice giv­ing com­pre­hen­sive un­bi­ased ad­vice and help­ing you plan your child’s sum­mer. They aim to match the camp to the child, tak­ing into ac­count per­son­al­ity, back­ground and in­ter­ests. Camp Ex­perts was es­tab­lished 30 years ago by New Yorker Joanne Pal­trowitz and has rep­re­sen­ta­tives across the world. For more de­tails, see www.camp­ex­perts. com or call 07795 491 350

Bright-eyed campers will emerge ready to face new chal­lenges

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