Sending the kids off to camp this summer

BEIRUT: The long, hot summer has arrived, at least for Lebanese children, with most schools breaking up this week or next. For the kids, it’s the best time of the year, with summer school holidays equating to a long, uninterrupted period of freedom. However, for parents, especially those who both work full time, it can be a headache.

The Daily Star has picked some of the best and most interesting summer camps on offer this year, to distract your kids for at least a week or two.

El Rancho, Ghadras, Mount Lebanon For any aspiring cowboys or cowgirls, El Rancho which is “dedicated to having fun together, helping people grow in body, mind, and spirit,” will be the place to be this summer. Catering to kids from age 9 to 18, the summer camp, running from July 10-19 and Aug. 7-16, promises to be “100 percent green and 100 percent fun.”

With a focus on the environment, El Rancho’s summer camp teaches children and teens about the three Rs, “reduce, reuse and recycle.” But there’s plenty of focus on fun, too.

Kids can pick from two of six themes, which will provide the focus of their 10-day camp. Choose from “Wild Spirit” – climbing trees, racing through forests and hiking through waterfalls; “Horse Universe” – training, feeding, riding horses, and cleaning stables and creating a horse show; “Indian life” – building totem poles and “learning to live under the sun”; “I create a play” – writing scenes, directing, costumes and makeup; “Movie Making” – screenwriting and camera skills; and “Farmer’s Life” – collecting eggs, making cheese, feeding calves, caring for foals and learning how to grow plants.

In keeping with the southern spirit, there is also a rodeo, complete with archery and knife and horse shoe throwing, camp fires, and even cinema under moonlight. The camp is $850 for a 10-day stay, with a

10 percent discount for a sibling. For more information, contact Marion Schnorf, 70-832-020, Water Nation Sports Center, BeirutFor water babies, there will be only one place to spend the summer. Why spend any time on land when the sea is at its warmest? The Water Nation Sports Center in Beirut is this year launching their first summer program, which will cater to kids from the age of 7.

This non-residential camp offers kids courses in a range of water-based activities, from sailing to fishing trips, snorkeling and swimming. With one supervisor to every four children, groups are carefully separated by ability, age and skill.

Classes run for up to six days a week, from July until September, with a minimum course length of two weeks. The sailing option, for example, runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and at the end of the adventurous fortnight, your child will have gained a certificate of completion.

Children enrolling in the summer camp should have basic swimming abilities. When the water is rough, other activities will be arranged, including cycling and rollerblading. The camp is $550 for a typical two-week course, at three days a week. Call 01-379-770 or email for more information. Lebanese Adventure, ChoufAimed at increasing “self-esteem and resourcefulness,” this adventurous summer camp will be challenging for body and mind, but will undoubtedly leave your child with plenty of stories and great memories.

With eight days based in the lodge, and two days spent camping, the Lebanese Adventure camp offers a full range of outdoor activities, from hiking and rappelling to archery and zip lining.

While camping, children are taught back to basics lifestyle skills, including setting up camp fires (and fire fighting), orienteering, growing trees and shrubs, locating the stars with telescopes and learning “Indian survival” skills. This will see participants learning how to build a Native American-style teepee and how to apply camouflage techniques and also how to use all five senses in order to best observe their natural surroundings while in the forest.

If that all sounds a bit boisterous, creative minds can take comfort in the photography and handicraft workshops on offer during the camp.The camps run from July 16-25 and from July 30 to Aug. 8 and cost $800 for 10 days board. For reservations: please call Zeina 03-234-178 or Serge 03-214-989.Girls’ Geek Camp, KfardebianIn its second year, this girls only camp teaches vital technology skills so that young teens can become social-media savvy and know how to express themselves confidently and safely online.

After it proved so popular in its first outing last summer, Nasawiya – the Lebanese feminist group who run the camp through their Take Back the Tech program – put on a second last fall, and a third this summer. Open to girls from 15 to 18, the camp teaches skills from blogging, photography, video-making, social media, programming, and university majors related to technology.

Held this year at the Auberge Beity camping site in Kfardebian, the camp also features lots of sports and games, and teaches girls some information about gender and women’s rights. Thanks to sponsors, camp attendants can pay whatever they can afford from $10 to $200. Email or call 03-487-051 for more information. Dent de Lait, BeirutCatering for younger children, Dent de Lait’s summer camp, for children from 1 to 7 years old, lasts for the entire summer.

Promising eight weeks of fun, the camp takes on a different theme each week, teaching children new skills and enabling new experiences. In week one, “Amazing Animals” will feature a trip to a zoo or a farm, and teach children about endangered animals. Next comes arts and crafts week, when kids will visit an art exhibition and create their own tie-dye items.

Sports and games weeks follow, after which week five teaches scouting skills, from learning to tie various knots, to first aid basics. Discovery week comes next, followed by community service week, which will see kids carrying out fundraisers and having a trash-collecting day at the beach. The final week teaches “Back to Roots” skills, from traditional Lebanese cooking to pottery-making and dabkeh dancing. For more information call Mrs. Soha on 01-792-787 or visit Little Engineer, various locationsFor all budding engineers and mechanics, The Little Engineer (a deceptive name as the course actually has classes for kids from 4 to 18 years) will provide an educational and challenging summer.

Topics are as diverse as robotics, renewable energy, engineering and electro-mechanics, and courses range from one to five weeks.

With workshops on solar energy and wind power, this could be a great course for older teens looking to narrow down university course choices, and contemplating a career in renewable energy. Courses start at $200. For more information contact





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