5 steps to a stree free Summer

26 Apr

“Mum, what are we doing in the summer?” It’s not even half term and your children are asking you about their school holidays already! You’re working, juggling sports days and school fetes and trying to book a family holiday and you really haven’t had time to think about July and August.

Don’t panic! Take a deep breath and follow these five steps to a stress-free summer:

1) Ask your school for their holiday dates EARLY. This means you can start planning your holidays early and get the best deals on holidays and flights.

2) Check out summer childcare options EARLY. Often kids’ clubs offer discounts for early booking so take advantage of it.

3) Speak to your friends and family, compare notes and diaries. If you need to help each other out, find out when your friends are going to be around; if they’re not, look at flexible childcare options where you can switch days around, even if you book early.

4) Feed their passion and don’t feel guilty about working during the school holidays. If your children are happy developing their love for tennis, football, karate, cookery, dance, music or adventure to name a few, then book them on to a week-long progressive course and you can rest assured that they are enjoying learning new skills. It’s educational and will enhance any skills they are currently acquiring through their term-time activities. If they’d prefer to experience a range of activities a multi-activity camp which offers variety might be more suitable. Other factors to consider include value for money, hours, staff qualifications/experience and distance from work or home.

5) Plan play dates with your children’s friends. Looking after children for 6+ weeks can be daunting and exhausting. Most parents find it less stressful to team up with other families for day trips or reciprocal play dates. The children are usually happier with friends around and nag Mum or Dad less! Some camps will even link your child’s booking to a friend’s so they are in the same group.

How to treat your 4 year old – a few tricks of the trade

18 Oct

The half term holiday is just around the corner and you want to give your 4 year old a treat. With the weather rather unpredictable, Super Camps’ Early Years specialist, Katie Moran, is on hand with some great suggestions to keep the bounciest members of your family busy, whether they’re at home or on camp.

Katie’s Top Three Activities for 4-5 year olds

  • Scavenger Hunt and Bonfire Picture – Find lots of different items outside to make a bonfire picture (see instructions below).
  • Autumn Tree Hand Prints – A group activity where we get together to make an Autumn Tree using everyone’s handprints as leaves, looking at the different colours of Autumn.
  • Halloween Party and Parachute Games – On camp, we will be playing our favourite parachute games but changing them to fit to the theme of Halloween. This can be played at home with a large sheet, with all the children sat around the outside of the sheet holding onto the edge. Allocate each child a character name (“Ghost”, “Witch” or “Pumpkin”), everyone raises the sheet up high so it balloons up, you call out a character (eg. “Ghost”) and then those children who’ve been given that name have to let go, scurry underneath the sheet and sit in a spot vacated by another “ghost” before the sheet comes back down and covers them. If you shout “Haunted House” everyone has to move!

Super Camps’ ‘Autumnal Make & Do’

For Katie’s ‘Bonfire Picture’ you need:

Small twigs, black paper, pva glue, tissue paper (yellow/red/orange), chalk.

  • To start the activity, ask the children to gather small twigs from outside. Whilst you are doing this, discuss bonfires and when we have them etc.
  • When you have collected the twigs, on a piece of black paper, create the base of the bonfire and stick them down using pva glue (this works better than a glue stick!).
  • Then using yellow/red/orange tissue paper, tear and stick the paper to create the flames of the bonfire.
  • Add some fireworks at the top of your picture using coloured chalk.

Super Camps is an Early Years provider registered with OFSTED and is required to complement the children’s learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Our dedicated programme for the 4 to 5 year olds offers children experiences in Outdoor Learning, Investigation, Sports, Arts and Crafts and is designed to extend children’s learning. A bit of a neat trick when all we’re doing is providing your 4 year old with a half term treat!

http://www.supercamps.co.uk

Walk to school, Run to camp!

12 Oct

Your child will no doubt be coming home from school this week with information on International Walk to School Month. This campaign by Living Streets aims to encourage all children who are able to walk to school. It’s a great way of getting regular exercise and catching up with news with your children.

But how do you keep up the momentum in the holidays?

It’s easy for us to rely on the school routine and activity clubs to offer our children a regular regime of fitness, but it’s down to us to encourage and inspire in the holidays.

October half term is the perfect opportunity to go and kick the leaves on an Autumnal walk in the woods, pull on your wellies and run down the beach with a kite or go on a natural treasure hunt and collect acorns, conkers and pine cones for a “squirrel buffet”. All very good if you don’t work or it’s a glorious dry day.

Don’t panic! Super Camps is running at 14 locations across the UK and offers both the solution to holiday childcare and keeping your children entertained and active.

We make sure that even when it’s wet and wild outside, there are big spaces and halls available for team games and sports; some of our venues have indoor swimming pools and trampolines. On dry days, we’ll be outside for scheduled sports activities and, where the location allows, children can have a go at archery and motor quads.

Check out the Super Camps website for the full list of October Half Term camps and the activities on offer. Your children may not want to walk to school in October but they’ll be running to camp in the holidays!

http://www.supercamps.co.uk

Team Spirit

9 Oct

Team Spirit.

Team Spirit

9 Oct

Well done Team GB! You made us proud as we cheered on athletes at both the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. And it wasn’t just the fastest and strongest athletes who succeeded in the competitions.

Do you recall being amazed at the accuracy of the seated volleyball team? Or the skill shown by participants in Boccia? It really highlighted that everyone can play sports. The athletes were still fiercely competitive, but the range of skills on display was much more varied than the usual measurements of speed and strength.

The medals table reinforced the fact that they were part of a team. All the athletes’ endeavours added to a total point system and they wanted to do well for each other, as well as for themselves. ‘Team spirit’ is a great motivator too.

At Super Camps, all of our children take part in a wide range of activities from sports to arts and crafts, and they do this in ‘crews’, grouped by age. So how does Super Camps get the best out of children through teamwork and competition?

“We offer a variety of team sports throughout our programme and encourage different styles of teamwork within these”, explains Alistair Mackay, Super Camps Operations Manager. “It’s not just through sport that we focus on team spirit. For example, the art activity ‘Mega Mural’ is very much a team effort, with everyone working towards one shared goal.

“Competition is mainly introduced within a team context, so children can gain support through team mates when responding to group challenges. The focus is not always the winning and losing, but promoting and fostering healthy competition is good for self-esteem and for skills later in life”.

Alistair also explains how the ‘Colour Point’ system works: “At the start of each week or day, all the children on camp are assigned to a Colour Point Team (red, orange, green or blue). Throughout the day, instructors will award Colour Points to children who they think have contributed positively to camp. Points are awarded for team spirit, good sportsmanship, helpfulness, achievement and many other factors.” At the end of each day, the points are tallied up and added to that team’s total points.

 

“On Fridays, all the crews come together to join their Colour Point Team for the last two sessions of the day in the Friday Challenge.  Together they’ll complete a set of fun and friendly team games; to make it even more exciting, Colour Points are worth twice as much as normal.  Our 4 and 5 year olds will take part in their very own Friday Fun Challenge which will be specially designed to suit their age.”

 

So it’s not all about being the best to get the best out of your time at Super Camps. We’d like to think Lord Coe was right about the London 2012 Games “inspiring a generation”. Showing team spirit, courage and dedication are Olympic values that we are proud to recognize and reward at Super Camps.

 

Help Your Child to Achieve Their “Personal Best”

12 Jul

Competition can be a great motivator. It can inspire us to achieve things we never thought possible. In this Olympic year especially, we’ll see records broken and extraordinary performances as athletes compete in one of the greatest competitions in the world.

But in recent times, many schools have downplayed the idea of competition in favour of the idea that “everyone’s a winner” rather than highlighting the achievements of a few talented individuals and risk de-motivating the rest.

As a parent, it’s hard to know what to think about this philosophy. We would all like our children to excel at something, and be proud of them and their achievements. After all, however hard schools try to be even-handed and give equal praise all round, the children know who won the race and who it is they want beat next time.

Children do find it hard if they put in their best effort and they don’t win. This lesson in life is hard and we don’t want them to feel that they’ve failed. Dealing with disappointment is a skill we all have to learn as things don’t always turn out the way we expected.

So how should we deal with this the tricky issue of competition? It turns out that the difference between “healthy” and “unhealthy” competition is a question of focus.

In unhealthy competition, the focus is on winning and beating others in order to be the best. The pressure to win becomes more important than anything else and can lead to poor sportsmanship.

In healthy competition, the focus is on the effort put in, doing your best and learning new skills. It promotes teamwork by encouraging participation towards a shared goal and the fun of playing together.

Feeling a valued member of a team is a positive outcome, regardless of the final score. It’s also exciting to just be part of the atmosphere of an event and be able to get drawn into the build-up, start, finish and prize-giving associated with team games.

The sporting measure of “personal best” is a fantastic way of introducing children to healthy competition. It’s not to the detriment of others, but is an incentive to push oneself and do better next time. It means practicing a skill over and over again, training with others and picking up tips from teachers or coaches you admire and respect. And that means teamwork.

At Super Camps, all of our children take part in a wide range of activities from sports to arts and crafts, and they do this in ‘crews’, grouped by age. So how does Super Camps get the best out of children through teamwork and competition?

“We offer a variety of team sports throughout our programme and encourage teamwork within these”, explains Alistair Mackay, Super Camps Senior Product and Regional Manager. “When doing art activities, we often encourage the children to participate as a team – the activity ‘Mega Mural’ is designed for a team to work together.”

“Competition is introduced to the children when supporting each other in a team and through challenges. Not to always focus on the winning and losing but teaching and promoting a bit of competitiveness in sports is good for self-esteem and for skills later in life”.

Alistair also explains how the ‘Colour Point’ system works: “At the start of each week or day, all the children on camp are assigned to a Colour Point Team (red, orange, green or blue). Throughout the day, instructors will award Colour Points to children who they think have contributed positively to camp. Points are awarded for team spirit, good sportsmanship, helpfulness, achievement and many other factors.” At the end of each day, the points are tallied up and added to that team’s total points.

On Fridays, to end the week with a bang, all the crews come together to join their Colour Point Team for the last two sessions of the day in the Friday Challenge.  Together they’ll complete a set of fun and friendly team games; to make it even more exciting, Colour Points are worth twice as much as normal.  Our 4 and 5 year olds will take part in their very own Friday Fun Challenge which will be specially designed to suit their age.”

The feedback from parents and children show that Fridays are very popular at Super Camps! The children love seeing how well they’ve done and enjoy stretching themselves during those last two sessions of the week to try and earn even more points for their team.

“We also have Super Star of the Day”, Alistair explains. “This is an award given to one child from each of the age groups (or crews) where their instructor has noticed positive contributions to camp; again this includes achievement but also takes into account other factors such as team spirit, good sportsmanship, helpfulness and thoughtfulness.” This means children who only attend for individual days can come away with a certificate for doing their best on camp.

But don’t just take it from us, as one very enthusiastic 8 year old said at the Cranford House Super Camp last summer “Mum, I got the ‘Super Star of the Day’! Can I come back next week – and DEFINITELY on Friday – because it’s way past cool?!”

Nature Deficit Disorder? Not on RAW Adventure Camps!

9 Jul

There has been a lot of discussion in the press recently regarding ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, the phrase coined by the National Trust to explain how our children are living a life more removed from nature.  Even though we all grew up with outside play as a part of our daily lives, we are limiting the opportunities for our children to explore their surroundings without adult supervision.  Worries about road safety, ‘stranger danger’ and the risk of accidents are over-riding our ‘sensible heads’ which are telling us that it must be good for our children to experience the great outdoors, climb trees, camp in the garden and make mud pies. If it was good enough for us, it’s good enough for our children!

 

These days, those hazy, crazy memories of long summer holidays seem far-removed from the stressful reality of diary juggling the work/family holiday/childcare problem.

 

Unfortunately, not all of us can take six weeks holiday during the summer and often we don’t have Grandma around the corner to call on to cover the childcare.  We would love the children to play in the countryside, build dens and dam streams over their long summer break but how are they going to be able to do this if the babysitter plays on her mobile phone and our offspring have access to the computer or games console all day?

 

Fortunately, at RAW Adventure Camps (a branch of Super Camps, England’s largest provider of holiday childcare) we understand this problem and have put in place an action-packed five-day progressive course where you can go off to work guilt-free, knowing that your children are socialising with others (in the real world – not in the virtual one!) in a safe, caring environment with lots of physical and mental challenges.

 

Our ‘back to basics’ RAW Adventure Camps tick all the boxes in encouraging your children to explore the outdoors, build shelters and even get face-to-face with nature with our Animal Encounters. Enabling your child to bring out their inner-explorer, whilst at the same time being supervised by CRB checked, experienced and enthusiastic activity leaders, is reassuring in this modern world of worries. Nature Deficit Disorder? Not on RAW Adventure Camps!