Need guidance on holiday camps? Get the lowdown on camps in Madrid and Spain 2014.
With the Easter and Summer holidays just around the corner, many parents are looking at activities in English for their children during the vacations.
With many questions swirling around parents heads I thought I’d share my discoveries of programs available in and around Madrid. It is important to bear in mind which camp is most suitable for each child. Do you need a flexible timetable? Is the group size an important issue for you? Are you concerned about the level of English required? What range of activities are best? Are discounts offered for siblings?
School is out for ten days over Easter and many parents aren’t able to take time off work to coincide with their children’s mini-vacations. The obvious solution for many parents is to find a fun-filled urban camp to send their children to whilst they are at work… and if the camp promises activities in English too, then more the better.
Fundaland in Montecarmelo opened last year with one clear vision in mind: if children play games that change the world, then the world will change. Run by the not-for-profit foundation Carmen Pardo-Valcarce it is the first playschool that mixes able-bodied children with those of different abilities in the Madrid area. On the 14th, 15th, 16th and 21st of April they are offering an Easter camp from 9:30am-5pm, meals included, for the price of 185 EUR per child (ages 3-13 years). The camp will include a whole host of indoor and outdoor activities, as well as two classes in English per day. Fundaland are also running a Summer Camp in English.
La Huerta de Carlos in Pozuelo runs an incredibly exciting Easter program for all children that like to get their hands dirty and enjoy the great outdoors.
On the 11th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 21st of April the city farm Mi Pequeña Granja opens its doors for youngsters aged 3-10 from 10am-5pm to join them at their allotment (the “huerta”) at a cost of 52 EUR/day or 250 EUR for five days. The activities alternate between English (with a native-speaking camp counselor) and Spanish.
Language adventures abroad
Jennifer Doran from English Escape has been running Irish and America Escape programs for 8 years with great success. Irish Escape is aimed at children aged 7 to 14 years old whereas America Escape is for kids aged 12+. Both programs are currently taking reservations and given their popularity I suggest any parent interested get their skates on to make sure their child doesn’t miss out – note that there is an 80 EUR discount for siblings.
The joy of Irish Escape is that the children live together in their own household under the constant care of their native English-speaking supervisors. The kids go to day camp to practice their English with Irish students at amazing facilities which include tennis courts, baseball fields, etc. In the evening they return to their household where they learn to become much more responsible whilst at the same time continue improving their English.
America Escape caters for slightly older children who are willing to embrace a new culture, to build new relationships and to grow in confidence both in English and in themselves as independent people. The program counts on a network of hand-picked responsible American families who open their doors to their Spanish guests. The children receive ten hours of English classes a week plus go on day trips organized by English Escape’s teacher who travels with them from Madrid and is available 24/7 for the students.
If you are hoping to send your children to the United States this summer, it is also worth looking at the 20 day program run by GNP in Laguna Bay, California for teenagers aged 14+. The kids are taught English in intensive classes and the rest of the time is spent on the beach learning water sports. The experience is not to be missed!
Closer to home, the exchange programs run by Inglaterra al Alcance come highly recommended. The owner of this company, Noemi Rodriguez, is a Spaniard who settled in the UK several years ago. She has built up an excellent, trustworthy and reasonably-priced alternative for parents looking to bring England within the reach of their children. She offers a wide range of services including summer schools and student exchange programs.
Finally, I can’t finish this section without mentioning the wonderful Hogwarts School of English summer camp option in my home town of Newcastle upon Tyne! Run by Madrid-based GNP, Spanish children are invited to spend a fortnight in the North East of England where they will visit many tourist sites including Alnwick Castle (where Harry Potter was filmed) and the beautiful city of Durham. Furthermore they will have 30 hours of language classes and will have plenty of opportunities to speak English in this part of the UK where few Spanish-speakers are lucky enough to spend their summer holidays.
Out of town camps – Spain
Sherry Camps at Puerto Sherry, Cadiz offer a wide variety of sports-based activities in their multilingual summer camps where the predominant language is English and the predominant feature is fun. Depending on the age of the child, students from all over the world can take part in sailing and padel-tennis classes on a daily basis from 10-17h. An intensive sailing course is also available to kids aged 15-17 years in the eponymous Sherry 247 Camp.
Closer to home Canadian Camp is located in Valle el Tietar, on the M501 road only 81 km from Madrid. For over 25 years a dedicated team of outdoor activities professionals have offered a residential summer camp where children from ages 6 upwards spend almost every waking moment outdoors – even the language classes are taught in the open air! They strike a good balance between water sports, team sports and individual achievements. From Monday to Friday the children also receive 3 hours of English or Spanish classes a day, in groups of approximately 12 students per class and divided by age and language ability.
Daytime camps – Madrid
In Madrid we are incredibly lucky to be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding good quality, interesting and exciting summer activities for our children. Although most schools offer day camps for their alumni during the vacations, many parents like myself prefer to find alternatives to break from the routine school run.
Brigid McAleer’s “made to measure” summer options are very attractive to parents who want the flexibility of having a teacher at home or in the urbanización who comes prepared with a whole range of activities aimed at improving English through fun. Within the Verano en Casa there is a “four skills” option aimed at children aged 10+. McAleer Solutions are flexible about dates, times and location, covering the whole of Madrid and further afield (surplus travelling costs apply).
Alternatively, they run an urban camp in Madrid for children aged 10 upwards who are invited to take part in the Explora Madrid program which has them touring Madrid with an English-speaking guide.
The drop off/meeting point is Calle Guadalquivir 16.
Melton Language Services, in collaboration with CEU San Pablo school, offer entertaining and varied summer courses for children aged 4-18 at their site in Martin de los Heros 60. There is also a parallel course available for 16-18 year olds that are preparing for First Certificate and Proficiency exams (offered from 30th June – 11th July). By means of these summer courses Melton Language Services amply demonstrate their strong belief that the formative years are the ideal time to stimulate interest in other languages and cultures.
Based in el Soto de la Moraleja, Little Acorns offer an exciting and well-balanced summer camp which includes excursions, boot camp, quizzes, iPads and plenty of water play for children aged 1 to 10. Total success is guaranteed with small groups of children working with their great team of teachers and helpers, all in English.
Sus Pequeños Pasos in Pinar de Chamartin is a multilingual infant school that opens its doors to children aged 3-6 years for a themed summer camp that runs from 30th June until 29th of August. Parents can choose between activities in English or activities in French for their children. Groups are small and they have an extended timetable.
This year GNP are offering a summer camp for children aged 3-9 called “The Fairy Tale Factory”. It promises to be a fun-filled experience with the children creating their own fairy tales as part of a series of activities in English. The camp runs for three weeks in July and has a full-day program as well as mornings only.
Finally, a mention for the 100% native English camp that my children went to last year and will be attending again this summer. The third edition of Kids Fun Ideas summer camp is to take place in Chamartin with drop off time from 8am and pick up until 4pm. The counselors are all native English speakers with the ability to communicate in Spanish. However Spanish is not spoken and English is the means, not the end. This camp is all about sharing great ideas, having fun and making new friends, all in English! For children aged 4-9 the camp offers a discount for siblings.