Parent Guide

UK Summer Camps & Courses Parent Guide

Welcome to Summer Fun 4 Kids - the UK directory of Summer Camps and Courses. The long summer holidays are increasingly recognised as a great opportunity for young people to take part in organised activities, playschemes or day camps either within their local area on a daily basis or living away from home at an American-style residential Summer Camp. This directory aims to provide a summary of available opportunities throughout the UK as well as background information and useful resources.

Frequently Used Terms

Day Camps: Non-residential full-day courses for unaccompanied children and teenagers. Day Camps usually run from Mondays to Fridays offer a varied programme of sports, adventure or creative activities throughout each day. Arrival and departure times vary but usually involve a starting time between 9.00-10.00am and a collection time between 4.00-5.00pm. Day Camps are provided predominantly for young people living within the immediate catchment area of the venue, but some offer a supervised transport service from a wider catchment area. Age groups from 3 years and above.

Holiday Playschemes: Non-residential full or part-day supervised childcare for unaccompanied children and teenagers. Playschemes are usually run  by voluntary organisattions or local authorities. Playschemes may be restricted to specific activities (E.g. Sports or Arts & Crafts) or involve a range of different activities. Some playschemes may involve off-site trips. Playschemes are provided predominantly for young people living within the immediate catchment area of the venue. Age groups from 3 years and above.

Sports / Activity Courses: Specialist courses in single activities or sports. These courses usually take 2 or 3 hours per day, lasting anything from a single day to a progressive course over 4/5 consecutive days. Sports courses are usually led by qualified Instructors / Coaches and national governing body awards may be achieved, subject to the length of course. Sports courses are often organised by local authority sports centres or specialist centres (e.g. Riding Schools, Watersports Centres, etc.). Age groups from 7 years and above.

Multi-Activity: Programmes or courses involving a combination of acctivities rather than a specialist course. Typically multi-activity programmes involve between 4-6 activity sessions per day, with each activity session lasting between 1-1.5 hours. This type of course usually focuses on "taster" or introductory sessions in a range of acctivities such as sports, adventure, creative and performing arts activities. Age groups from 3 years and above.

Residential Camps: Independent holidays for unaccompanied children. Age groups from 7 years and above. Children and teenagers are supervised round the clock in a secure residential environment such as a boarding school or an activity centre. Group leaders usually take care of children's pastoral and welfare needs while Instructors provide a programme of activities - specialist courses or multi-activity. Evening entertainments are usually organised as quiter winding-down sessions after dinner each day. Unlike American summer camps, the UK versions usually involve a 7 or 14 day break, usually running from a Saturday or Sunday. Age groups from 7 years and above.

Frequently Asked Questions

What about safety?

Most summer camps and courses are regulated by various independent bodies who will inspect and monitor safety standards. Levels of inspection vary according to the type of course or camp:

Day Camps & Playschemes: All day camps and playschemes offering full daycare programmes for children under the age of 8 are legally required to register with their local authority social services department under the terms of  Care Standards Act 2000. Registered providers are subject to inspection by OFSTED.

Sports / Activity Courses: Will not generally be registered with the local authority unless they provide tuition for under 8's. Watersports centres may be recognised by their national governing body (Royal Yachting Association for Sailing or Windsurfing, British Canoe Union for Canoeing). Horse Riding centres are legally required to register with the local authority amd may also be a member of the British Horse Society.

Adventure Activities: Any commercial organisation providing specific adventure activities (certain watersports, climbing, trekking and caving activities) is legally required to obtain a licence from the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority. This body inspects and monitors safety standards in these activities and information on these inspections is available to the public from the AALA. Office in Cardiff (tel. 029 20 755715)

Residential Camps: Not subject to legal registration unless they operate specific adventure activites (see above) or provide courses for under 8's. Operators who are members of the British Activity Providers Association are subject to an independent inspection scheme covering site safety, activity standards, staff qualifications & training, health & safety and emergency procedures.

What about staff police checks?

All registered day camps and playschemes are required to get checks on specific staff, but it is worth checking with the provider to see what their policy is on this area. Employers can request information held by the police on individuals through a criminal record disclosure check. For some posts employers also need to check that the candidate is not on the list of adults barred from working with children. In England and Wales this is done via the Disclosure and Barring Service, in Northern Ireland via AccessNI and in Scotland via Disclosure Scotland.
More information on the Disclosure and Barring Service.

What about staff qualifications?

You may also want to check on staff qualifications. Most sports governing bodies have an official coaching scheme for Instructors or Leaders at various levels. It is a good idea to ask for further information on staff qualifications if the organisation does not explain its policy in its promotional material or website.

When is the best time to book?

Many summer courses have limited places due to staff ratio capacities or limited availability of equipment. Summer courses may start booking ahead as early as January. Some providers will accept a deposit payment to secure a booking and then require the balance to be paid nearer the time of the course.

Where can I get further information?

For further information on courses featured in the Summer Fun 4 Kids directory simply click on the info button to be directed straight to their web site. Additional information on safety inspection schemes, sports governing bodies and local childcare information can be found in our Links section. Local libraries are often a good source of additional local information.

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