Spring and summer camps can be an exciting time for students and a relief for many parents. With options for outdoor play and activities becoming increasingly limited as temperatures rise, choosing a camp with the right kind of activities becomes essential for a good balance of fun, safety and value for money.

During the last school holiday break at the end of March and start of April, there was a big shift in the weather. Rain had poured down only days before and threatened to ruin plans for some outdoor activities planned for the Deira International School Adventure Holiday Programme.

Lucky for the students, there were also some excellent ‘Plan B’ activities to complement what was already in place for visiting some of Dubai’s latest attractions and adventures, as well as some more well-known ones. For one full week of the holidays, there were indoor and outdoor activities to keep students entertained and involved, for example, they used to play darts 301 and it turned out to be fun.

One of the first stops was to the Dubai Mall where students had a fun session on the ice skating rink. Getting there early in the morning was an experience where getting to watch some local teams practice was almost as exciting as getting out there ourselves! After waiting for the teams to finish and strapping on the boots, it was time to go over some of the basics before letting the group loose on the ice.
Many of the students had never tried ice-skating before and some took to it quicker than others. Fortunately for those finding it tricky to stay upon both blades, there were the penguins, which are like training wheels for ice skaters. But with a boldness that often comes with youth, everybody managed to get the hang of it and got involved with the obligatory line-to-line races and other competition games.

After an immersive meal experience at the famous Rain Forest Café, the next stop on our visit to the mall was to the Aquarium’s new VR Zoo. An interactive attraction with some mind-blowing virtual reality software designed to give users a fantastic insight into the natural world. Teams were deployed to all corners of the globe for gathering footage to bring learning about various animal species to the VR platform.

The well-informed education specialists at the Aquarium then guided students through the entertaining exhibits at the Underwater Zoo. Behind the scenes, students can watch handlers feed the huge fish that come splashing up to catch their mouthful of food. And of course, no visit to the Aquarium would be complete without coming to see the impressive bulk of King Croc. Even cooler for us was having Paul Hamilton, who brought King Croc from Australia to the UAE, tell us the stories himself!

For some more energetic activities, we had sessions booked at one of Dubai’s trampoline parks which are fast becoming a favourite pastime for many people, gaining popularity across a range of age groups. With spaces to jump or flip into foam pits and areas for team games like dodgeball, trampoline parks are awesome places to spend a few hours. For teachers supervising the groups, it’s a great way to show students what they can or can’t do anymore on a trampoline. The tight muscles and sore ribs the following day are sure signs that more practice (or stretching) is the way forward!

After pumping this much adrenaline for so long, it’s easy to work up a hunger and having students make their own lunch at California Pizza Kitchen was just what we needed! With all kinds of toppings being thrown onto the pizza base, and some fantastical names being given to their creations, the result was happy students and full bellies.

Also included on our holiday programme were visits to Sega Republic to get our fix of the gaming machines and thrill rides. This popular attraction for kids of all ages is a space that can be utilized for a full day of entertainment. With an unlimited pass for challenges and competitions, there were plenty of laughs at staff struggling to keep up with the proficient gamers of the group.

While all of this was going on at the Sega Republic, a younger group was busy engaged in building block tasks, making soap and creating avatars at Cloud 7. This is located in a handy location for us in City Walk, with plenty of other nearby attractions for student groups, including the amazing Hub Zero.

But what holiday programme for schools is complete without bouncy castles! We are quite fortunate to have the facilities to create a lineup of activities indoors where groups can rotate around bouncy castles, indoor archery, arts and crafts, swimming, and even a ninja course. But of course, none of this can be possible without enlisting the proper help and supervision to make sure every activity is safely supervised by qualified staff.

For this holiday programme at Deira International School, along with our own teachers and assistants, we recruited the support of some highly qualified staff from the Umm Al Quwain Marine Club for the week. These instructors have become familiar with many of our students from past school camps and trips to the club. Our final day was also spent at the UAQ Marine Club with loads of fun activities and a wonderful buffet lunch at the shoreline majlis. Activities included the ever-popular zip-line experience, banana boat rides, maze competitions, human foosball and other games.

Students left after a week filled with engaging activities and a lot of enjoyable experiences. Now, with summer just around the corner, parents will no doubt be looking for camps that have a few vital elements. These include safety, fun, affordability and variety. Hopefully, wherever students go for their holidays, whether in the UAE or abroad, it is filled with fun, adventure, and new experiences! ■

Words + Photos by: Haydon Kerr


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