Summer holidays are a break from school and a chance for children to relax. They can also be a time to learn new skills. Summer camps and activities cater for a range of interests including sports, arts and computers.
In one summer at the BTEK de Zamudio technology camp in Spain, more than 250 children between 9 and 16-years old have visited their huge black pyramid to learn how to programme robots and to design their own video games.
Jesús Ángel Bravo set up the centre. He said: “A father will do anything for his son, he’ll move mountains, and I had this idea in the mountains. I wanted my son to learn some basic technology and because I couldn’t find any suitable activities here in Spain, I thought, “Well, why don’t we organise some?”
In the robot-building sessions, they are using Lego Mindstorms NXT 20 technology to construct and programme intelligent machines equipped with audio, tactile and colour sensors.
Sara Sainz-Aja, an instructor, said: “All these children have previous knowledge of technology, that’s obvious. But they have no prior experience of programming. So we have very simple programmes equipped with an interface like a puzzle; very simple to understand, so they don’t need any previous programming experience.”
For more information see www.btek.org
Water activities are popular during hot summer weather, especially sailing which is more than a physical challenge. At the Regatta Sailing School in Doha children also learn about the environment and team work.
The school’s manager, Michael Lawton, said: “They learn how the wind works, therefore they are immediately learning about the environment. They get a little knowledge about how the tides work and also about the moon, the sun and the alignment of gravity. They also learn about what is in the sea and therefore learn to respect it. The more conciousness we can get into those young children about the world they live in, and how not to damage it quite so much – I think is so important.”
Mike and his wife established this sailing school more than 7 years ago. They run youth sailing programmes for complete beginners, training them to compete in races and regattas. They also work with special needs children.
For some, it’s just a fun summer holiday activity, for others sailing becomes a lifetime passion.
For more information see www.regattasailingacademy.com
In Japan, shaken by the twin disasters of an earthquake and tsunami earlier this year, learning how to survive a natural catastrophe is a matter of a life and death. So a series of activities aim to prepare families for the worst.
Children and their parents experience a simulated earthquake of the same magnitude as the one which caused the devasting tsunami in northern Japan last March. Earthquakes often trigger fires, so professional fire fighters are show children how to use a fire extinguisher properly. There’s also a house filled with simulated smoke.
After a disaster, you might need to gather firewood and make a fire. So the children take part in a contest to be the first to light a camp fire big enough to cook on. And they also learn how to cook over a camp fire and how to carry injured people. And children are also allowed to explore emergency vehicles because you never know. The day may come when well prepared children could save lives.