Peter Cornish highlights some organisations that are providing fantastic Summer Camps in Vietnam for young ones over the school break. Photos by Vinh DaoModel Owen Rossall.

Summer is almost with us. Schools are preparing for the end of term, teachers are breathing a sigh of relief, kids are looking forward to their holiday’s and parents are wondering how to occupy their little darlings during the long break. The easiest answer of course, is to give them an iPad and lock them in their room as you get on with your daily life.

But if you’re thinking something a little more constructive, a little more creative, perhaps even a little more educational, here’s a look at some of what’s on offer for kids in the city during the summer months.

Most parents appreciate the value of sending their kids to school. A formal education, and accompanying qualifications, are an essential part of preparing a child for their future. But to equip your kid for life in the grown-up world, they need a wealth of skills above and beyond those gained by sitting at a desk. Soft skills. Problem solving, decision making, confidence, independence, self-motivation, creativity and social interaction, among many others.

The world has changed since we were kids. Childhood now is all too often spent inside, with a computer, tablet or smartphone for company. Relationships and social interaction are happening via a screen, rather than face-to-face. Kids need to unplug, disconnect, explore themselves and their surroundings, push their boundaries. Forge memories that will stay with them for life and develop skills that will give them a great foundation for the future.

One organisation that appreciates the importance of helping kids grow into mature, capable young adults is American Paradise Camp. They provide a fun, safe, and international environment for kids to explore and learn at their residential camp on beachfront property in Phan Thiet.

Campers stay in a communal cabin with 5 to 7 other kids the same age and gender where they live together, eat together and participate in a series of fun activities, making new friends and helping each other learn. Each cabin has two counsellors who supervise the kids constantly.

During their time with APC kids get to participate in different daily activities, getting the chance to follow a routine, improve at new skills every day, and try new things that they are interested in. There’s a choice of over 40 activities in four different areas: sports, art, waterfront and adventure. After the day is done, there are evening activities that give the whole camp a chance to mingle, socialise and enjoy beach life with new friends.

A similar residential experience is offered by Camp Asia. Their engaging programmes encourage kids to explore the outdoors and build valuable life skills, as well as develop their English language skills. With destinations such as Madagui, Ta Lai Longhouse, Dao O Dong Truong Island, and Nam Cat Tien National Park, kids learn through team building activities such as jungle camping, rock climbing, white water rafting, survival skills and self-defence.

Besides experience and adventure camps, Camp Asia also offer beach camping trips with fun water activities. Destinations include Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island, Nam Du Island, and Ky Co Peninsula. A unique and popular programme offered by Camp Asia is their Service Learning Trip which is a great option for kids who want to discover how their actions can impact on society and the environment.

Camp Asia works closely with local schools and orphanages to build relationships based on confidence and mutual respect, and has developed a programme to teach kids about social differences, solidarity and volunteering for the community.

With programmes running in Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Khanh Hoa, Saigon, Dong Nai, Da Nang, and Tay Ninh, kids learn practical and social skills through community building projects, exploring traditional local enterprise, hands-on involvement in agricultural activities and exchange programmes with kids from less advantaged backgrounds. This is a great option for parents who want their kids to do something more meaningful during their summer break.

If you’ve got boys in the family they might be tempted Arsenal Soccer Schools Vietnam, which offers both residential and day camps at locations in Saigon’s District 1, 2 and 7 and Pleiku City. Not entirely football focused, but certainly with an emphasis on the mastery of ball skills, the camps offer aspiring young footballers and complete newbies a fun and healthy learning environment. It also gives the chance to experience the day-to-day life of a professional footballer.

Arsenal Soccer Schools have been running training programme in Vietnam for the last 9 years and has made a valuable contribution to the grassroots development of the country’s local talent. They offer kids a first class learning environment which promotes and encourages passion, creativity, enjoyment, and a sense-of-belonging. Expect the highest standards in coaching techniques and equipment as they work to develop individual’s abilities, and teach them to “Play the Arsenal Way”. Chelsea and Millwall fans are welcome too.

If kicking a football around the pitch is not your child’s idea of fun, something a little more artistically creative can be found at VinSpace. Their camp programmes are guaranteed to fill the school break with fun and creative activities that place an emphasis on the artistic.  Learning to manipulate art and craft materials, students are encouraged to use their imagination, while developing their fine motor skills.

Each lesson is devoted to a new project and budding young artists are taught how to produce beautiful and unique pieces of art, both individually and in groups.  Activities are fun and stimulating and designed to enhance children’s creativity in an ‘arty way’ while they explore their creativity and develop their coordination skills.

If you’re looking for something a little more academic, The Canadian International School is running their Joy of Innovation Summer Camp that encourages kids to explore an innovative environment with MAKERSPACE.  Using STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics), kids develop their personal interests using tools as simple as paper and scissors to as complex as a 3D printer to bring their ideas to reality.

Their Around the World programme gives kids a passport to the world over a 6-week period. Each week, kids get to experience the cultures of a different country, starting in our homeland, Vietnam. Over the 6-week programme they will explore safaris in Australia, playing hockey in Canada, water games on Thai beaches, Brazilian costume festivals and the delights of Japanese cuisine.  All from the safety of the CISS campus.

Some schools, such as BIS, are running their own summer programmes for their year round students. If you’re still unsure how to occupy your lovely little darlings over the summer break, just have a chat with their regular school who may well be offering some fun alternatives.