Time to say hurray!
The summer break spells a time for fun and travel, especially for teenagers and children who get a much-needed respite from their books and importantly the heat. While many usually leave the country on vacation, there are those who prefer to stay back and enjoy the summer activities.
In the months of June and July, the emirate usually has no dearth of activities, camps and not to mention summer surprises to ensure an action-packed, fun-filled time for the young and old.
Summer camps are synonymous with vacations and parents and youngsters have a variety of options to pick from theatre workshops, summer courses in journalism, film-making and creative writing, dancing classes, art of living courses and sports activities like basket ball competitions, besides others.
In theatre workshops, students can work in the fields of acting, music and choreography. They will be taught aspects of theatre stagecraft and discipline by experienced tutors who have theatre experience in major West End Productions, either in a leading role in a musical or play or have been involved in choreographing or directing a major show.
Recently, the Dubai Schools Agency (DSA) launched its summer camp programme for 6,000 students who have the chance to take part in activities from diving to learning the Holy Quran.
Called 'Moltaqa Al Ma'arefa' (which means 'a forum for knowledge'), the camp will take place at 10 centres across Dubai.
It is being run by the DSA, an agency of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, and promises to have something for everyone, including the specially gifted and children with special needs.
Fatma Al Marri, CEO of Dubai Schools Agency, said, "We promised last year that we will improve the quality and quantity of summer activities, and we are delivering what we promised by launching 'Moltaqa Al Ma'arefa'.
"This is a step towards creating an attractive environment for our students to invest their time doing something both useful and entertaining. We hope it will help them develop their skills and talents, as well as building their character. These young people will play an important role in the development of UAE."
She added, "I would like to invite all parents to enrol their children in this camp, and I would like to assure them that all activities are designed with the safety and well-being of their children at heart. Their children are our children, and are our responsibility when they are with us."
The camps will host a variety of activities such as swimming, diving, shooting, chess, tennis, and horse-riding. It also has local entertainment trips, a trip to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, scientific and educational courses, and others to teach and learn the Holy Quran. There will also be courses in flower arrangement, fashion, painting, photography and crafts, besides courses in media and music.
The KHDA is also launching a programme in English language skills to help high school students who face delays in going to college because their English is not up to the mark. This is a step aimed at ending the need for a foundation year. The course targets national students who have completed Grade 12 from public schools in Dubai and who have some knowledge of the English language. The course, to be held at Dubai International Academic City, starts on June 15 and lasts for eight weeks. It is free of charge.
Another programme being held in cooperation with a large number of public and private establishments is called 'My Profession'. This aims to prepare students for entering the job market, to teach them about professional life, and to let them experience working life.
There will also be a fun English Language Development project, which includes an Oxbridge course conducted in cooperation with Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the UK. The course is to enhance and develop English language skills and by making it fun. It is hoped to boost youngsters' self-confidence in speaking English. The project will include a trip to England.
The Student Leadership project, which includes a trip to Mauritius, started on July 7. It aims to develop leadership skills among students. Three participants nominated by each school are participating in the 10-day project.
Media, theatre training
The Dubai Press Club (DPC) usually organises the Kids Press Club, where children from all ages and nationalities get training to become television, radio and print journalists in a four-week workshop. Children usually also visit publishing and media houses as part of the DPC's annual summer programmes.
Institutes are also offering language courses for students during the summer holidays.
For instance, Eton Institute is organising super-intensive Arabic and English Summer Courses and some classes have already started. The super-intensive language programmes cater to those interested in learning Arabic and English or upgrading their level to intermediate or advanced.
Dr Eli Abi Rached, managing director of Eton Institute, described the programme as "a unique opportunity" for anyone who is spending their summer in the UAE. "This gives them an opportunity to learn a foreign language or upgrade their current level under the guidance of teachers who are professionally trained native speakers and passionate about teaching not just the language but also their culture."
The courses are designed to make the whole learning experience fun and the interactive boards which were introduced for the first time in the Middle East by the institute transcends in to a creative and dynamic experience that supports personalised learning and development.
The Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre is also teaching children painting, drawing, colour mixing, collage, printing, pottery, clay and acrylic painting.
Schools can also be fun
Several schools have also taken the initiative to hold camps again this year.
The Indian High School will be holding several sports activities including ice skating, swimming, table tennis, badminton, basketball, karate, yoga and public-speaking classes.
Delhi Private School, Sharjah, has taken the initiative of building its school basketball team by conducting a summer camp from June 21 to August 21 in the school.
The morning session from 7.30am to 9.30am will be vigorous and intensive and the dispersal at 9.30am will enable the children to catch up with other activities during the rest of the day. The girls and boys will be coached in the different basketball courts.
Wellington International School, Jumeirah Primary School, Royal Dubai School (Mirdif) and Westminster School (Al Ghusais) will also hold a series of sports activities.
Art of Living courses are being held for children. They are believed to be highly effective stress management and human values training programmes for kids and teens. Presented in a practical framework that appeals to children of all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds, the programmes offer an enlightened approach that awakens them to their highest and deepest potential.
Students identify themselves with higher values such as acceptance of others, empathy, respect, trust and selfless giving. Students are challenged to go beyond their limited perspective to consider the world at large, with all its diversity.
Emphasis is placed on hands-on activities which incorporate these values into their lives through first-hand experience. By designing their own volunteer project, kids are empowered to take more responsibility and further develop an attitude of service towards each other and caring for the planet.
It's Modhesh time
The Modhesh Friends Club offers the ultimate edutainment experience for kids this summer with fun-filled field trips, sports, social and cultural programmes and much more during DSS 2008.
The Dubai Shopping Festival office has started receiving membership applications for the Modhesh Friends Club due to take place during the upcoming DSS 2008. The club is scheduled to start on June 21 and will last till August 21 with an overdose of fun and frolic in addition to edutainment programmes for all children between the ages of four and 13.
The members of the club will have a lot to do this summer as the DSF office has laid out a comprehensive and carefully planned programme that aims at developing the children's skills and abilities while having fun. The programme will include field trips to various entertainment and social institutions around the city of Dubai. Wild Wadi, Magic Planet, Ski Dubai and children's movies at the theatres are just part of what is planned this edition.
Other field trips include social visits to hospitals and water bus trips. In addition, the club offers five edutainment programmes — Islamic, social and cultural, creativity and skills development, sports, and computer programmes. All will take place at Modhesh Fun City.
Laila Al Jassim, Modhesh Friends Club supervisor, said, "The club is being developed and expanded in terms of programmes and members every year due to its overwhelming popularity. The DSF office sets the programmes based on scientific and social studies and it is implemented by specialised professionals in a safe and secure environment, and that is a sure success combination."
"All our members will enjoy free entry to Modhesh Fun City at all times, including the international shows that will take place on Modhesh centre stage," she added.
"This year, we are organising two shifts to cater to the rising membership demand — the morning shift from 9am to 1pm and evening shift from 3pm to 7pm. This will give mothers a better choice of timings to enrol their children.
Camps for children with special needs
This summer, many can avail of the facilities of the Etisalat Academy to entertain and educate their children at the eighth eSummer. Participating families will benefit and have full access to all the facilities that the academy has to offer, such as the swimming pools, playgrounds, library and computer labs.
The event will give a special focus on autism and children with other special needs this year. The Etisalat Academy will hold two separate days during the programme to celebrate with these children and their families.
SNF, a committed centre for young adults with special needs, is also organising free summer camps to help families keep their special needs people happily engaged through the vacation. At the summer camp, they provide unique opportunity for mothers, special needs children and their siblings to interact through crafts, games, music and other such activities. They meet thrice a week and one day every week is allotted to trips to places like the Snow Park, Wild Wadi, and Wonderland as well as play areas in various malls.
These different activities should hopefully keep the children engaged for the rest of the vacation and help them learn new skills and techniques in varied fields.
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