The whole caboodle
If your kids are into everything, and you have more than one that needs to be kept busy, consider a multi-activity programme. There are plenty of camps around town that offer everything from swimming sessions and football to crafts, drama, music and games sessions. Added bonuses include sibling discounts, the need to do only one drop-off and, if your younger child is a bit shy, the benefit of having big bro or sis around to give them a bit of support. We like E-Sports Holiday Camps, which offer every kind of activity you could throw a flip-flop at, including rock climbing, drama, dodgeball, IT club, tennis, soccer, swimming, cricket, hockey, relay games, gymnastics, basketball, arts and crafts and more. Transport to and from the camps is provided and siblings get a bargainous 20 per cent discount. Ages 4-14, Dhs125 (daily) Dhs750 (five days). 8.45am-2pm. Jumeirah Primary School, Wellington International School, Wellington Primary School, GEMS World Academy, Royal Dubai School, Winchester, and Wafi, April 3-14. 050 361 1547; www.esportsdubai.com.
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Active Sports Academy: Ages 4-14, Dhs150 (daily), Dhs375 (three days), Dhs550 (five days). 8.30am-1.30pm. DESS and Regent International School, April 3-21. Uptown Primary School, April 20-22 and 24-28. 050 394 6885; www.activeuae.com.
Dubai Holiday Camps: Ages 3-13, Dhs125-150 (daily) Dhs495-595 (five days). 8.15am-1.45pm, Raffles International School, April 3-7. www.dubaiholidaycamps.com
Libra Multi-Activity holiday Camp: Ages 4-14, Dhs750 (five days). 9am-2.30pm (early drop-offs at 8am for an additional Dhs100). Jebel Ali Primary School, April 10-21, Dubai British School, April 17-21, Greenfield Community School, April 24-28. 800 LIBRA (54272) or 055 922 8362.
Football Get them practicing their dribbling techniques and indulging in fitness training, drill practice, matches, penalty shoot-outs and organised tournaments. The EFA Football in the City week-long spring camp run by E-Sports is a great option for kids of all abilities. Ages 4-16, Dhs150 (daily), Dhs600 (five days). 9am-1pm, April 3-7. Dubai American Academy (Al Barsha), DESS, (Oud Metha Rd). 050 286 1041; www.esportsdubai.com.
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Libra Soccer Camp: Ages 4-14, Dhs750 (four days). 8am-2pm, April 3-6, 10-13. Sharjah Football Club, 800 LIBRA (54272) or 055 922 8362
Swimming: If your kids are still struggling to master doggy paddle, why not get them to improve their strokes? Libra Swim Camps are the perfect solution, offering programmes that take children from basic water safety through to all four strokes. If your kids swim like fish and just want to improve their Olympic chances, try Swim Squad classes, which include dry-land training and nutritional education too. Learn-to-swim camp Ages 4 +, Dhs250 (five half-hour lessons over one week) Greenfield Community School (afternoons) April 24-28. JESS Jumeirah (mornings) April 10-14. Swim Squad Ages 5-18, Dhs300 (five hour-long sessions over one week). JESS Jumeirah, (mornings) April 10-14. 800 LIBRA (5472) or 050 922 8362.
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Speedo Swim School: Ages 3 +, from Dh150 (three 30-minute lessons). 4.30pm-6.30pm, April 10-14, 17-21. Horizon School, English College, DESC. 04 354 9525; www.speedodubai.net.
Tennis: Fantastic for all-over body fitness, improving hand to eye co-ordination and getting rid of all that excess energy. The folks at Clark Francis Tennis camp stress that it’s ‘just for fun’ but they also put your budding Nadals through their paces. Sessions include technical instruction, fitness training and supervised match play from full-time professional tennis coaches. Ages 5-16, Dhs150 (daily), Dhs600 (five days). 9am-noon, April 4-7, 10-14. Dubai Tennis Stadium, Al Garhoud. 050 685 8304; www.clarkfrancistennis.com.
Nursery camp These work well for kids used to a structured schedule and are handy for trying out a nursery if you are planning to enrol your child later in the year. We like The Kensington Nursery Camp because it’s so jam-packed with activities. Little ones get to participate in all of the usual arts, crafts, music drama, dress-up and science fun, but there’s also emphasis on physical activities and outdoor play, which includes enjoying the on-site children’s botanical garden and the nursery’s own petting zoo. Breakfast, snacks, lunch and afternoon tea (for late pick-ups) are included. This camp also caters to slightly older children, so siblings can go together and make the most of the 10 per cent discount. Ages 2-7, Dhs165-195 (daily) Dhs1,300-1,600 (10 days) 7.30am-2pm and 6pm, April 3-14. Umm Al Sheif Street, 04 394 4473; www.thekensingtonnursery.com.
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British Orchard Nursery: Ages 2-5, Dhs125 (daily) Dhs500 (weekly). 10am-2pm, April 10-21, Beach Road and Mankhool Road branches. 04 398 3536, 04 395 3570; www.britishorchardnursery.com
Kid’s Island Spring Camp: Ages 2-5, Dhs145 (daily) Dhs435 (three days) Dhs580 (four days) Dhs725 (five days). 8am-12.30pm, April 10-21, Kid’s Island Nursery, Jumeirah 3. 04 394 2578; www.kidsislandnursery.com.
Little Scholars Academy: Ages 6 months-4 years, Dhs150-220 (daily), Dhs1,350-1,980 (10 days). 7am-1.30pm, 3pm and 6pm, April 10-21. Umm Suqeim, 04 395 5532; www.lsa.ae.
Rising Star Nursery: Ages 18 months-5 years, Dhs790-1,150 (weekly) Dhs175-250 (daily). 8am-12.30pm, 2pm and 5pm, April 10-14. Umm Suqeim, 04 348 8805; www.rsn.ae.
Play centre camps
Nurseries get full pretty quickly, so your chances of getting a place at a children’s play centre may be better. A long-time favourite of ours is Favourite Things because it’s a dedicated kid-friendly zone and there’s loads to do that will suit anyone from tots of two, right up to strapping seven-year-olds. The packed itinerary includes cooking and wacky science lessons, Fit Kidz exercise classes, puppet shows, song-and-dance sessions, storytelling, magic, arts and crafts, dress-up and drama, as well as face and body painting. Book well ahead as it fills up quickly. Ages 2-7, Dhs155 (daily) Dhs620 (five days). 9.30am-1pm, March 27-April 28. Favourite Things, Marina Mall, March 27-April 28. 04 434 1984; www.favouritethings.com.
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Little Learners workshops (formerly Cité des Enfants) Ages 3-7, Dhs90 (for a 90-minute class). Run throughout the day, from 10am-11.30pm. Playnation, Mirdif City Centre. 055 218 6122; www.playnationme.com.
For pint-sized Picassos, check out Ductac’s creative craft camp. Get your little ones drawing, painting, decorating ceramics and other media, while learning about famous artists, art techniques and art history from all over the world. Students hone their technical skills, receive personal guidance from art instructors and share ideas with friends. All art materials and an Art Camp t-shirt are provided. Ages 6-12, Dhs900 (five days). 10am-1.30pm, April 3-7. Ductac, 04 341 4777; www.ductac.org. We also like the sound of Maria’s Holiday Workshop where UK-trained artist Maria teaches kids the basics of acrylic painting. Ages 8-15, Dhs200 per day or Dhs900 for five days. 10am-1pm, April 3-7. Ductac, 050 875 2366. And, of course, there’s the fab KidzArt programme which takes kids through three different projects – mixed media, acrylics and water colours. Ages 6-12, Dhs585, 10am-1pm, April 11-13 April, Ductac, 055 222 0129.
We recommend the three-day Libra Performing Arts Camp because it’s a good all-rounder and includes choreography in hip-hop, tap dance, cheerleading and circus training, as well as acrobatics. Musical theatre, prop and costume design are all part of the dramatic fun and games too. Students work towards a mini-performance on the final day. Ages 4-14, Dhs500 (three-day programme). 9am-1pm, April 17-20, Greenfield Community School. 800 LIBRA (54272); email@example.com.
Best of the rest
Get stuck in to the Cooking Up Spring Camp, taught by foodie mum, Tina McFadzean, who covers food and kitchen safety, as well as basic techniques and recipes from around the world and ‘foodie field trips’. An apron, recipe book, tools, certificate, daily lunch and healthy snacks are provided. Ages 5+, Dhs700 (five days). 9am-1.30pm, April 10-14. 050 458 3015.
The popular Mad Science camps are brilliant for budding Einsteins. Pick from a range of programmes, including the garden camp, where tots can find out about the creepy crawlies and plants in their own back yard, and camps for slightly older brainboxes who want to discover more about crime-scene chemistry and the science behind engineering.
The garden camp Ages 4-6, Dhs700 (five days), April 10-14. Moving with science camp Ages 7-12, Dhs900 (five days) April 10-14. Chemicals, cells and crime camp Ages 7-12, Dhs900 (five days) April 10-14. Call for locations and timings; 04 337 7403, 056 694 5247, www.madscience.org.
All camped out?
Don’t fancy forking out for a camp? Check out our top five budget bests.
1 Picnics in the park: For bikes, bouncy castles and boating lakes, check out Safa Park or head to Mushrif Park for a proper cycling track, mini-international village and petting zoo. Jumeirah Beach Park and Al Mamzar Park are ideal for beach bums and both have great picnic areas, playgrounds and snack bars (Al Mamzar also has air conditioned chalets and barbecue areas for rent). Creek Park is a brilliant all-rounder. Take a tour on the cable cars (Dhs15-Dhs25 for a 35 minute trip).
2 Pick a play centre: We love Little Explorers (800 LEISURE) where Dhs190 will get two kids and mum inside their fantastic learning zones for a full day. Mini Monsters on Sheikh Zayed Road (04 325 5331) is a multi-storey jungle gym with loads of slides and tubes. It costs Dhs40 for the first hour, Dhs20 after that. Kids’ Corner (050 694 6498) at Festival City is a supervised soft play area with mini-boating lake and loads of bouncy/tubey things. Dhs50 for the first hour, Dhs25 after that or Dhs100 for the day.
3 Arty stuff: If they can be trusted around shelves piled high with precarious pottery (this one is best for five and ups) Café Céramique (04 344 7331) is a great option for crafty types. Get them pot-painting from Dhs60 while you enjoy a coffee. If that whets their appetite, book them a three-hour session at The JamJar (04 334 8706) a fully functioning art studio with all of the supplies they’ll need to create a masterpiece. Dhs90 per session.
4 Animal crackers: Motor out to Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (www.awpr.ae) for animals, superb picnic areas and a botanical garden. Dhs15 for adults, Dhs5 for children. Or check out the Arabian Wildlife Park in Sharjah (06 531 1999; www.breedingcentresharjah.com). Entry is Dhs15 per person, and kids under 12 go free. There’s a petting zoo where little ones stroke camels, cows, donkeys and goats. Posh Paws Animal Sanctuary and Petting Zoo (050 273 0973; www.poshpawsdubai.com) welcomes small visitors to its rural menagerie seven days a week. Entry is free, but donations are welcome.
5 Sport Billies: Check out the Hyatt Regency (04 209 1234) nine-hole mini golf course. Open from 8am-6pm, it costs Dhs45 per person. If you fancy a swim but don’t have access to a pool at home, try the municipality swimming pools at Al Mamzar and Mushrif Park, Dhs10 for adults, Dhs5 for children. However, be aware of the different timings for men and women. Emirates Equestrian Centre (050 558 7656) near Bab Al Shams offers pony rides for Dhs20 or five lessons for a bargainous Dhs450. If your lad and his mates want a game of footie, why not hire a pitch at the Ahdaaf astroturf pitch (04 347 7666) in Al Quoz? A five-a-side pitch costs Dhs350 per hour.