What is a residential summer camp?

Have you ever wanted to go on a sleepover that lasted more than 1 night, or a holiday with your friends but not your parents? Residential summer camp is your home away from home! Residential camp is a place where you can make amazing memories and lifelong friends, try new activities and gain more independence being away from home, all whilst having the best time of your life! If being away from home sounds a bit intimidating, you can be sure that at a residential or ‘sleep-away’ camp you will always have a great support network. There will always either be someone else who is at camp for the first time, or you may even already have friends at camp if you went last year. You will always have someone to turn to for support and guidance whether that’s your roommate, your friend, your activity leader, your evening staff or your fellow campers! Everyone had to be a first-time camper at some point. When thinking about whether you would like to go to a residential camp, there are lots of different things to think about, which may affect which camp you would like to go to or which programme you want to join.

How long are you happy to be away from home?

All over the world, different camps offer different residential or overnight camp programmes. If you are fairly new to the idea of camp then you may want to find a camp which runs ‘taster sessions’ for the weekend, however, most camps will run for a block week or two weeks as a minimum, giving you the opportunity to arrive at the weekend and then do activities for one or two weeks before returning home.

Can I stay all summer?

Yes, there are camps where you can book for up to two months, which is the entire summer session! This, of course, will all depend on your age. For most summer camps, you need to be at least 7 years old to stay overnight and you can keep coming to camp as a teenager too. Often campers will start with shorter sessions and return for longer sessions as they get older. Some camps even offer a programme to allow you to train to be staff, often called worker-in- training or counsellor-in-training so the fun never stops!

Will I be homesick?

Campers do sometimes feel homesick and this is perfectly normal, it is a new environment and a new experience. The camp staff will understand that sometimes you may feel homesick at some point throughout your stay. Most importantly, don’t hide this from the staff, they are there to help you and most camps will have a dedicated staff member who will be there to assist you with this.

How is the day structured?

Morning: For all camps the day will start with breakfast, and then you will begin your first activity for the day. This could be a language lesson, map work, art-work, water sports, building a camp fire – the list goes on and on! Each camp will have a different rota of activities and can let you know what a normal day at camp will be like. Afternoons: Normally, around 12pm you will all group back together from your activity group to have lunch, and then after lunch, you will go for your afternoon activity. Again, this activity will depend on the type of camp you go to. For example, if you had a French lesson in the morning, during the afternoon you may go to play sports, to mix the day up. Evenings: In the late afternoon we have free time, which allows the campers (and staff!) to relax before dinner. After dinner, you will have one more activity before bed, whether that’s a talent show or bonfire. Weekends are a little different, most camps will have this as their changeover period. So depending on when you have new campers to meet and get to know, this might change the activities slightly for that day. At Altitude, we encourage campers to help to choose an activity for the day at the weekend. Maybe you had a favourite place that you would like to revisit!

Will it feel like school?

When you come to camp, you are on holiday! So regardless of the programme you choose, your staff will always encourage you to learn through fun, whether that’s games or exciting activities. Most summer camps which are in an outdoor setting will encourage you to spend the entire time outside as long as the weather allows it! Even at our language camp we promote speaking as much as possible in comparison to writing and reading, this then allows the teachers to take the children outside to learn in fresh air. You’ve probably just finished a term at school when you come to camp so we know you’ve probably been inside a lot recently!

How do mealtimes work?

Every camp will provide 3 meals a day, and snacks too. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will tend to be served at your base camp or ‘mess hall’ as some camps like to call it. If you are lucky enough to have day excursions at your camp you may also have the opportunity of picnic lunches or BBQ’s – you haven’t really been to camp if you didn’t toast a marshmallow over a camp fire! All camps will make sure that you are sitting with the other children and that you are not sitting alone. This is your opportunity to meet new people so make the most of it! At Altitude, we are an international camp welcoming campers from all over the world with different first languages, so we make sure that English is the main language spoken around the table. This makes sure that all children feel involved and are not left out due to language barriers. To give you an idea we have lunch all together at our day camp chalet, here we provide a healthy and nutritious lunch served with a large variety of different options in a hot and cold buffet style. Like all camps, we cater to all dietary, medical and religious requirements.

Can I have my phone or iPad?

At Altitude, and as a general rule at most camps, we are a ‘no technology summer camp’. Before you panic – think again! We find this encourages children to be completely focussed on having FUN and making new friends. Therefore, not relying on or being distracted by social media/what’s happening on their phones.

Will I always be very active at camp or do we have time to relax?

Most camps including ours will have designated ‘free time’ each day. This is where you can switch off for a while, relax, phone home, write letters to your family, play games or catch up with the great book you’ve been reading. We understand that a day of camp can be very exciting and full on, so this time allows campers to rewind and reflect on their day. During free time at our camp we allow teenage children (13yo +) to go into town with a small group of their camp friends. We have strict procedures in place to allow for this and we also make sure we have the parent’s permission before camp to allow you to do this. This allows our eldest children to have more independence at camp.

Come and see for yourself!

Once you’ve chosen the destination and type of camp that you want to go to, you’ll soon find that as soon as you leave camp at the end of summer, you’ll be counting down the days till the start of the next year.