AboutRead about our values and the heart of Altitude in our About Altitude page or why not learn more about us in our team page? Our Verbier page has everything you need to know about the resort and what to do nearby.
Our CampsWe offer residential camps for 7-14 year olds as well as day camps for 3-14 year olds. For families, we offer accommodation options as well as bespoke family holiday itineraries.
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- Day Camps
- Activities & Excursions
- Family Adventures
Top 3 Luxury Summer Chalets in Verbier
With Ski Verbier Exclusive
Top 3 Luxury Summer Chalets with Ski Verbier ExclusiveIf you’re looking for luxury chalets in Verbier to base yourselves at whilst your children are enjoying a summer camp, our partners, Ski Verbier Exclusive, are one of the longest-standing chalet operators in Verbier. They have a selection of 11 luxury properties to offer from June – September with a catered and self-catered service package. Slip into summer relaxation with one of their top 3 picks for 2022: Rosalp 3 is a perfectly located, self-catered, three-bedroom luxury apartment. It offers a superb location and a beautiful private garden, being just 100m from the Médran lift station with the whole village right on your doorstep. Self-Catered Apartment Rosalp 3: From CHF7,500 per week Sleeps 4:4 Chalet Rock is fast becoming the most popular summer chalet, it’s a fantastic 5-bedroom freestanding chalet, set in beautiful wildflower meadows with stunning panoramic views towards the Mont Blanc Massive. It’s hard to imagine a better summer hideaway! Chalet Rock is available as a self-catered apartment with catering services on request. Self-Catered Chalet Chalet Rock: From CHF12,500 per week Sleeps 10 Chalet Nyumba is one of our most private, luxurious mountain hideaways, perched high on the Savoleyres side of the valley, nowhere in Verbier enjoys a more spectacular view. Chalet Nyumba boasts two hot tubs, a private pool, and panoramic views. Chalet Nyumba is available with a fully catered luxury service, with a chef, host and daily cleaning so you all you need to worry about is relaxing! Catered Chalet Chalet Nyumba: POA Sleeps 12 To find out more about the accommodation we offer check out our Family Accommodation. The Alps is the perfect European destination for a lakes and mountain family holiday, with majestic mountains, beautiful vineyard-laden valleys, green pastures and glacier-fed lakes, both big and small to explore. Verbier, a sunny mountain town in a south-facing bowl soaks up much of the summer sun, and faces the Grand Combin Massif, meaning you get to soak up beautiful views and mountain air each day, with fantastic hiking opportunities on your doorstep.
The perfect escapeSwitzerland is renowned for its beautiful, crystal clear mountain lakes, some of which are located at high altitude and can be accessed only by hiking or biking, others are accessible by car or located in towns and villages, and replace beaches for the Swiss and tourists alike. Many of the high altitude lakes are fed by glacial or mountain meltwater meaning they can stay very cold even into the summer months, which makes for a refreshing stop on a hike for a dip! There are many lakes designated for swimming and other water activities, especially the vast shores of Lake Geneva or Lac Leman as it is known in French.
Lake activitiesA relaxing day at the lake can be a highlight of the holiday, and best of all there’s no sand, saltwater or tides to worry about! Swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, pedalos or kayaking are just some of the popular activities on the shores of Lake Geneva. Our favourite areas to hang out closest to Verbier are in the town of Villeneuve; the outdoor pool here has an entrance fee which keeps crowd numbers lower, and there are diving boards to use, a snack bar, a pool for the younger ones and paddleboards to rent by the hour. Champex Lac is also a short and very scenic 45 minute drive away, a family-friendly lake in a small mountain resort, offering pedalos, rowing boats, and paddleboards, wonderful for cooling off on a hot day with some great restaurants for lunch.
Wakeboarding and surfingFor those looking for something a bit more special, watersports on the lake on offer include wakeboarding, wake surfing or water skiing. With a group or your family, you head out on the boat for a great experience, whether you’re an expert or it’s something you’ve never tried before! The companies have everything you need, just bring your camera and swimmers! The water is warm enough to not need wetsuits in the summer, but early or late in the season you can borrow these too.
Lake and Dam hikesWe don’t know about you, but there’s nothing better than a hike to a beautiful glacial lake, rewarded at the top by a dip to cool off and a couple of hours of swimming and picnicking before beginning your descent. It’s always best to check if swimming is possible at your destination lake, as some are in protected areas and others are dams with hydroelectric systems where it isn’t possible to swim, but the views are still well worth the trip. In Verbier, our most accessible mountain lake is Lac de Vaux, an uphill hike and relatively steep descent in part, it is best to allow for a 4 hour round trip including a stop off for photos, a picnic and a dip. Some of our other favourites include Mauvoisin Dam, Emosson Dam and Lac Taney (the hike up is pretty steep though a taxi service also runs up the road). The Swiss Alps in the summertime is a dream destination for a family mountain bike holidays, no matter what your level of experience. For those looking for the perfect base for a family bike holiday, whether you’re interested in road biking, e-biking or mountain biking, Verbier is a great option for the whole family.
Travelling with your bikeMany people choosing to visit Switzerland for a biking holiday may wish to bring their own bikes with them and choose to self-drive, which can be a good option when it comes to the extra luggage travelling with children. Switzerland is very accessible by road from most parts of mainland Europe including France, Northern Italy, Germany, Austria or the UK. If you prefer to fly, there are lots of bike rental services in town where you can hire road, mountain or e-bikes on arrival, and lighten the luggage load a little! Trains in Switzerland are very bike-friendly too, with areas to put your bike throughout the train, whether you’re arriving or jumping on a train during a biking trip. If you need a hand planning your train journey, www.SBB.ch is the Swiss train website with an excellent route planner, or just give us a shout and we’d be happy to help.
Try out eBikingA new sport that is just finding its feet as technology in e-bikes has really jumped ahead in recent years, the Alps is a terrific place to e-bike. Making the tough ascents much easier, e-bikes are available to hire during the summer in Verbier and a network of trails is ready to explore, from family friendly to day-long e-biking adventures. The ‘Tour du Mont Fort’ route is a fantastic one to try which begins and ends in Verbier and travels through La Tzoumas, Nendaz and Siviez before descending from the Gentianes areas of Verbier, one for the adults to try while the younger kids are in camp for the day! The e-biking festival is also hosted in Verbier every year, giving people the chance to test out different models for a set fee, and explore the nearby trails, or to see which ones suits your needs if you’re thinking of investing in your own model.
Mountain bikingOne of Verbier’s biggest summer draws is its bike park, open from the spring through until Autumn every year. Bikers come from near and far to explore the trails, ranging from blue tracks (easy/moderate) for beginners to red (advanced) and black (difficult/very difficult). The expanse of mountain roads and some pedestrian paths are also shared with bikers for those looking for endurance biking, or simply to explore the area on two wheels under your own steam. Bikes can be rented in Verbier, or you can bring your own and simply buy a lift pass for access. For those who are just starting out, are unfamiliar with the area or want to work on their skills, there are some brilliant mountain bike guides and coaches in town too for kids and adults.
Road bikingA very popular sport in Switzerland and Europe-wide, the Alps is perfect for long days in the saddle of a road bike. The surrounding mountain passes and well-kept roads make for a huge draw for road bikers. No need to be an expert though, as long as you can ride a bike there are some dedicated bike paths and flat stretches too for those simply wanting to get out and explore Switzerland’s beautiful landscape. Again, guides are available for those of all abilities. Some fantastic destinations can be reached by road bike from Verbier, even into nearby Italy and France, and you can soak up the incredible views and explore the vineyards, mountains, towns and villages in the process. Summer camps are a fantastic way for children and teenagers to spend the long summer holidays and provide a supervised programme away from home. Campers can learn new skills as well as building resilience, self-sufficiency and independence. It’s time to discover what summer camps in Europe are about! For over a century, summer camps have been a big part of summer culture in the United States, and in recent decades summer camps in Europe have become increasingly popular too, with more parents and children enjoying the huge benefits a summer at camp can provide.
What Makes A Good Summer Camp?There are so many summer camps in Europe to choose from, it can be hard to know which are the best camps, and to make a decision on where to send your child or teenager. You might be sending your child to camp for the first time, looking to send them to a different camp to have a new experience, or they may have outgrown their old camp. Trust If you are looking at a residential or overnight camp abroad, you may not even visit the country the camp is in, let alone the camp itself, so you want to have a great deal of trust that your child is in good hands. This starts from the booking process; make sure you’re able to ask any questions you have and feel reassured that you have good communication with the camp. Activities Take a look at what activities the camp offers, how these are structured and if there is a range that appeals to your child. The idea of most camps is that children will learn new skills from the activities and try something different, so it doesn’t always have to be things they’ve done before! Unless you’re looking specifically for an academic or summer school programme, try and stay away from things your child feels is too much like school. Activities should be interspersed with rest or down-time through the day to relax, have fun with new friends and give you a call or write a letter to let you know how they’re getting on! Experienced Staff It’s important to ensure that kids are well looked after, supervised and feel safe in order to make sure they get the most out of their camp experience. Staff should be experienced with children of the age group they’re working with, first aid qualified, and enthusiastic and motivated to work with children. Older children and teenagers, in particular, will often view their camp counsellors or activity leaders as role models, take advice from them and want to hang out and spend time with them, so a good camp has staff that feel the same. Fostering Independence & Responsibility The original idea behind summer camp was for children to develop self-sufficiency, independence and build confidence away from their traditional school and home environments. This is still an important part of all summer camps today, and a good camp should allow children to forge a strong sense of self, confidence in their abilities to adapt to new environments, try new things and make new friendships, the value of which can’t be overstated as they face challenges in growing older. Small things such as a sense of achievement on trying something new, helping clearing away at activities, taking responsibility for their own possessions, or choosing the best outfits for activities all form part of this.
Activities at Summer Camps in EuropeDepending on where in Europe the summer camp is based and what facilities the camp has will determine what activities are offered to the campers. Some camps will be city-based, some beach-based or some in the mountains or by a lake.
SportsCamps in Europe offer a variety of sports, with tennis, football, rugby, swimming, basketball, golf, volleyball, climbing, high ropes courses and biking all forming big parts of many camp programmes. Most camps will offer a programme on a rotational basis so children get to try new things, or some specialised camps may offer specific training to kids looking to build up their abilities in tennis for example.
…and more sports
Water sports are a big one for activity camps in Europe, and the warm summer months make for perfect weather for swimming, sailing, water-skiing or wakeboarding, kayaking, paddle-boarding or even learning to surf. If you’re after a camp that offers watersports, make sure it’s located by a lake or on the beach and that all activity leaders are fully qualified in their chosen activities.
Games & Outdoor ActivitiesActivities at adventure camps include those that many associate with camp, that are devised to get kids outdoors and into nature, fostering a love for the natural environment. Many European countries are very proud of their outdoors, and inspiring the next generation is part of their goal. Activities can include things like orienteering, hiking, ropes courses, climbing, mountain biking, canyoning, rafting, fire building and more.
Day trips, days out and time to explore are often great parts of a camp programme. For camps with large campuses, this may be reserved for older children going on expedition days, or trips to the local towns or cultural sports. For those in more central and accessible locations, visiting different locations is likely to be part of the every day camp programme, some locations nearby and some further afield.
Speciality CampsDon’t forget about speciality camps, especially if your child has a particular passion or hobby they’d like to improve and meet like-minded kids. This includes things like dance, technology camps such as space or robotics, music camps and more.
Learning A Language At CampLanguage camps for children, teenagers and even families are offered in most European countries, due to the diversity of the languages spoken on the continent. Visiting a country to learn the native language at a camp is a fantastic option for many kids, who may need to learn the language as preparation for a family move to a new country, for school or an upcoming university place, or simply to improve their skills.
Why Learn A Language At Camp?Visiting a country to learn that language, visit famous sites, learn about the food and culture as well as interacting with locals can be an inspiring and motivational way to learn a new language. Students also have the opportunity of experiential learning, speaking to native speakers, learning their language by interacting with other children in their new language or using it in shops and everyday life in the country they are visiting.
Types Of Language CampLanguage camps often offer different programmes. This can differ from camps with language classes in the morning, and activities in the afternoon, right through to intensive language camps. There may be options within the camp of how many hours of language lessons to sign up to, or this may be fixed for each camp. A language programme is recommended especially if your child has no experience in a language, as full immersion may be a bit intimidating and trickier for camp staff to manage, especially with older children. Interspersed with fun more traditional summer camp activities such as sports, games, and free-time with friends, a language camp can be a fantastic option for many children.
Intensive Language CampsSome camps may offer intensive language training, mainly for older children and teens, which focus on language training, again, often combined with language immersion. This is often best suited to those going through exams at school or college in that language who want focused language tuition rather than a summer camp experience. These camps are likely still to offer some activities or trips, but don’t have a focus on more ‘traditional’ summer camp activities.
Language Immersion CampsTo have an immersive language experience, your child may not even need to attend a camp with a specific language programme. Have a look at the language the camp is run in and the language the staff will be speaking. You may decide you want to send your child to a summer camp without specific language classes but instead run in the language they need to learn or improve, where they can learn a language by assimilation and experiential learning. Europe is the perfect place to do this, as camps are often run in the native language of the country, and international camps are often run in English.
Best European Countries For Summer CampsEvery country has something different to offer, so to narrow your search we’ve put a few of our favourite countries and regions below.
Famously mountainous Switzerland is a huge draw for visitors year round! Adventure camps here get to make the most of the mountains, glacial lakes and incredible landscape. Ideal for language camps, Switzerland counts amongst its national languages French, German, Italian, Romansch as well as English being widely spoken in the international community. Its accommodation and food standards are very high due to the clients it caters for.
Our favourite region: Valais for its incredible mountain resorts, and Vaud for it’s amazing lake-side beaches and water sports.
FranceFrance has it all, from coastal regions to famous cities. It’s a great option for those looking to learn French, and is filled with culture, great beaches and famous landmarks. It can be a cheaper alternative to some other countries, still with the amazing alpine regions, and love for the outdoor European lifestyle. Our favourite region: Paris is a bit hot for us in summer, so we prefer the Cote d’Azur for its great beaches and summer glamour, or Biarritz for language and surf camps.
An obvious choice for those looking to improve their German skills, but the country also has its share of adventure camps too. There tends to be less choice of camps in Germany, as it hasn’t risen in popularity in the same way as other camps in Europe, but there are still some great adventure and language camps to choose from.
Our favourite region: Bavarian forest for outdoor adventure and wilderness exploration.
Very popular amongst locals for day camps, and for those abroad for the famous cities of Oxford and London for learning English! There are also some great activity camps scattered across the country, but the weather is a bit less dependable than most of Europe in the summer! Accommodation is often a bit more basic when looking at residential facilities, but this varies between companies.
Our favourite region: Oxford for incredible architecture and history and world-class English camps, or Cornwall for its incredible ice-cream, beaches and cliff-top landscapes.
SpainMore popular for language courses, and camps with watersports, Spain can get pretty hot in the summer months! A lot of the language camps are city-based, meaning less outdoors available to kids and ‘real camp’ feeling, but food and immersion into the wonderful Spanish culture are unparalleled elsewhere for Spanish learners, and camps offer great value. Our favourite region: beach and adventure camps in Puerto de Santa María for a mix of languages, sun and sea!
What is a Summer Camp?Summer camps are a fantastic way for children and teenagers to spend the long summer holidays and provide a supervised programme away from home where campers can learn new skills as well as building residence, self-sufficiency and independence. For over a century camps have been a big part of summer culture in the North America, and in recent decades they have become increasingly popular in Europe and Asia too, with more parents and children enjoying the huge benefits a summer at camp can provide.
Are all summer camps ‘sleepaway’ camps?Residential, sleepaway or overnight camps are usually what people imagine when they think of summer camps, an exciting summer away from home for the kids, perhaps even in another state or country. Usually, residential camp options begin from the age of 6 or 7, and camps accept participants all the way up to age 17 and beyond, depending on the camp you are looking at. Some camps also offer day programmes, so children can enjoy camp but still spend time with their parents in the evening. This may be a good option for parents who want to make the most of school holiday time with their children but are working during the day, those who are considering camp to provide extra activities for their children during a family holiday, or for those with younger children who may not yet be old enough for overnight camp.
What will my child do at camp?Generally, camps offer a mix of sports, activities, crafts and day trips for campers. Often summer camps have an outdoor focus, and encourage children to stay active, outdoors and try new activities they may not have had the chance to before. The idea of a summer camp has diversified over the years and some camps now specialise in certain activities; for example some camps are more academic-focused and include language programmes, summer school, technology or science programmes, or some may offer training in specific sports such a tennis or football camp. Other camps especially for older children may be based in the wilderness and teach older teens outdoor survival techniques, build their own camp and develop orienteering skills. Whichever camp you choose for your child, they all have the goal of allowing children and young people to learn new skills outside of home or school, alongside their peers, and explore who they are in a supportive and safe environment.
How do I choose a summer campThere are many options available for those looking to send their child to a summer camp, in countries all over the world, so it can be hard to know which option to choose for your child. What makes a good summer camp experience can depend a lot on your own specifications for camp, including the locations you are looking at, the activities, and the goals of summer camp for your child.
Where should I send my child to summer camp?Firstly, you may want to take a look at the location of the camp. There are camps available in many countries around the world, with the biggest concentration in Europe, America and Canada. You may want to choose one close to home, or a camp in a country you will be visiting as a family that summer, and incorporate the camp as part of that trip.
City, beach, lake or mountains?Once you know where you want to send your child, take a closer look at whereabouts the camp is based; some camps are more accessible, located in or near a town or city for example, or some are located in more rural environments, in the mountains or by a lake for example. Camps range from having a permanent purpose built campus where all activities will take place, to having a base and activities taking place in and around the local area, so take a look at the camp set up and decide what works best for you.
What type of summer camp should I choose?The biggest part of choosing a summer camp is the programme and activities! Camps offer many different programmes as we have mentioned, so this will play a major role in choosing the best camp for your child. You may want to send your child to a camp offering lots of outdoor adventure activities, especially if you usually live in the city, and find it hard to prise them away from their phone or tablet during term time. You may look at a programme which includes things your child loves to do, or conversely things they haven’t tried before to enable them to broaden their horizons. Specialised camps may be an option for you if they have a particular sporting talent, or if your child plays an instrument or you are wanting them to improve their language skills.
What else should I look for in a good summer camp?Once you’ve worked out what kind of camp you would like to send your child to and where, there are a few things you can look out for in a good camp.
Learn more about the staffOne important thing to look for is the staff to camper ratios. You want to make sure camps have small groups, and that while children are encouraged to be independent, there is always someone there to supervise them or for them to seek advice or help from. Other things to look for are that the staff are all first aid qualified, that they have experience working with children, how old they are and also be important to you if they have specific qualifications in the activities they are teaching.
Where will your child be sleeping?Take a look at the accommodation too; camps range from traditional ‘american style’ cabins offering bunks with outhouse style facilities, to more modern cabins, large dormitories, or higher end accommodation in boarding school buildings. Does this meet your expectations for camp? What are the food options, are these healthy with enough options for your child, and catering to any dietary requirements or allergies?
Free time is important too!How much free time is built into the camp programme? This is an important part of summer camp, especially residential camps, where kids get to bond with their new friends and relax and unwind, often the best memories are made at these times! Make sure free time is included in the camp programme. If your child is older, you can sit down and discuss the options with them, so you are both comfortable that you are choosing the best camp option for you.
Why consider International Summer Camps?
What is an international summer camp?International camps differentiate themselves from summer camps designed for children local to the area, as they attract children from all over the world and create an international environment. Each camp session will have children and young people of different nationalities, different religions and different mother tongues, who in their normal day-to-day lives would not have the opportunity to meet and forge new friendships. This brings new benefits over other camps who are targeting those who live nearby, where campers will usually be from the same country or state, or even the same city and schools.
What advantages do international camps have?There are huge advantages to international camps if your goal is to improve your child’s language skills. English is often used as the main language, so camp will offer an immersive experience in the English language, or you may choose to choose a camp in a country where it has a language course in one of the national languages. They will also be fully immersed into that country and culture, which can be a hugely beneficial and motivating experience when learning a language.
Who goes to an international summer camp?Everyone! At an international camp, campers will make friends with others from a mix of backgrounds and cultures, and in doing so will expand their horizons. If they go to an international school or boarding school this may be a familiar situation to them already, but as children are visiting camp for a much shorter period, they have even more diversity. International camps can often have the advantage that children are coming from all over the world, and therefore there aren’t big groups of friends who already know each other, and it can be easier to integrate and make friends.
What do International Summer Camps Do?Many international summer camps have a focus on language, as that can be a big draw to sending your child abroad for their summer adventures. In Europe, international language camps will offer courses in English, French, Spanish, German or Italian amongst others. At Altitude, we offer language courses in both English and French, as well as a mountain adventure programme where students can experience activities delivered in English but without the formal language lessons. Depending on where they are based, summer camps may differ in terms of the activities they offer, for instance they may be based in the mountains, by a lake, or on a beach! Every camp will have a different range of programmes and activities, but many involve adventure activities, sports, cultural visits and trips as well as arts, music and drama.
Best International Summer CampsWe’ve taken a look at some of the best international summer camps, based on some of the criteria you may have when choosing a camp for your child. Best international camp for first-time campers What to look for: Camps which have lots of new campers each year, smaller camps, and small camper to staff ratios with experienced staff where you know your child will receive lots of attention and support. You may want to choose a camp closer to home, or a day camp if your child is younger and you want to be on hand. Our suggestions: Altitude International Summer Camps in Verbier, Switzerland, our own camp, is great for first-time campers, as camp sessions are small with a maximum of 50 campers, and offer a flexible programme where campers can come for the day only to experience camp for the first time, and maybe join the residential programme next year!
Best camp for older teensWhat to look for: A camp with a programme specifically for children of their age group eg.15-17 years, activities that interest your teen, camps that encourage independence, leadership, self-sufficiency. Camps that only accept older teens can be better if it’s your teen’s first time joining that camp, as they tend to avoid cliques and friendship groups if kids have been attending the same camp for a long time. Our suggestions: Global Youth Village : Run as a not-for-profit agency and based in the beautiful blue ridge mountains in Virginia, this camp is for those aged 15-19 who want to learn how to change the world. Their camp offers a programme of learning about leadership, community responsibility and sustainable development issues. Teen Camp based in the state of Maine in the USA, this camp invites only teenagers aged 13-17,and has a big international cohort of campers too at around 30%. It offers a programme, actiities and schedule specifically designed for teens. Best adventure abroad camps What to look for: For those looking for a real adventure or holiday, camps can offer this too! These will likely appeal to more adventurous older children and teens, but look for those with a well established programme and experience operating in the countries they are in to make sure the programme will run smoothly. Our suggestions: The Road Less Travelled: there’s some serious adventure packed into the programmes offered by this company, in exciting locations all over the world from the Ecuador to Norway to Tanzania, for active, adventure seeking teens. Active Travel : Based in France, Active Travel Camp is essentially a holiday for teens aged 11-16, visiting three different locations over three weeks. Places are limited to only 45 per session, so sign up early!
Best first camp for younger children (3-5 years)What to look for: A camp with a programme adapted for younger children, shorter days for those under 5 years, camps that splits children by age and ability level, experienced counsellors. Our suggestions: Altitude Camps ‘marmot’ programme offers a half day specialised programme for those aged 3-5 years, and a day camp only option for those age 6 years before they can join the residential camp. The International Montessori school offer a great programme of summer camps for young children in the UK, with different themed for each week, open to all children whether they are attending an international Montessori school or not. Best camp for learning languages & speciality camps What to look for: Depending on the age of your child you might be looking for different things; for younger children with some experience of the language, doing an activity or adventure camp and being fully immersed in the language with no formal lessons can be the best way! For older children wanting to work on their language skills, an immersive language camp including formal lessons so they can also practice their writing and reading is usually best. Our suggestions: Alpadia offer language camps all over Europe for ages 8-17 years, learning French, English, and German. Language lessons are 20 hours per week, plus other activities in the afternoons such as swimming, games or sports. Village Camps offer a huge selection of specialised camp programmes including those specialised for languages, performing arts, sports leadership. Offerings depend on country, age and programme, but they are based in Europe and Canada. Each summer, thousands of new and returning staff set out to far flung corners of the world to work on summer camps during the long summer holidays. So what are the benefits of working at a summer camp? If you’re thinking about working on a camp for the first time, or perhaps you’re thinking of applying to work on our camp in Verbier, you might be wondering what camp life is really like for staff. We caught up with one of our own camp activity leaders Caitlin who works on our international camps in Verbier, to ask what she thought were the biggest pros of working for a summer camp. Over to Caitlin, for her top 10 reasons to work at summer camp!
1 – There is never a dull moment!The enthusiasm we see from our campers fuels us for the day! At summer camps, campers are offered an amazing range of different activities, day trips and evening programmes, some of which may include activities or games even you may not have tried before training week. The children are never bored, and you are also joining in with doing different activities each day with them, so neither are you! You also may find you become very passionate about the activities. For me, I take our 3 to 5-year-old campers pond dipping which they absolutely love. It doesn’t feel like work to me. You’ll need to bring with you lots of enthusiasm and energy, though!
2 – A unique working environment‘Step into my office’ is what you could be saying whilst accompanying your campers at the ropes course, building a campfire and toasting marshmallows, trying to see who can catch the biggest frog at the pond, watching the pure excitement on your campers faces as they reach the top of the climbing wall, or challenging your campers to a game of mini golf. The list goes on. Not everyone can say that about their day at the office!
3 – All camps are different, so there’s one to suit everyone!Depending on the camp you work at, it may be big, small, or somewhere in between. I worked in a camp in Canada where we had hundreds of campers and therefore over a hundred members of staff. There are many camps around the world that are set up like this; they have a main campus, often attached to a lake, and will do all of their activities on their campus with all staff and campers living on-site. A lot of the staff were previously campers too, but they all tend to have a group of new staff from abroad as well each year. This is a great way to really understand the summer camp community as you are around people with so much experience that you end up taking a lot away as well as meeting lots of new people. It can also be a great opportunity to find people to travel with after camp has finished for summer. At Altitude, we will only have a maximum of 50 children at camp therefore you grow strong relationships with not only the rest of the team but your campers too. We find this benefits not only our campers, but also our staff, and our returning staff numbers are very high. Right from the start we already know everyone’s strengths and who the best people are to run certain programmes, or manage evening activities. We don’t have a campus, but instead do our activities in Verbier and have day trips to the surrounding area, so you will also be getting out and exploring the Swiss Alps along with your campers. Every camp is different so check out their set-up, their programme and whether it’s live in or out, so you know what is expected of you.
4 – Work in incredible locations around the worldAdventure summer camps are a break from the city lifestyle for many children and so often camps tend to have their bases close to rural areas. There are summer camps all over the world, and working as a camp counsellor or activity leader can take you to so many different places and you can use these opportunities to earn some money and explore that bucket list country you’ve always wanted to go to! We are incredibly lucky with our location at Altitude Summer Camps, we are located in the wonderful mountain resort of Verbier, Switzerland, nestled in a sunny region of the Swiss Alps. Our camp is based in a quiet neighbourhood called Patier, walking distance to both town and the mountain forest. There are numerous benefits to us being based here, and the adventures can begin right on our doorstep!
5 – Build on your teaching skills and experience at campIt’s a good idea to research the kind of camp you want to work at based on what you bring to the table. For example if you want to go to a water sports camp because this is where your skills and qualifications lie, then you would be looking for one that has access to lakes and offers activities like kayaking or water skiing. If you want to teach at a music camp, then you need to find a specific camp offering these activities. You can find camps focussing on mountain adventure, arts and crafts, language skills, religious camps, the list goes on. If there is a skill you want to focus on then research it!
6 – You’ll learn something new every dayWorking at a summer camp may only last during the summer months but the skills that you gain last a lifetime! There are opportunities to learn about your camper’s culture, maybe they’ll teach you a couple of words in their home language or you’ll learn a new skill through the activities that camp offers. You always tend to walk away from camp having learnt almost as much as the campers themselves!
7 – Build incredible leadership skillsWhether your camper is a residential or day camper we (the staff) effectively take sole care for the children at camp. You’ll soon learn that your campers will lean on you for guidance, advice and mentorship. So naturally your leadership skills will grow.
8 – You’ll become adaptableNot every group of children will be the same! Every group will have different interests, hobbies and personalities therefore you can adapt the programme and make each activity yours to match the campers that you have. Being adaptable to the group that you have will guarantee that your campers have a memorable experience. With new staff come new ideas, and we are always open to hear how you think you could add variety to our activities. For example – maybe you have a different idea on how we can deliver our building campfires session, or new campfire recipes we can try with the campers.
9 – Explore your hidden talentsDue to most camps being able to offer such a large variety of different activities there is an opportunity for you to explore new activities which you may find you love! Our programmes are on a 2-week rotation so every day is a new activity – we can’t wait to see your talents.
10 – You’ll feel privilegedWherever you choose to work in the world, we are very lucky to be in an outdoor environment. You can learn so much from your experiences and you can take so much away from it. At Altitude, we are a group of companies, the main two being our winter ski school and our summer camps. I personally work for both, and can say that it’s a great opportunity to link the campers I am with every summer to the children I teach in winter! After many years of the same children, we have built up a great relationship, it’s quite special! It also allows you to work in this environment for the same company year-round, so you end up having a long-lasting group of friends which in this situation can be quite rare! These are only some of the many benefits there are to working at a summer camp and we would love to welcome you so that you can see for yourself! If you’re interested in applying to work at summer camp, send through your CV and a covering letter to email@example.com. Due to permit conditions, we can only accept applications from those with a valid Swiss work permit or a Swiss or EU passport (this now excludes UK residents). Applicants must speak English as this is the working language of the camp. We accept applications for activity leaders, qualified English teachers or qualified French teachers.
Healthy snacks to make with kidsIn a previous blog we explored many ways of encouraging healthy eating in your children, and involving children in the food preparation process as well as having kid-friendly healthy snacks on hand can be an important way of discouraging binging on biscuits, sweets or crisps when hungry. Whether it’s just as an after-school snack, or for an upcoming kids party, here are a few of our favourite healthy snack recipes for making with your kids!
Octopus HoumousKids eat with their eyes just like we do, so this fun and healthy dip can be a great way to get some veg into your kids with no complaints! You will need: one bell pepper, houmous (shop bought or home-made) and one olive!
- Take a bell pepper (any colour you like as octopuses come in all shapes and sizes!) and cut off the top 1/3 of the pepper. De-seed the bottom 2/3rds and put to one side.
- Chop the top of the pepper into strips to make the ‘tentacles’!
- Spread houmous – shop bought or home-made – into a shallow bowl.
- Place the bottom half of the pepper in the houmous to make the body of the octopus, and use 8 of the pepper strips around the outside to form the tentacles.
- Chop the olive into round slices and stick two to the pepper with a little houmous to make the eyes! Kids love doing this bit too.
Avocado BoatAnother way to make a heathy food appeal to your kids! You will need: tortilla chips, one avocado, a wooden skewer and small piece of paper, half a lemon, and some sour cream.
- Half the avocado and take out the stone. Spoon out the avocado from the skin and put in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream, and squeeze in some lemon juice.
- Mash the avocado, sour cream and lemon juice together to form the dip
- Use the skewer and piece of paper to make the sail for your boat. A great tip is to let your kids decorate this while you are busy making the dip!
- Surround with a ‘sea’ of tortilla chips, and a lego pirate or two if you have any handy!
Cucumber SandwichesA super quick one, and a great way of getting more veg into your kids! This idea uses cucumbers as the ‘bread’ of mini sandwiches, and are fun for kids to assemble however they want them too! You will need: a cucumber, fillings of choice: eg. slices of cheese, soft cheese, ham, slices of tomatoes
- Slice cucumber into slices a few mm thick.
- Use a cookie cutter, or just a knife if you don’t have one to hand, to make slices of the fillings such as cheese and ham a similar size to the cucumber. If you’re feeling brave you could use tuna mayo!
- Assemble your sandwiches! Soft cheese is a great way to make the layers stick together too.
10 questions to ask your child after summer campEver wondered what questions to ask your child after summer camp? Camp can be an exciting time for children and all campers, especially those on residential programmes, often find a new level of independence. Whether your camper is about to start their first day camp or is an old-hand at residential camp already, they are experiencing a world that is quite different to their normal lives at home or the familiarity of school. Your child will have experienced a lot over the camp session, from participating in new activities, exploring new places and learning life lessons about cooperation and friendship. They will have absorbed so much that when they see you again, sometimes it’s difficult for them to know when to start in telling you everything! Here are a few questions you can ask your camper to get the conversation flowing and learn a bit more about their camp experiences.
- What was your favourite activity at camp this summer?
- What activity did you try for the first time at camp that you would like to do again?
- Tell me about your favourite staff member, why were they your favourite?
- Tell me about 2 new friends that you made at camp?
- How are you going to keep in touch with your camp friends from this summer?
- What did you do this week to help someone else out?
- Where did you go on your excursion day each week?
- What was your favourite food at camp, did you try anything we don’t have at home?
- When did you feel most proud of yourself at camp this week?
- What was your favourite game at camp and can you teach me how to play it?
Who can I expect to meet at a day camp?Here at Altitude, we are based in the mountains so as well as local Swiss kids, we also welcome expats and tourists. This makes for a very international environment, with many nationalities, cultures and religions each week, a great experience for children!
What do I do at camp and what are the classes like, will it feel like school?Summer camp shouldn’t be too focused on the academic side as its main agenda. Summer camp should give kids a feeling of escapism, a new environment, a sense of fun, and a way of discovering new exciting activities. If a camp promises you that your kids will excel in say their language skills within one week, it’s likely going to feel like school and may not be what you are after so just bear that in mind! Here at our summer day camps, we aim to provide a fun and positive environment where kids can meet others from around the world, experience the mountain environment, get out in the fresh air and enjoy a sense of challenge and achievement. We very much focus on encouraging children to gain confidence, independence and to learn leadership and teamwork skills as part of their experience. All whilst having fun! Whether children choose our adventure camp or language camp, the aim is to learn through fun and play, to stimulate their minds, and to make them feel that they WANT to learn without even realising that they already are. We are as active as we can be with our mountain adventure camp being run outdoors every day, (so long as the weather is dry) and even our language camps focus on conversation as much as possible, to ensure the kids don’t feel like they are writing and reading too much. We even spend some sessions outdoors in the fresh air with our language campers, just to teach the kids in a different way and to avoid that school like feeling. Likewise, language lessons are always only in the morning, the afternoons are always spent enjoying sports and excursions so that kids can get a mix of language learning as well as being in the outdoors and keeping active.
What activities will I do?Our campers will all enjoy a mix of sports and excursions including activities such as tennis, swimming, ropes courses, crazy golf, climbing, hiking, hockey, football and more! Language campers will then also develop language skills whilst our mountain adventure campers will also take part in activities such as fire building, raft building, rocket making, orienteering, shelter building and survival skills. You can find out more about our activities available here.
How is each day structured?On a Monday morning, we welcome everyone to camp, double-checking their dietary/medical needs, camp choices and emergency contact details as they check in. Our team will give a short welcome talk before we head off for morning activities. For our language campers, they will head off with their language teachers for their first session which runs from 9am-12, with a short break in the middle. Our mountain adventure and marmot campers will head with their teachers, for their first activity of the week, often involving some ice breaker games to get to know everyone. At 12pm, all of our campers will head back to base for lunchtime and then come 1pm, our marmot campers will head home and our mountain adventure and language campers will enjoy sports and excursions until 4pm when they go home.
How do meal times work?Our summer camps run Monday to Friday from 9am-4pm and we include a nutritious and freshly prepared lunch every day, this takes place between 12pm-1pm and campers will all meet together at our base for this. Our team of chefs provide fantastic meals with hot and cold options available, all in a buffet-style providing children with a choice of healthy food each day, catering to all dietary, medical, and religious requirements. On a Wednesday, children will take an excursion so on this day, they will take a packed lunch with them and we will prepare this freshly that morning. There has been a great deal of recent scientific and media interest in the relationship between children and the natural environment, with fears that the increasing use of technology and a generational change in the attitudes toward outdoor play have led to a severe disconnect between our children and the great outdoors. We explore some of the most recent evidence on the subject, and how important getting out and into nature really is to your child or teenager.
So, what are the facts?In a recent article, The Guardian published that on average, three-quarters of UK children are now spending less than an hour playing outdoors each day, based on an independent study by Persil’s ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign. The UK is not alone in this however, with other countries across the world showing similar trends, and studies in the USA also releasing figures that their children are now spending an average of 7 hours 40 minutes ‘screentime’ per day. The UK Government have expressed their ambitions ‘for every child to be able to experience and learn in the natural environment’. As part of research toward accomplishing this target, a 2-year pilot study released in 2016 found 12% of children in England had not visited a natural environment over the last year, and far less visit more than once a week. Only 8% of children visited with their school, and 22% visited without adult supervision. These results indicate that the responsibility now lies with parents to make sure they are getting their kids outdoors, indicating a generational shift from 30 years ago when children used to play outside with friends, exploring parks, woodlands or the countryside with little or no adult supervision. The result of this increasing disconnect from outdoor environments has lead to a disconnect from nature itself. In 2013, the RSPB published a three-year study, which concluded that 80% of children are not adequately connected to nature. Whether children were living in urban or rural environments seemed to have little impact on the figures, and in fact children in London were more connected to nature than those living in Wales.
Should we be concerned?So, why are the government and other organisations so worried about children spending less time outdoors? The reality is that nature is seen to have such great advantages to overall health and well-being, that the term ‘nature defecit disorder’ has actually been coined by Richard Louv in his book ‘The Last Child in the Woods’, a book which outlines some of the major benefits for children to have a strong connection with nature. It has been established that spending time in natural environments is something required not only for a child’s mental health and wellbeing, but also their physical and physiological development, and deprivation of these environments is causing development issues in the younger generation.
“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives” – Thomas BerryWe took a look at the findings of the latest research into the benefits of nature, to see why nature really is so important to children in more ways than one:
Nature contributes to the development of children’s sensory systemsFrom the tactile experience of squelching through mud to developing spatial awareness from hearing birdsong in the trees around them, nature leads to the development of children’s sensory systems, and the development of their core strength, coordination and balance. In fact, nature is so important to this aspect of development that deprivation of exposure to natural environments can actually cause sensory development issues, such as a decreased tolerance to touch, noise, and temperature.
Time spent in natural environments can help prevent behavioural issues in childrenIt has been shown that restricted movement throughout the day, and not enough active play leads to poor development of the middle ear complex, which leads to these balance problems and reduces the brains ability to use the ears and eyes efficiently. As a result, children will find it near impossible to learn, and to concentrate for periods of time. It is even believed that this may be leading to the increase in ADHD amongst children, and that literally prescribing time to be spent outdoors in natural environments could be a solution to treating the condition drug-free.
Nature stimulates intellectual development and a love and empathy with the natural worldIntroducing children to nature at a young age leads to a greater understanding and responsibility for the natural world. Stephen R. Kellert, School of Forestry and environmental studies at Yale University has stated that ages 6-12 is a time when children are most likely to be interested in and understand the natural world. “Intellectual development at this stage is especially facilitated by direct contact with nearby natural settings, where a world of exploration, imagination and discovery becomes increasingly evident to the child”. In a world where climate change, environmental disasters, widespread habitat destruction and what could be the 6th major extinction event the planet has ever seen threaten our planet as we know it, instilling a love and connection to nature in our children could be the most important gift we give to their generation to enable them to protect our earth and their future.
Activities outdoors lead to the improvements of key skills such as confidence and decision makingA meta-analysis of data from 96 studies has shown that children who spend time taking part in outdoor adventure programmes also show significant improvements in independence, confidence, self-efficacy, self-understanding, assertiveness, internal locus of control and decision making as a result.
Natural environments teach risk managementNature provides a playground in which children can be active, explore and learn. Letting children experience more risky activities outdoors, such as adventurous play equipment or something as simple as climbing a tree, has been shown to be important to the development of risk management for a child, helping them manage their own decision making processes and learn about risk and reward as well as teaching perseverance and resilience.
Your child and natureThe combination of modern day technology, an increased social pressure for parental supervision and extra-curricular activities, and with children in school for approximately 8 hours a day, there is now a responsibility for parents to ensure that nature is something they incorporate into their children’s childhood. After school is a great time to be able to make use of local rural environments and parks, and the school holidays is a great time for children to experience nature may be further away from their homes.
Summer camps can help grow your children’s love for natureSummer camps can provide the perfect experience for children to explore outdoors, with supervision by staff who are both trained and responsible for your child’s wellbeing but also don’t represent parental figures, so children have more independence and an opportunity to explore themselves. When choosing a summer camp programme for your child, we would recommend finding a programme that provides a significant amount of outdoor activities each day. If you opt for an academic-based programme, make sure that either the mornings or afternoons are dedicated to sports, excursions, or other forms of outdoor exercise. Alternatively, outdoor-based learning and adventure programmes are perfect for helping children and teenagers to learn new skills, stay active and learn an appreciation and connection with their natural environment. A camp set in a safe, rural environment is an ideal option to ensure children experience the outdoors even when taking parts in sports and other activities, and gives young children the freedom to explore and play in an outdoor environment which may not be possible at home. Unstructured play is also often a very important component that is often overlooked. Children need ideally at least an hour if not more of unstructured play each day in order to practice social and play skills, use their imagination and challenge their bodies. This is usually represented by ‘free time’ at camp, so make sure that you don’t overlook the importance of this time when looking at a camp programme. References and further reading http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/25/three-quarters-of-uk-children-spend-less-time-outdoors-than-prison-inmates-survey https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/498944/mene-childrens-report-years-1-2.pdf http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-klasky/our-children-deserve-as-m_b_4791244.html https://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/connecting-with-nature_tcm9-354603.pdf http://www.childrenandnature.org/2016/04/11/release-of-vitamin-n-the-essential-guide-to-a-nature-rich-life/ http://www.englishoutdoorcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/Change.pdf http://www.growinghandsonkids.com/vestibular-system-affects-childs-behavior.html http://www.ourkids.net/kids-need-nature.php
Family Accommodation in VerbierWhen joining Altitude Camps for the summer, we not only help you to select the right camp for your child(ren) but we also offer assistance in booking all of your airport transfers, additional activities for you as parents as well as your accommodation. If you are visiting for the first time or perhaps just don’t know the village that well then don’t worry, we know it extremely well and are very happy to help. From somewhere close to the biggest supermarket, to being nearby to the sports centre all the way to knowing which chalet is closest to camp or which has a private pool, we’ve got all the knowledge you need. Whatever your requirements may be, rest assured that we can provide something to suit you and your family. The range of properties available in Verbier in the summer is vast too, providing you with many different options to think about. We can book simple self-catered apartments allowing you to cook for yourselves or to take advantage of the numerous restaurants and local cuisine available or if you prefer something a little more luxury, we can find some beautiful apartments for you on either a catered or self-catered basis. Likewise if you’d like the full stand alone chalet, private cinema, wine cellar, swimming pool etc, there are a great range of properties available, a lot of which we’ve been in ourselves so can happily advise you on their location, suitability and more. Some of our favourite options amongst clients are featured below:
Verbier HotelsIf you prefer the hotel option, there are some fantastic options in Verbier from the 5* contemporary style W Hotel, to the traditional Swiss style Hotel Cordee, a 4* superior hotel located right in the centre of town. At the W hotel, you are located right at the lift station, you have the Verbier “beach”, indoor/outdoor pool, spa, restaurants and fantastic design. The Cordee has one of our favourite restaurants with a beautiful spa area, probably the nicest in Verbier. It also oozes Alpine chic with a traditional mountain feel. We also love the Hotel Vanessa, a family hotel located in town with a bright family style design. All of these hotels have a shuttle service too making it easy for you to get the kids to and from camp each day if you don’t fancy the walk. If you’d like any assistance in booking your accommodation, please feel free to contact us and let us know your dates, requirements and number of people travelling and we’ll send you some options to look through. Once you’ve booked your summer camp, it’s time to start the exciting countdown and for your children to get excited about their upcoming adventure! You’ll have no doubt organised travel to and from the camp, bought travel insurance and planned and booked all of their activities so now all that is left to do is to pack for summer camp! When sending your children to a new country for camp, or even a new location in your own country, it is important to remember that the weather may be quite different to where you live normally. It is worth checking the upcoming weather forecast but also looking at the locations average temperatures over the last few years as something to base your clothing items on. Here in Verbier, we are in the mountains and that can mean hot days of beautiful sunshine but it can also mean snow, sometimes all on the same day! If the children are in the village and then head up the mountain it can change by more than 5 degrees so we always ensure that kids have backpacks with additional layers when we head out and about. This list below is an accurate reflection of what the “average” camper needs and uses during a 2-week Altitude Summer Camp. If a child is participating in the mountain adventure camp it may be worth investing in appropriate outdoor equipment, such as some good hiking shoes. Please also remember to apply name tags to clothing so that items can be returned to you if they get forgotten and left at camp. – 14 x underwear – 2 x pyjamas or nightwear – 3 x shorts – 3 x trousers (1 pair of jeans is ok but 2 pairs need to be able to be used for sport) – 14 x t shirts – 5 x jumpers – 1 x sweat top and bottoms – 1 x raincoat – 1 x backpack – 1 x water bottle – 1 x sun hat – 1 x sunscreen – 1 x sunglasses – 2 x swimwear (including 1 full swimming costume for girls) – 2 x towels – (1 for the pool and 1 for showering) – 1 x flip flops – 1 x trainers – Toiletry Bag (including toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel etc.) – Laundry Bag Please remember: Don’t bring any unnecessary valuables.
Camp is all about having fun, so the best thing to do is pack clothes and equipment that allow your kids to do just that. It’s better to pack clothes that are appropriate for activities and not too expensive, as activities can be outdoors in all weather and may involve getting wet, muddy, or even having a snowball fight in the middle of summer! Make sure that you pack clothes you are happy for your child to play sports in, and that can get wet or muddy. Valuables, jewellery or anything that needs to be kept safe are best left at home.If you bring phones, cameras, computers, iPods or musical instruments, you will be responsible for any loss or damage. If you have any questions about what to pack for summer camp then please don’t hesitate to contact us. Hiking with young children – tips and tricks from our camp activity staff! Hiking is a great summer activity in the Alps, and there’s no better way to enjoy the spectacular mountain views and serene landscape of the mountains in and around Verbier than exploring some of the trails this beautiful area has to offer. Many trails are family-friendly and hiking can be a great way to spend time together, however, for families with young children, it can be a challenge to keep them both interested and motivated so that everyone can enjoy the hike. For young children, a great tip is to make sure that you take your hike at a time of day when they won’t be tired! If you have very young children who will be in a baby backpack, then you may want to go over nap-time so they fall asleep, but for older children make sure your day trip allows time for their usual periods of sleep so they aren’t cranky and tired, and can fall asleep in the car on the way home. Play games along the trail. This is a great way to keep children motivated and make the activity fun for them as well. Games such as ‘I spy’ are easy and can be played anywhere, and get children interested in looking at their surroundings as well. Another favourite at camp is ‘lava’; perfect for woody paths in the woods, children have to move along without touching the lava, stepping on rocks and tree branches instead. Scavenger hunts can also be a great option for younger children on a hike, and although it won’t necessarily get them moving in one direction very quickly, it will help them explore their environment. This doesn’t have to be complicated or planned in advance, but finding simple things like pine cones, 3 different shaped leaves, a smooth stone, and a rough stone, a feather; these can all be simple things and adapted to where you are walking, to keep kids looking and moving forward as they search! Hike with friends! This isn’t always achievable, but especially for a longer hike, kids are much more motivated when hiking with friends! They will also entertain each other by making up games and keep each other moving, making for a more relaxing hike for the grown-ups! Sing! Songs can be a great way to distract children and cheer them up if they’ve suddenly discovered tired legs or uncomfortable shoes! Walk family-friendly, themed trails. There are a great selection of trails in places that are designed for families and children, with interesting things to see and do along the way. In Verbier, a great option is the ‘Sentier des Sculptures’, which is part of the bisse walk and offers interesting mountain and animal-themed sculptures with information on each section to read to kids. Walking along the bisse can also be lots of fun, as this is a very gentle flowing man-made stream with water that can be paddled in or used for ‘races’ of sticks or other floating natural objects you may find! Check the details of each trail before you start and make sure that it is marked as easy or family-friendly, isn’t too long or steep to avoid carrying tired children. Have a fun destination or activity planned Planning your walk with something to look forward to, perhaps a restaurant for lunch or even just a juice is a great idea, and kids will stay motivated to reach their destination. Other things can be a look-out point, or a lake or waterfall, for example. Incorporating rides of the lifts is also great fun for children, for younger ones that you are worried about on the chairlift there are bubbles, or for slightly bigger kids chairlifts are a fun way to see the views too, and get up high without too much uphill walking! Pack snacks! A water and snack break is very important to keep kids fuelled up! There are lots of benches along trails that provide the perfect spot for this. We hope you have a great time hiking with your little ones!
Safety at CampSafety is our number one priority at camp, no matter what the day, time or activity. From a parental perspective we know that you want your child to have the experience of trying exciting activities at camp, and for some, one of their first experiences staying away from home, but also to be safe at all times. Many of our activities are active, outdoors and may involve doing activities that children are trying for the first time. We aim to make every experience as positive and fun-filled as possible, so that campers are encouraged to try new challenges and want to try these again. For our residential campers this extends to making sure they are safe and cared for 24/7 in down time and at night as well as in activities. To maintain our high safety record at camp we make sure we maintain high standards at all time throughout our camp, in the following areas: Experienced, trained staff At camp all of our activities are risk-assessed, and staff review risk assessments before taking any activity, hold current first aid qualifications, and complete training in the safety aspects of each activity as well as group management. All of our staff are selected based on experience and have all worked with children in their areas of expertise before. Many staff work for us year-round working in our ski school in the winter, taking groups of children skiing or snowboarding on the mountain each day. They know the camp well and they have great knowledge of the area of Verbier. Staff to Camper Ratio For all of our activity sessions, our campers are in groups of 1 staff member for every 8 campers, or for our youngest Marmot campers, groups of 1 staff member for every 4 children. All staff carry fully stocked first aid kits in case of any bumps or scrapes during activities! Medication and Allergies We always ask all parents prior to arrival to inform us of any known allergies or medication that needs to be taken. Our chef makes sure all food allergies and intolerance’s are diligently catered for, and our duty managers manage medications to make sure this is taken correctly each day. Nearby Facilities Verbier has three local medical centres of which one is always on call in case of an emergency, and local hospitals in Martigny and Sion. 24/7 supervision Campers are supervised 24/7; our residential campers are in activities all day from 09.00am – 9.00pm (with some down-time of course!) and overnight have a night-time staff member in the chalet with them in case of any problems arising. Directors We also always have a Director around in Verbier, offering support to staff in case of an incident where staff may need support. If you ever have any questions about safety at camp, let us know and we’d be more than happy to speak to you in detail about any of your areas of concern, so you can rest easy knowing your child is in safe hands. Arriving to Summer Camp Whether your camper is coming from down the road or flying across the world to camp, we have some advice for making sure your child is prepared for the journey and travels safely to camp. Flying Alone Most airlines provide an unaccompanied minor service. Each will have different rules, but generally this is compulsory for children travelling alone aged between 5 and 12, or sometimes 5 -14. Although children over 12 can travel alone with some airlines, you can often add on the accompanied minor service for younger teens up to the age of 18 if you think your child will need extra support, or perhaps if taking a long journey. Many of our campers choose to arrive this way and a trip to camp can be the start of a very exciting journey for campers! Airlines offer advice but here are some of our tips for unaccompanied minors:
- Read the airline’s requirements for unaccompanied minors and make sure you understand what the process is and all paperwork involved.
- Make sure you have sent your child’s flight details to camp in plenty of time for us to arrange their collection, transfer, and send you the details of who will be meeting them.
- Ensure you have sent the name of the camp chaperone to the airline – our staff always take ID as required by airlines.
- Remember you, or whoever is dropping your child off will need to go through security and wait at the airport until the flight has taken off (in case of any delays etc).
- Review rules with your child before they set off; to ask the flight attendant any questions, stay seated when the seat belt sign is on and until the flight attendant takes them off the flight, be polite to whoever is looking after them etc.
- Pack snacks for your child for their journey.
- Make sure you charge any books, games or devices they are bringing for entertainment, and pack headphones for them to use with these.
- If there’s any special requests for your child, pass this information to the gate agent or a note for the attendant on the flight to be passed along if this is not covered in the airline’s documentation.
An interview with Laura, our Camp Director, with advice for parents of first time campers.The first time at camp is one that every camper will always remember, and can be a truly wonderful experience for both children and parents. Selecting your son or daughter’s camp, especially if they’re a first time camper, can be a daunting task; there are a lot of camps out there and so it is important to know what questions to ask when researching the one most suitable for your child – after all, you know them best! We chat with Laura Turner, our Camp Director, to discuss what advice she has for those selecting/attending their first camp as well as her experiences of previous first time campers. How would you recommend parents to go about choosing their child’s first summer camp? “There are many things to consider when choosing a camp, but one of the most important is to ensure involving your child or children in the decision. This can help them to become familiar with where they are going to be travelling to. Ultimately, the happier your child is with the choice you make, the more they are going to look forward to camp and the more likely they are going to be to settle in straight away. Secondly, I think looking at yours and your child’s goals for camp is important, do you want them to learn a language, make new friends, come out of their shell or improve their fitness? Everyone has different goals but by identifying your own, you will have a clearer direction in what you are looking for in a camp. For instance, we have previously welcomed children who have been very shy and struggling to make friends at a new school, and parents have chosen us for our small size and strong sense of community and attention.” Do you recommend a small camp for first time camper? “We strongly believe that our small size does make us an ideal camp for children, both first time campers and experienced campers! Sometimes in a large class at school or a large group at camp, kids can get a little “lost” in the background. Attending a small camp can really help children to discover their inner confidence and abilities. During activities, staff are able to give individual attention to each child by setting realistic challenges with a sense of reward at the end, and each child can come away thinking “I can do this” which leads to pride and the determination to continue developing.” What are the key things to look for during the booking process with a camp? “Often a camp can be a significant distance from home and so good communication is key. Has the camp answered all your questions confidently with all the info you asked for? If not, why? When your child is at camp, you will want to know that if you need to call/email with a problem, someone will be there to help. Reputable camps will have a number you can call 24/7 to ensure this is the case. Another area to look at is testimonials. Read what previous parents and campers have written and see their thoughts first hand. Check also for photos and videos to see a real insight to life at camp.” Can you visit camps in advance of choosing? “Yes, many summer camps like our own don’t operate in the winter, however still welcome visits from families to meet you in person. Altitude run a ski school in winter and our staff are here year round so it is a great opportunity to meet them, go to visit the chalet where the children will live and to see the facilities and location. Some children also like to join us for their first year on our day camp where they travel with their parents, and then join the residential camp the following year. This way parents have the peace of mind they have “tested” the camp the year before and kids are already familiar with the staff and the location.” Should parents send their child alone or with a friend the first time? “For me, this comes down to the child themselves and the best person to judge this is the parents. For children who haven’t been away from home before and are perhaps a little shy, a companion can make the child feel less nervous before camp, knowing they will have a friend with them. On the other hand, children attending camp alone are more likely to integrate quickly as they have that desire to make friends more. It is a reason we only work with individuals and not groups, to ensure that every child is in this same position of wanting to meet new people and make friends. “Some children come with friends or siblings and still integrate but enjoy having each other around. With siblings as opposed to friends, if they are really different ages, it can be great to send them together as the younger ones who may be nervous can be assured they have family around, but will be in age appropriate groups for activities and therefore still have the benefit of being separated and meeting new friends. Logistically for parents, it can be nice to send all the family to one place.” How should parents prepare their child for camp before they leave, especially if they’re a first time camper? “Talking is great! Discuss the camp, what they will be doing, look through brochures and websites together and watch videos. Also, for slightly younger children, pack them their favourite toy, as this is always nice for familiarity. “Make sure you let the camp know anything that they need to be aware of such as bed wetting, allergies, strong dislikes of foods, personality traits etc. We find the more information we have the more we can help. Some parents try to avoid telling you if their child has something they need support with yet if we are informed in advance, we can prepare our team to ensure they are aware and looking out for it when they arrive.” Is homesickness something that parents should worry about with their first time camper? “This is probably our most common point of concern for first time children and parents. It is normal in the first 48 hours for children to feel a little overwhelmed and anxious and as such, when they call home, they can be a bit teary which naturally, can worry a parent. What tends to be the case though, 9 times out of 10, is that throughout the day, the kids are fine. They are busy, learning new things, discovering new places and making friends. When they call home (we only allow phones/ electronics during the free time) this is during down time where they have more time to realise ‘oh, I miss my family’ and so can cause a few tears. However this is all part of the learning process for kids and dealing with these emotions is part of their development.” How would you recommend parents handle the situation where their child is homesick? “The common reaction from parents when a child is feeling homesick is to talk for a long time on the phone throughout the free time, and worry. The advice we offer is to actually call for as short a time as possible. This means the children are only thinking about home for a short while and then get back to playing with friends and having fun. I have had many parents worry in the past and say “I am coming to get them” and my advice is always the same, give me 48 hours to change your mind, if they leave now, with negative thoughts of going to camp, you will never be able to send them again. Yet if they leave happy, it will be easy to suggest it in the future. I have never had a parent disagree! “We have also found that if anything, children who are homesick at first are those that actually get the most out of the camp experience. They make friends, learn to feel comfortable with new situations, develop a strong sense of independence and actually sometimes cry at the end because they’re so sad to leave, which is always great for us to see and lovely for the parents to realise the strong connection their child has made with camp. They are always so thankful we convinced them to give us the time to help them.” What is the most rewarding part of your job when it comes to first time campers? “One of the most rewarding this about camp is, having met shy and nervous children on arrival day, to then say goodbye two weeks later where they have really come on. The change a child can make in two weeks is something I never thought possible until running a summer camp. It takes a dedicated team and staff each with a unique passion but it is a great reward for us as well as the children and their parents when they go home with this new positive mind set and new found ability to believe. “That is truly the best part of running the camp, seeing every child progress so much and the smiles at the end!” If you’re a first time camper or a parent of one and still have questions for us please don’t hesitate to get in contact, we’d be happy to help! Champex Lac Day Trip One of our favourite trips from Verbier is a Champex Lac day trip. This is about a 45 minute drive from Verbier and is a beautiful destination to visit. You can make it a whole day out or just pop over for lunch and see the sights; it is a popular destination from Verbier for road cyclists as well, with a well-deserved lunch at the top! A beautiful mountain lake nestled in the small resort makes for stunning views, a warm sunny day would be the perfect time to plan a visit. Here are a few of our favourite things to do there. Lake Activities Once the ice melts, usually May-time, and the mountains warm up for the summer, Champex-Lac comes alive again and you can rent pedalos or paddle-boards just by the side of the lake. There is optional instruction for paddle-boarding too if you’ve never given it a go before. You can even take a dip if you’re feeling brave, but be warned that the water usually is still very cold – even at the height of summer! Hiking There are some beautiful hikes in the area. One of our favourites to enjoy some of the spectacular views of the valley is the bisse walk, which can then be turned into a much bigger walk up the river if you wish. Park at the lift station and follow the road that runs behind this for a short distance, and you will see a sign-posted footpath running slightly downhill which takes you along the bisse, and then joins up with the fast flowing river. Botanical Garden For those fancying a stroll, there is an alpine botanic garden located in Champex-Lac. Just drive past the main section of the lake and town. The easiest way to access this is to park at the lift station again up out of town and on the opposite side of the road you will see signs to the botanic garden going back in the direction you have just come. About 5 minutes walk will take you; there is an entry fee. Lunch Spots There are some lovely restaurants in the centre of the village offering lunch, some with a view of the lake and others just a few moments stroll away. Outdoor Pool If you fancy a swim and don’t want to brave the waters of the lac then there is an outdoor pool just off the road before reaching the village and lake. This can be a great way to cool off after a hike with the kids, or just to enjoy after a stroll around the lake and town. Climbing For climbers, there’s a lovely little spot to check out very close to the town. Before the outdoor pool there is a lay by where you can park, and a hiking trail which actually forms part of the famous ‘Haute Route’ from Chamonix to Zermatt. After a 10 minute walk down the trail there are bolted routes on an outcrop of rock put together by the Guides de Verbier; however please note that you will need to be an experienced climber with all your own equipment. Knowing how to build a campfire can make a big difference to a camping experience! Some of the most treasured moments of camp can be sitting round the campfire you have just made with your friends, toasting the perfect marshmallow, or sat at an evening campfire with the whole camp telling stories and celebrating achievements from the week before. Building campfires is one of our campers favourite activities, not only is it a great outdoor skill to learn but it also comes with a whole host of other learning outcomes; as well as a sense of achievement and accomplishment. A safe place for building your fire The first step is ensuring your build your fire in a safe place, as well as a place that will aid you in lighting the fire as much as possible. The risk of wildfires in the summer in many forested or grassy areas is high. Make sure you clear an area; ideally there will be bare soil in the area, and you can create a safe boundary for your fire with small rocks to keep it contained, as well as being sheltered from the wind. Make sure there is nowhere the fire can spread to once lit, for example dry grass can easily catch fire. Also ensure there is no fire ban in your area before you decide to light a fire. Selecting the right fuel for your fire First select tinder; the smallest and most flammable fuel to get your fire started, followed by kindling and then larger pieces of wood for fuel. Tinder needs to be very thin shredded material, such as dry ‘old mans beard’, dry pine needles, dried grass, or some types of dried bark. It is hardest to find when the forest floor is damp but this is also when it is most important. Alternatively a supply of matches can act as tinder, or take some with you on damp days. You can create your own by shaving the inside of a log if you are struggling to find dry tinder. Kindling is the next step up from tinder, and the heat from the tinder will get the kindling burning. This is splinters of wood, small sticks. Remember only use fallen wood from the forest floor rather than breaking from living shrubs or trees; the dry dead wood will burn more easily, as well as protecting the environment. All wood should ‘snap’; if it bends it is too moist to burn. Fuelwood for a campfire is the final step up; start with smaller pieces of wood, twigs and once your fire is going with a bit more heat you’ll be able to use larger pieces of wood. You’re not looking to burn anything thicker than the width of your wrist, as a rule. Techniques for building your fire The two most common types of fire are the ‘tipi’ and ‘log cabin’; both built to allow air to circulate and for the tinder to allow the kindling to catch light. For the tipi: start by laying your tinder in a small bundle on the ground. Around this use 3 or 4 larger kindling sticks to form the structure and lean smaller kindling around this, leaving an opening for you to access the tinder. You can then lean some smaller fuelwood against this structure. For a log cabin: start in the same way as a tipi with the tinder and a small tipi around this with kindling. Then lay two pieces of fuel wood on either side, and then another two pieces in the opposite direction to form the 4 walls of your ‘cabin’ Continue to lay slightly smaller pieces to build your cabin taller, and then lay some pieces of kindling over the top. Lighting your fire Position yourself between the wind and the fire to act as a wind break. Light underneath the tinder using your match; this can be easier with the tipi than the log cabin as access, so make sure you are able to get to your tinder easily when building. Hold onto your match while you are lighting rather than letting it go. Extinguishing your fire Ideally, and depending on how large your fire is, extinguish your fire about 30 minutes before you leave. If you are putting out a burning fire then spread the fire with a stick to put out the flames. After this, pour water on the coals and stir the together when you have wet the entire area. Use your hand above the coals to make sure there are no hot spots; if there are wet with more water. Take the coals/ash and spread in the woods away from the trail, especially for larger fires. Any unused wood can be scattered back in the woods, or left if this is a regular fire spot. Building a fire is a popular activity on our mountain adventure camps which are available as day camps and residential camps. Diet has truly infiltrated the psyche of the nation. In today’s world we are more concerned than ever with what we are eating; awareness of obesity is rising and campaigns to educate the general public on healthy food are everywhere. And it’s not just ourselves we’re concerned about, we also want our children eating healthy. The media is filled with advice on what is considered the latest super food, what may be harming our health and what we should be avoiding. So with our awareness growing, we can’t help but worry about our children’s diets; notoriously fussy and with endless cravings for sweet foods, kids can be the fussiest customers, but their nutrition is even more important as they are growing and developing. Here are some of the best current tips on how to encourage healthy eating habits and a positive attitude to food in children from an early age. Get kids involved in growing their own food! If children have been involved in the planting and growing process, they are much more likely to want to eat their fruits and vegetables! Growing food yourself also means you can guarantee it is organic with no pesticides, and teaches children where different foods come from. Understanding food also helps children make healthier choices as they grow older and are able to choose their own meals at school and beyond. Involve children in the food preparation process We lead busy lives and many parents wont be a fan of this suggestion, but involving children in food preparation will mean they are far more likely to eat and enjoy their food as they are proud of what they have made. Letting them help in the supermarket shops and learn to read food labels also increases their awareness. Eating together Sitting down as a family can be important, even if schedules mean it cant happen every night. You are a role model for your child and eating healthy yourself will encourage them to do so and try more foods too. Importantly children should be at a table without electronic or other devices on, as it has been shown children are more likely to eat more unhealthy food in front of televisions. Making food from scratch The benefit of this is that you know exactly what is in your food; no excess sugar or salt can hide away, and chefs like Jamie Oliver are on a mission to prove that making food from scratch is easier than you think. Cooking in large batches when you have time can also make it easy to defrost a home-cooked meal on a busy night. Limit takeaways, fast food and sweets Advertising and the normalisation of junk food is the target of the food revolution; takeaways near schools mean this is often a choice for older children on their way to or from school. As a special treat this can be fine; not banning these entirely reduces the impulse to binge when able to! Sugary drinks For kids this can be a killer, but many sugary drinks can be addictive, especially drinks like coke and kids will actually crave it. Even concentrated fruit juices contain sugar. Remember portion sizes Limit a child’s plate, and never insist they clean their plate if they are full. Using food as a reward or bribe is also strongly recommended against. At camp we have in house chefs making sure all food is prepared each day from fresh ingredients, and using locally sourced produce wherever possible. We also launched our new cookery classes in 2018 which were a great success! The kids loved making their own meals and it was a great way to educate them about where food is sourced, how to safely prepare it, and of course, what makes it healthy! Want to know about the food we offer at our summer camps? Make sure you check out our camp menu blog! Summer camp is an amazing experience for kids to take part in and we want it to be a smooth trip from start to end. This blog is here to give you an insight into the rules at camp, what to pack and some other useful bits of information to help you prepare for summer camp. Anything we’ve missed? Just give us a call and we will be happy to help. Arrivals Our residential campers tend to arrive after lunchtime on Sunday allowing them time to unpack before getting to know new friends in the evening. If you are dropping your children off to camp, please let us know what time you expect to arrive at the camp. If your children are flying in, and you have booked an airport transfer, please ensure letting us know their flight number, landing time, departure airport and also if they are booked as an UM (Unaccompanied Minor) Electronics Policy We strongly believe that children should make the most out of their experience at summer camp and for this reason we have a policy that all electronic equipment is handed to camp staff at the beginning of the camp. Children then have access to these during the free time each day (16h-18h) only. This is to ensure that children fully participate in activities and also to reduce the risk of these items being lost. Dietary Requirements It is very important to us here at Altitude to provide healthy meals for children. Our fantastic team of chefs prepare food freshly on the day using local nutritious ingredients. We cater for all dietary and religious requirements so please do send any requirements you have through to us before arrival. If you have any concerns about meal times, please get in touch and we can discuss requirements and work with you and our chefs in advance. Medical Forms and Information If kids have any medical conditions, it is important for us to be made aware in advance so that we can ensure their safety whilst at camp. We can then communicate with you and organise any medication they may need when here. It goes without saying that Altitude will treat any personal information with sensitivity and total confidentiality. All medication that children bring with them is stored in a secure area and must be labelled with clear instructions and dosages. All medication administered is done so by a Duty Manager and recorded each time. Emergencies In the unlikely event of an emergency there are 3 local medical centres in Verbier as well as 3 regional hospitals within 1 hour by car, or 10 minutes by helicopter. The Swiss medical services offer first-class medical care and attention if required. In any such situation parents/guardians are notified as soon as possible. Insurance In the unlikely event that your child does need to visit the hospital or doctor, it is important to have adequate insurance in place to cover medical centre fees and hospital fees. Please send us your insurance policy details before arriving to camp. Camp Conduct Altitude promotes an environment of mutual respect, fun, enjoyment and learning. We believe that every child has an equal right to have a fantastic time with us and for that reason our staff always keep a close eye on any teasing or bullying or any other anti-social behaviour that may affect another campers experience with us. These situations are very rare on our camps and pre-season staff training covers the subject of how to look out for any signs of bullying. However, please tell your children that if this does happen then they should inform any member of our staff immediately. Altitude has rules in place regarding any child who is deliberately spoiling another camper’s experience. If we believe any behaviour is detrimental to the summer camp spirit, then we will contact the parent or guardian to decide on further action. Altitude fully reserve all rights to send any child home at the parent/guardians’ expense should we perceive their behaviour’s to be inappropriate. Such behaviours include, but are not limited to: drinking of alcohol, threatening behaviour towards staff, students or anyone else, use of illegal drugs, smoking, entering of rooms used by the opposite sex, leaving the chalet at night time after lights out and bullying. All our staff members have been police checked, and hold a valid first aid certificate and the majority of our staff are employed year round for Altitude with a proven track record in safety and professionalism. Emergency Contact Altitude is happy for you to contact us throughout the camp – especially if it is a matter of importance, or if you simply wish to hear how your child is adapting to camp life. Our phone is available for calls / WhatsApp 24/7 during camp sessions with the number +41795305224. Money Our in house bank is used to house all important documents and money. On arrival campers must deposit all funds into this bank – please advise your child about this prior to their arrival. Daily, duty managers will open the bank to allow kids to have a regular fund of pocket money. We recommend a weekly allowance of no more than CHF 100. Homesickness & Illness If your child becomes homesick or ill, a camp director will contact you, so we can work together to resolve the situation. Packing for Camp This list is an accurate reflection of what the “average” camper needs and uses during a 2 week Altitude Summer Camp; however, we realise that it may not be perfect for all campers. If a child is participating in the mountain adventure camp it may be worth investing in some good hiking shoes. Please remember to apply name tags to clothing.
- 14 x underwear
- 2 x pyjamas or nightwear
- 4 x shorts
- 4 x trousers*
- 14 x t shirts
- 5 x jumpers
- 1 x sweat top and bottoms
- 1 x raincoat
- 1 x backpack
- Water Bottle
- 1 x sun hat
- 1 x sunglasses
- 1 x sun lotion
- 2 x swimwear
- 2 x towels**
- 1 x flip flops
- 1 x trainers
- Toiletry Bag (including toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel etc.)
- Laundry Bag
Screen time and your childThe subject of screen time and its effect on your child(ren) has been making headlines over the last few years. Technology is developing so quickly that the role it plays in the lives of children and adolescents today is dramatically different to how it was just 20 years ago. The huge advancements in mobile technology has also increased the integration of technology into our lives; mobile devices are now carried everywhere all the time, and this has also started to impact the lives of our children in the same way as our own. The use of mobile devices in children aged 0-8 years has risen from 5 minutes of use a day in 2011, to 48 minutes a day in 2017, an increase of over 10 fold in just 6 years. Currently, experts are agreed that we are just not sure of the extent of the effects that this increased exposure may be having on long term development, but a handful of studies so far have shown some significant effects of screen time on child development, together with other worrying impacts as children get older. We take a look at the main effects of screen time, good and bad, that have made the news over recent years as we ask – how much is too much?
Types of screen-timeAs adults, we know ourselves that ‘screen-time’ can consist of several different things; for example many of us use computers at work or for studying, we watch television, we use smartphones or other touch devices. This is similar to children; different types of exposure to screen have a different effect. Broadly, the categories are as follows as according to the Common Sense Census:
- Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
- Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
- Communication: video-chatting and using social media
- Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music
Screen time and development in young childrenThere are a number of different recommendations for how much screen time children should be exposed to, and the benefits and costs of using screens. Most parents believe screens have an educational value, but for very young children, research to date is showing otherwise. Infants and Toddlers Broadly speaking children under 18 months – 2 years old are recommended to have no screen time at all with the exception of video-chat assisted by an adult. Even when children are not actively using or watching screens, if the television is on in the background, this negatively affects their play and they are likely to be less focused and will play for less time, and also the quality of parent or caregivers interaction with the children is reduced as they themselves are distracted by their phones or television. This can impact and reduce their ability to learn through play and from caregivers. Essentially, for young children they have nothing to gain and lots to lose from screens. Even educational TV shows aimed at young children have not shown any significant benefits, and a study of children from 8-16 months have shown the more TV a young child watches, the less words they know compared to others in their age group exposed to less TV. Pre-school age children For pre-schoolers aged 2-5, current guidelines exist that approximately 1 hour of screen-time should be the limit. However a 2017 study published in the journal Child Development, researchers looked at the impact of screen-time in relation to children’s overall wellbeing. Findings suggested that it was how parents incorporated the media into children’s lives, how they set rules and if they were actively engaged in exploring digital screens with children that had more of an impact than simply the amount of time. The message from this is therefore that limits are good, but also using screens together with your child is the best way to help them get the maximum benefits of good quality programmes, games and apps, removing the negative impacts of increased screen-time. Screen-time and Tweens and Teens Unlike younger children, and especially with the increase in mobile devices, limiting use of screens in older children can be difficult for parents, and monitoring that use, especially in teens, is even more difficult. Tweens (aged 8-12) are spending an average of 4.5 hours a day, and Teens (13-18) an average of 6.5 hours a day with ‘screen’ media, excluding homework and school-time. The majority of the time (78% among tweens and 64% among teens) they are using is still ‘passive’ or ‘interactive consumption’ – watching, listening, reading and playing with media content such as TV, videos and gaming.
So, what are the effects of all this screen time?Studies are showing correlations, and in some cases implying cause-effect relationships between the excessive use of screen media and the following negative effects:
- Increased risk of obesity
- Developmental delays and learning difficulties
- Sleep deprivation
- Increased risk of loneliness and depression
- Risks of cyber bullying
- Consequences of exposure to violence and other explicit medias
How can parents use screen-time positively?The overall message communicated to us at the moment is that for young children in particular, over-reliance on screen time is not having a positive impact, and in some cases is having a negative impact on their development, reducing time spent playing with more traditional toys and undertaking activities that develop children’s skill sets at this age. Parents should instead encourage more interactive activities such as playing and talking in order to improve children’s listening and social skills, but if using a screen on occasion, they should treat it more as a picture book and interact with the screen alongside their child. However, the overwhelming evidence is most children still prefer paper books to reading screens or e-readers – so these may still be the better option! For older children, with technology addiction a big concern and consequences such as mental health issues, the message is that limits of screen-time seem to be a good idea. Using media to connect, co-view and create is the best way families can combine parenting with technology. Choosing high-quality content for kids and mediating their use of devices, either through limits or through active mediation is also recommended. Parents should discuss media content with their children, especially content involving violence, adult themes, body image or bullying. They should discuss online etiquette, empathy, internet safety, and how to regular media habits as well as realising how their own media habits may influence their children and affect their interactions with them.Paragliders and hang gliders celebrate the return of warmer temperatures that will give them the indispensable thermals to fly higher. Some of them will use that extra altitude to go cross country, flying and travelling hundreds of kilometres over chains of mountains. The most fearless will train their acrobatic skills to challenge their opponents in the many paragliding competitions Switzerland hosts in the summer. And finally, basejumpers are dressing up for the warm season, putting their parachutes on and spreading their wings. They’re ready to fly the beautiful lines of the most open minded country in terms of extreme sports.
What is available for those visiting the Alps to try for themselves?Unlike this last activity that is only accessible to trained flyers, all the other sports are open to newcomers. It is possible to do a full formation, or just a discovery with a trained instructor that will take care of everything. Once you’ve hiked on top of the Verbier mountains, you can return home the fast way with a bike, or tandem paragliding. If you want to improve your balance without suffering from vertigo on a highline, you can rig a slackline in between trees and enjoy the same feeling closer to the ground. Instructors and equipment hire is available for those looking to try their hand at mountain biking or why not sign up for a tandem paraglide, a one-time 30 minute flight to experience what it’s like to soar between those snow-capped mountains and the valleys below.Kids learn to play in every possible place: take their toys away, they will play with a stick. Tell them to stay in their room, and they will build a castle with their sheet. Switzerland is the place where outdoor sports enthusiasts can be like children. And you, are you ready to play no matter the season? Written by David Laffargue (Altitude Sales Executive on weekdays and Basejumper at weekends!)
The Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra 2016The Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra, previously the Music Camp but renamed for 2016 was a huge success for all of the 57 young people, 6 Altitude leaders and 5 chefs, and efforts from all of the Verbier Festival coordinators and tutors. We are constantly impressed each year by the commitment, dedication, positive attitude and above all else musical talent of all the participants of the Verbier Festival Junior Orchestra. This year was no exception, and not only was there some incredible musical training delivered by the Festival, but also all the participants were keen to fully embrace the opportunity to explore Verbier and everything the mountains have to offer. Some of this years highlights were some amazing concerts by the Junior Orchestra, a group outing for traditional Swiss Fondue at a mountain restaurant combined with a trip above the clouds to Mont Fort at 3330m, as well as campfires on the mountain, camper and staff talent nights and a great final BBQ party!
The benefits of summer campThe summer holidays can be seemingly endless when you have young children and teenagers to entertain, so it’s no surprise summer camp has become a popular choice for many families across the world, especially consifering all the benefits of a summer camp. According to the American Camp Association, over 11 million children and adults attend camps over the summer in America alone! So with so many people choosing to send their children to camp each summer, are camps just a convenient form of summer entertainment? Or is there something more behind what the camp experience can offer your child? After running our own camp for over 10 years now, we’ve seen some of the great benefits that summer camp has for children and young people. It has everything rolled into one. It is an opportunity for children to play and have fun out of school as they should, as well as for them to learn new skills or even a new subject. Summer camp also keeps kids entertained in the process and has numerous health benefits. The best part is that children want to go to camp because it’s fun, and the positive outcomes just happen along the way.
Here are our top 6 reasons to send your child to camp.
1. Improving social skills and building new friendshipsOn every camp we have run, the friendships and connections formed during camp between both campers and campers and staff have been some of the most impacting memories of those camps. Never is this so evident as on the last day of camp when children are often in tears saying goodbye to new friends. Camp is its own unique environment away from school where children are able to take a ‘crash course’ in social skills with a new group of people. The Canadian Summer Camp Research project has shown that camp significantly develops children’s emotional intelligence, which includes recognising, understanding and managing emotions, and is a key component in future success.
2. Leading an active outdoor lifestyleOne of the most challenging aspects of childhood for today’s parents is keeping children active and healthy. It’s harder than ever for children to stay active and outdoors especially in urban areas, and this generation of children now spend less time outdoors than any other previous generation. Enter Camp. Often in rural setting such as our own international summer camp in Verbier, Switzerland, children are able to safely explore the great outdoors and the natural world with their peers. All whilst under the guidance of camp leaders. Physical activity is often in the form of fun and games, teaching children an active lifestyle without them even realising it, which they are then more likely to take back to their home life. With numerous health benefits including increased physical fitness and a healthy body weight, active children are also better able to concentrate, do better in school and have fewer behavioural problems.
3. Unplugging from technologyOur children are more reliant on technology for entertainment and schoolwork than ever, and almost every child that comes to camp will have an iPad, iPhone, iPod or laptop, and many more will spend hours watching TV or playing video games in their free time back at home. Although technology can have huge benefits, spending some time without it is essential, but it can often be difficult to convince children of that! At camp, children are only allowed limited access to their mobiles and other devices in free-time, meaning that they can be fully engaged in activities and truly ‘switch off’ from the digital world. Learning they can be away from their technology, have fun and engage with their peers helps kids to realise that there is a world beyond video games and they will be much more inclined to be active, continue their new hobbies and get off the sofa when back at home!
4. Improving confidence and self-esteemCamp is an environment where children are introduced to new tasks and activities, that they may not be familiar with and may not believe they can succeed at. Campers are encouraged to go outside of their comfort zone and take part in activities such as talent performances, high ropes courses or fire building. In a supportive environment of their peers and camp leaders, they learn that it is OK to try and fail, and with every success, their confidence and self-belief grows. This new found independence, resilience and self-esteem transfers not only into activities at camp, but in school and their home life children will be happier to take on new activities or challenges in areas or school subjects where they previously had little self-belief in their own ability.
5. Building leadership skillsLeadership at camp can be learned in many ways, as in the less-adult driven world of summer camp, children have to complete activities in their social groups whether that be with their bunk-mates, during activities or in free-time. Campers rely on each other to cooperate and complete an activity, and in that process they learn to have a voice in that group, and discover the skills and qualities that make them good leaders. Children at camp are also given the opportunities learn to take initiative, whether that is helping a younger camper find their way or who is struggling with an activity, struggling with understanding instructions in a second language, or simply cleaning their rooms without being asked.
6. Improving their ‘World-view’Especially at international camps such as our own, children will meet and form friendships with those outside their normal social circle at school or at home, who are often from different cities or countries and may even speak a different language. This helps widen their world-view and helps children to be open-minded, and also gain an interest and first-hand knowledge of other cultures they may otherwise never have been exposed to. Often children will return year after year to camp simply to reunite with their friends that may live on the other side of the world!An Introduction to Climbing in and Around Verbier The Swiss Alps can be a bit of an adventure playground for those looking for a more adventurous holiday, for both adults and children alike. Among the many different activities the Alps are famous for, climbing is one of the most infamous ones in the area. Unlike ‘trad’ climbing in the UK, the alpine area has outdoor bolted routes for everyone from beginners to experts, so with your own equipment or rented equipment, you can climb from dawn ‘til dusk. There are also mountain guides in the area happy to give lessons to beginners or help more advanced climbers find the best spots in the area, as well as indoor walls where you can have lessons or practice your bouldering and sport climbing skills in a controlled environment. Facilities and climbing spots in and around Verbier If you’re based in Verbier for your holiday, there are some great climbing facilities available right on your doorstep for all abilities and ages: Medran Indoor Climbing wall The main gondola station in Verbier, also open in the peak summer months usually between 9am – 4pm, features a climbing wall targeted at budding young climbers. It is possible to rent harnesses and the walls are equipped with ‘auto’ belays – so your children can clip on and climb to their heart’s content! The wall isn’t too high and children can wear trainers and just give it a try.
Verbier Outdoor Artificial Climbing WallAn outdoor artificial climbing wall is located also in central Verbier, just by the Library on Rue de Verbier Station, after the Chez Martin restaurant. The area also boasts tennis courts and mini-golf, so it’s a great afternoon stop for the whole family. The wall has routes ranging from 4 through to 8 (on the French climbing grade scheme) and although it is only about 7m high it’s a great one for practicing, and also has two auto-belays installed for those without their own rope. Not to mention the view is stunning. Centre du Sportif Verbier opened a new 400m2 indoor climbing wall as part of its sports centre renovation in July 2017, which features two bouldering areas and multiple auto-belays as well as routes for those only with their own equipment. It is also possible to rent harnesses and shoes as part of the admission price. La Barme Le Barme is an outcrop of rock above the Patier area of Verbier that can be seen from many view points in town but can be surprisingly hard to find! Its possible to walk or drive to it if you keep heading up from the Patier area, and the rock itself is approximately a 10 minute walk along a path from the road. Routes here are mostly in the 5s, 6s and 7s, so not much for those looking for super easy climbs but a great place to progress when you’re ready for outdoor climbing and are fully stocked with all your own equipment.Climbing locations further afield Saxon Vertic-Halle Located about a 45 minute drive from Verbier, this indoor climbing centre is open from 9am each day and offers over a 120 routes ranging from beginner to expert level with a surface of 1500m2, including both big wall climbing and bouldering. There is a climbing shop, equipment rental and a café. One of the best places around to get climbing instruction or go to practice, it costs about CHF 24 for adults and between CHF 8 – 13 for children under 16 as of 2017. Champex Lac A hidden gem which has seemingly only been around a couple of year, there is a great little climbing spot just below champex lac with some great routes for climbers. About a 40 minute drive from Verbier again, park just below where the outdoor swimming pool is below town, and follow the footpath for about 10 minutes. The haute route hike between Chamonix and Zermatt actually passes by this rock, so you might also have an audience! Routes are marked and graded here, and it’s a great place for advanced beginner – intermediate climbers. Chamoex lac town is nearby for lunch or to hire a pedelo on the lake. Again, routes are bolted but you will need experience and all your own equipment here. Chamonix Chamonix, just over an hours drive from Verbier, is a mecca for mountaineering in Europe. St Triphon An old quarry site, this has a wide range of outdoor bolted routes of varying heights. There is a small village nearby but no other facilities, so best to stock up with everything you will need with regard to food and drinks. Some routes are very long so may only be accessible with an 80m rope.A few tips for climbers just starting out:
- Make sure you hire an instructor or guide if you have never climbed before, climbing can be a dangerous sport due to the height involved and it is important to know how to use your equipment correctly and safely. Instruction can also make it much more fun!
- Always check the grade of the route you are about the climb and ensure you and your belayer feel comfortable with this.
- If climbing outdoors, be fully prepared with letting someone know where you are heading and be aware of emergency numbers – call 112 for emergency services or 144 for ambulance within Switzerland.
- If you’re in the area and planning to do lots of outdoor climbing, there are books available for each area detailing the locations, routes and grades, which we recommend investing in before venturing out on your own.
- If you’re looking to buy or rent climbing gear while in Verbier, both Mountain Air and Xtreme Sports in Verbier have climbing gear for sale and for rent. If you’re looking to buy lots of equipment, Chamonix is probably the best place to head, with a great range of shops for all types of climbing and mountaineering equipment, or there are larger shops nearby based in Martigny.
- For those starting out and wanting to invest in equipment, having good-fitting beginner climbing shoes is the most important. Having your own harness is very useful too and is usually more comfortable than a rented one.
- Always ensure your equipment is rented from a reputable outlet, or if using your own ensure you are confident it is safe to use, and retire and replace it when necessary.
Mountain restaurants in VerbierThis week, we take a look at favourite restaurants in Verbier, giving you our top 5 summer mountain restaurants, places where you can enjoy the best Swiss and international cuisines or just simply relax over a nice drink.
Cabane Mont FortThere is nothing more special than a visit to the Cabane Mont Fort, situated at 2.457 meters above sea level. This traditional Swiss mountain hut is located between La Chaux and Gentianes and has a stunning view across the mountains. From the end of June to mid September you can enjoy local Swiss specialties and if you want you can even stay overnight.
Chez DanyThis place is a great stop for a lunch or dinner, located just above Verbier and a 20 minute walk from Medran or accesible by car. The restaurant serves high quality Swiss cuisine with superb dishes and friendly service. The food is not cheap, but the view is priceless and definetely a must-do experience while staying in Verbier.
La MarlenazAnother one on top of your holiday list should be the restaurant ‘La Marlenaz’. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful chalets in a perfect location with a diverse menu. If you walk along the Bisse de Levron you will find the restaurant just before the end of this beautiful path. You can also get there by car.
Le DahuLe Dahu serves great food at a price comparable to the village resort. It is probably the best place to eat pizza, but also offers a wide range of other international dishes. The view is amazing and the restaurant is easily accessible by the La Chaux Express cable car.
Croix de CoeurThis restaurant is situated on top of the mountain pass Croix de Coeur, between Verbier and La Tzoumaz. With a beautiful view over Verbier and the surrounding mountains Croix de Coeur offers a dining experience with a local flavour. The steak on a hot stone is one of our favourites, but also a variety of Rösti and other Swiss specialities. You can also check out the Verbier Tourist Office website for a full list of restaurants in Verbier.Newsletter
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