Ahh Summer. Right now it might seem like a distant dream but before you know it the long lazy weeks of “zomervakantie” will arrive and unless you’ve got yourself organised you might discover that Amsterdam’s most thrilling camps are all booked up. So, if you want to avoid seven weeks as “camp counselor" at home, get ahead of the pack and take a look at these wonderful ideas for the holidays.
The Dutch do brilliant summer camps. Don’t fret if your littles only speak English, most will actively cater for non-Dutch speakers and they’ll be making friends in no time. You don’t even need to be living in The Netherlands to sign up, so if you’re visiting the country why not enroll the minis for a few days and enjoy some grown-up Amsterdam adventures of your own whilst the kidsters are having fun. Here is a taste of the very best on offer.
For mini happy hippies - Terragon Nature Camp
For nature lovers looking for slightly lower paced adventures, the Terragon Nature camps come highly recommended. Based on a private two and a half acre plot, the site includes a forest, wagons, a tipi and tents as well as a main house with toilet facilities. Younger children will enjoy storytelling, nature excursions to visit neighbourhood farms, yoga, hut building and insect hotels. For 10-14 year olds themes of sustainability are introduced around land, air, food, energy and water. The camp caters enormously well for non-Dutch speakers - languages spoken include English, Spanish, Finnish, French and German. Best of all they also have experience with Autistic children and are committed to “treating everyone equally and adapting to individual needs.”
For mini Rem Koolhaas’ – Archikids Camp
If your creative youngsters are more excited by buildings than fashion, the Archikids camp run by the Amsterdam Space and Sound Club could be just what you’re looking for. Once again run in English, the week long camp will allow kids of all ages to develop ideas and work towards an end of week exhibition. Using the magical Vondelpark for exploration and inspiration children create structures that move from imagination to paper and end up coming to life in 3-D.
For mini Van Goghs – My Little Van Gogh with Toddler Sense and Mini Professors
Aimed at younger artists, this fabulous camp offers 3-7 year olds a chance to “express, experiment, tinker, create and have fun”. And having fun is guaranteed with a programme that also includes storytelling, outdoor fun, gym and games and more.
For mini Meryl Streeps – Theatre Course at the Open Air Theatre at the Vondelpark
Stage-loving performers can look forward to a starring role if they join this unique outdoor theatre course. Spend a week learning how a performance is put together from studying scripts to helping with scenery, learning about timing and perfecting choreography all ahead of the Saturday performance attended by enthusiastic family and friends in the atmospheric Open Air Theatre. Actors, singers and dancers are all welcome to contribute and learn from the professional theatre teacher and director on hand.
Science and Engineering Camp
For mini Lego-nuts – Young Engineers Lego Camp
Lego lovers will go nuts for a week of Lego building and fun. With two models constructed each day the camp also includes games, crafts and films showing the scientific principles behind every model. And just in case you’re worried about a lack of fresh air, the camp guarantees outdoor play to fill young brains with oxygen ahead of their next challenge. Building alone and in teams, models include mechanical arms, cars with gears and working clocks. The camp also includes mega projects with all attendees contributing elements. Ready? Set? LEGO!
For mini Marie Curie’s – Mad Science Club
Based on the principle that kids are the greatest researchers on earth (because everything is new and interesting and there are no rules yet!) Mad Science Club is a chance for kids to learn the basics of science and tech through a series of amazing tests, cool experiments, challenging materials and enthusiastic professors. Whether they want to make missiles, slime or just some super cool gadgets, Mad Science is the place to head.
For mini Mat Hoffman’s – BMX Camp
For just four days each Summer, BMX nuts between 8 and 16 can spend 9 hours a day getting down and dirty with bikes. Whether you’ve got your own or need one to rent, there’s everything here for two-wheeled fanatics. Street or dirt - you name it. Bring your helmet and a sense of adventure.
For mini Anky van Grunsvens – Pony Camp
Right in the centre of Amsterdam, just by the Vondelpark lies a stunning hidden building which is home to the oldest riding school in the Netherlands – The Hollandsche Manege. In the Summer holidays the centre is home to pony camp, a unique chance to ride and groom ponies in the heart of town.
For mini Ben Ainslie’s – Sailing Camp
Think The Netherlands, think water. The Dutch are a nation of sailors and there’s no better place to learn your sloop from your ketch than on the wonderful waterways that weave their way across this watery landscape. There are sailing schools aplenty around Amsterdam for kids of all ages as well as a range a little further out of town on some of the hundreds of lakes and open water areas that dot the landscape. You can guarantee your minis will enjoy a good night’s sleep after a day aboard.
For mini Frenkie de Jong’s – Ajax Football Camp
I’ve saved the best until last. This Summer my boys are beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of joining Ajax for a week of football training. Ajax’s youth academy is known as Europe’s best and the training and methodology used at the camps is based on the programme they run for professionals. Participants train like real Ajax players at the official club training ground and get full Ajax camp kit, professional coaching and evaluation reports. Participants come from around the world and my two have watched the promotional video at least a hundred times, sending shivers down all our spines. With specialist goalkeeping camps running in parallel, this is the real deal for football lovers. As well as the 4 weeks of camp running at Ajax’s training ground “De Toekomst” in Amsterdam, it’s worth knowing that Ajax Summer camps also take place around the country in cities like Aalsmeer and Zwolle and even one in Bloemendaal , giving parents a chance to hang out at the beach whilst the kids are occupied – win-win! Get your skates on and book right now if you want to grab one of the few remaining places.
Whatever your child’s interest, there’s a summer camp in Amsterdam to pique their creativity. So get your toddlers, kids and teenagers off screens and outdoors for a summer adventure they’ll never forget.
For lots more inspiration, head over to www.amsterdamwonderland.com which is packed with ideas for days out and more.