Keeping your tween or teenager occupied during the school holidays can be difficult. Especially for full-time working parents. Organising play dates, day camps and childcare can seem like a job in itself. This is where summer camps for teens can play a vital role!
It’s common for school kids in the UK to go to ‘day camps’ during the school holidays. However, it’s not as common for tweens and teenagers to spend time at residential camps. That’s very different to the United States, where children often spend the first few weeks of their summer holiday at an adventure camp or other educational camp. That is changing in the UK, however. There are now many more summer camps for teens and tweens on offer.
First of all, here are the answers to a few questions you might have about summer camps for teens and tweens:
Why send your child away on an adventure camp?
Summer camps alleviate boredom, keep kids occupied and therefore keep them out of trouble. Sending your child to an adventure camp will also help them learn new skills or improve existing ones. It’s a great way for teens and tweens to build their independence. Lastly, and let’s be honest here, summer camps for teens and tweens are a useful form of childcare especially given how limited paid leave is.
What’s the best age for residential camps?
The best age for residential summer camps will vary from child to child. Only you will know whether your tween or teenager will enjoy a residential camp or cope with being away from home for an extended period of time. In our experience, the older they are, the easier it is for them to be away from home for longer. They’ll relish being with kids their own age and being occupied by something they enjoy.
Are summer camps for teens expensive?
Some summer camps for teens will be more expensive than others. Fundamentally, the price will depend on the duration of the camp, the type of accommodation and the activities on offer. The more specialised the activity, the more expensive the camp will likely be.
So, with this in mind, why not read on to find out about some of the best activity holidays and summer adventure camps for teens in the UK:
Outdoor Adventure Camps
Outdoor adventure camps are such a fantastic way to counter our kids’ reliance on technology and devices today. It’s a way to get back in touch with nature and enjoy what it has to offer, challenge yourself to try new things and make new (face-to-face) friendships.
If your child is into bushcraft and woodland adventures, or you want to expose your children to camping and outdoor activities, Camp Wilderness is the place to go. Our children, who aren’t the most outdoorsy, have extremely fond memories of their stays at Camp Wilderness.
As of the time of writing, Camp Wilderness operates in five locations. These are: Castle Howard (York), Boughton Woods (Northamptonshire), Cornbury Park (Oxfordshire), Cuffley Park (Hertfordshire) and Penshurst Place (Kent). They offer 3-day and 5-day summer adventure camps for children aged 8 to 14. Camp Wilderness has even teamed up with explorer Ed Stafford to create an ‘advanced’ camp.
If you’re looking for an adventure summer camp experience with your kids, Camp Wilderness offers outdoor adventure camps for the whole family too.
Further details (including prices) can be found on the Camp Wilderness website.
If your teenager is really into outdoor activities and mountain adventures, then Ridgeway Adventures in Inverness, Scotland, might be the place for them. Running since 1969, and attracting teens from around the world, Ridgeway Adventures offer a one-week outdoor adventure camp for kids aged 11 to 15. It also runs a two-week summer expedition camp for kids aged 14 to 17. Activities include sea kayaking, fishing, trekking, wild camping and a night on a deserted beach.
Further details (including prices) can be found on the Ridgeway Adventures website.
Mill on the Brue
Running since 1982, Mill on the Brue operates a week-long outdoor summer camp in Bruton, Somerset for children aged 8 to 15. It’s located within 20 acres of former farmland and has over 40 activities, outdoor pursuits and games to take part in. Teens and tweens are definitely kept occupied and away from those devices!
Further details about Mill on the Brue summer adventure camps (including prices) can be found here.
XUK is the brand name for several specialised camp experiences for kids aged 8 to 17. XUK offers two outdoor summer camps: the Elective Summer Camp for kids aged 12 to 17 and the Multi Activity Summer Cap for kids aged 8 to 17. Both these camps are held at Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire. The primary focus is Outdoor Adventure, Sports and Creative Arts, but there are a range of other activities your kids can get involved in.
Further details about XUK camps (including prices) can be found here.
Art Summer Camps
If your kids enjoy being creative, art summer camps are the perfect way to keep them busy and get them using a different part of their brain! Art summer camps could vary from the performing arts to painting and music – there are lots of different options on offer.
Cambridge School for Visual and Performing Arts (CSVPA)
CSVPA offers educational summer courses in a range of things, including, animation, art, film-making, fashion and drama for teens aged 14 to 18. Classes are fairly intense (35 to 40 hours per week). However, if your teen is serious about a career in the arts, then this is a very worthwhile experience. CSVPA also offers a range of evening activities and Saturday excursions to keep your teenagers occupied.
Further details (including prices) can be found on the CSVPA website.
British Youth Musical Theatre (BYMT)
BYMT offers six-day activity holidays across the UK for kids aged 11 to 17. These camps are particularly for children looking to develop their acting, singing, movement, writing and instrument-playing abilities. The summer camps are all about making a show: devising it, writing it, composing it, and singing, acting and/or dancing in it. There is also a boot camp version for 17- to 21-year-olds. This is an intensive week of audition technique, drama school preparation and academic understanding of musical theatre.
Further details (including prices) can be found on the BYMT website.
Arts University Bournemouth – Creative Arts Summer School
For children aged 7 to 15 years old and with options for both day and residential attendance, this makes a great choice when it comes to Art summer camps. Kids will work with a variety of art forms and it’s an opportunity to be creative and experiment. For teenagers who are studying Art GCSE or taking it for A-Level and need to build a portfolio of work, there’s a Portfolio Preparation Course. There are also bespoke courses and more niche ones, such as Special FX make-up courses for kids aged 12 to 15.
Find out more information about Art summer camps at this venue here.
Before we jump in, choosing the right sports camp depends on several factors. There is a vast array of ‘day camps’ available for most sports (be it football, rugby, hockey, basketball, netball, cricket, tennis, lacrosse, swimming or athletics). Fundamentally, you will be guided by your child and:
- their existing activities (e.g., does their sports club offer ‘day camps’),
- their ability (e.g., are they a novice who needs extra attention or do they compete to county or regional standard so require higher quality training),
- their sporting affiliation (yep, Arsenal fans might not want to go to a Spurs football camp and vice versa) and
- what their friends do (i.e., do they just want to run around with their mates in a supervised environment doing something they enjoy for fun)?
It is a bit of trial and error. However, below are a few sporting camps which our kids have attended or been recommended to us (you may notice a theme…):
Mel Marshall Swim Inspiration (MMSI)
MMSI was founded by Mel Marshall, a former Olympian and the current National Lead Coach at the British Swimming Centre in Loughborough. Hosted at Repton School in Derbyshire, for competitive swimmers aged 9 to 16, the MMSI residential swimming summer camp is designed to bring the Olympic experience to life over six days. During the camps, swimmers take part in twice-daily swim sessions, as well as land training, stretch and mobility sessions and sports psychology workshops. There is also a range of other non-swimming activities (such as wheelchair basketball, zorbing and tug of war).
Further details (including prices) can be found on the MMSI website.
Millfield Swim Camps with Jazz Carlin
Millfield School in Somerset is famed for its sporting prowess, especially when it comes to swimming. The school, together with former Olympian Jazz Carlin and a special guest, host a five-day swimming summer camp for competitive swimmers aged 10 to 17. Like the MMSI camp, there are other activities which accompany the pool and land training sessions.
Further details (including prices) can be found on the Millfield Enterprises website.
MT13 Hockey Camp
Hosted at Repton School in Derbyshire, MT13 offers a five-day long residential elite hockey camp. The camps are designed to improve players’ technical skills and understanding through a mixture of gameplay and drills. There is also a ‘technical lab’ where players can have their technical ability assessed against four pre-determined skills.
MT13 also offers non-residential hockey camps across a number of locations in the UK.
For further details (including prices) click here.
Southgate Hockey Centre (SHC)
SHC offers a five-day long residential elite hockey camp for county academy players and above aged 13 to 18. Participants are immersed in a programme that delves into tactical knowledge of the game, challenges technical ability, and explores physical and mental preparation for the game. Accommodation is fairly rustic (separate boys’ and girls’ tents). Players are supervised and have access to the clubhouse at all times and the site is secured by gates.
Further details (including prices) can be found on the SHC website.
Elite Netball Academy Camp
If you have an enthusiastic netballer aged 10 to 17 in your house, this one might be for you. Four-day residential netball camps are held at different schools in the UK each year. 2023’s summer camp was held at Queen Ethelburga’s College in York. The camp focuses on individual player development and small-group coaching so that every player gets time and attention. Children attending will also get the opportunity to meet international and Superleague players.
More information and an opportunity to sign up to find out about 2024 dates and locations can be found here.
I hope you found this summer camps for teens list useful. Please let me know if you have any other recommendations for summer activity camps in the UK and beyond!