2020 summer camps in Ireland: Guide to the best ones still going ahead

Fewer camps are on due to Covid-19, but here are some that may appeal to parents and kids

Every year, the number of summer camps – types and locations – across the island has increased steadily. At least, that was the trend until this year.

For obvious reasons, very few camps have taken place in Ireland so far this year. Several individuals and companies who traditionally run camps have decided not to do so in 2020, and a few others are still in the process of deciding whether hosting camps is feasible. It has been a nightmare for those who run summer camps, with carefully laid plans for 2020 thrown out the window by the Covid-19 pandemic. Camps that are going ahead have to abide by social distancing rules – not an easy or particularly straightforward task.

The good news is that there are still some options for the coming months that may appeal to parents, children and teenagers.

The activities in the camps are around the themes of botany, food science, pulleys and levers, acid and base chemistry and plastics. Children are divided into age groups: Nano (7-10) and Micro (10-12).
Location: The camps will run in July and August, with some locations to be confirmed, but include Co Wicklow, Co Dublin and Co Cork.
Times: You can select either a morning or an afternoon camp. They will run from 10am to 12.30pm, or from 1.30pm to 4pm (the camp plans a deep clean during the break).
Ages: 7-12/13 years.
Cost: €99 for first child; €188.10 for two; €252.45 for three.
Website: anyone4science.com


Astro Park is back open this summer with its multi-activity camps in Dublin. The emphasis is on ensuring the children are provided with a fun-filled, safe and healthy environment. Early drop-off and late collection options are available for busy working parents. So it is not merely football-based activities – the children will also get to try new games, such as Bubble Football and Nerf Astro Wars. All pricing and dates are subject to Government guidelines and supervisor ratio protocols.
Location: Tallaght and Coolock, Dublin.
Times: 5 days, 10am-3pm. Early drop-off from 9am and late collection from 3pm to 5pm.
Ages: 4-12.
Cost: €75
Website: astropark.ie/camps

A dream for children who want to become a pilot or work in some way in the sector, there are probably more than a few adults who would love to attend Atlantic Air Adventures Aviation camp. Classes include learning how pilots plan, weather factors and the science behind flying.
Location: Shannon, Co Clare.
Times: Monday-Thursday, July 20th-23rd; Tuesday-Friday, August 4th-8th. 10am-1pm.
Ages: 8+
Cost: €145.
Website: atlanticairadventures.com

Tennis clubs were among the first sports able to reopen their clubs after lockdown, and tennis summer camps are also sure to be popular as social-distancing is relatively straight-forward. Dublin-based Deuce Point is back with their camps from the end of July.
Location:  Terenure College and Castleknock College, Dublin.
Times: 5 days. From July 27th-Aug 21st in Terenure College (2.30pm-4.30pm) and August 17th-21st in Castleknock College (mornings).
Cost: €65.
Website: deucepoint.ie

A 500-metre obstacle course is either a child's idea of heaven or hell. If it's the former, Fota Island Adventure Camp might just be the ticket. There's also archery, field games, survival skills, orienteering and lots more. To comply with Covid-19 guidelines, the camp is organised into pods of 15 participants.
Location: Fota Island Resort, Tullagreen, Cork.
Times: 5 days. Camp Alpha runs from 9am-1pm, Camp Bravo runs from 9.30am-1.30pm.
Ages: 8-15 years.
Cost: €150.
Website: fotaadventure.com

Even this summer, it is still likely to be the biggest of them all. The week is about learning new skills in football, camogie and hurling. And having fun. Compared with other camps, the relatively low cost of signing up is obviously a big incentive – especially as each child takes home a gear bag, jersey and sports top. More than 4,000 children had been pre-registered for the 2020 camps (they are entitled a refund or place in one of the rescheduled camps). Meanwhile, your child may be interested to know (whether they can attend a camp or not) that TG4 are staging a Cúl Camp TV programme, beginning from June 29th. 
Location: Camps will take place in all 32 counties, though some clubs have already indicated that they will not be holding a camp this summer.
Times: 5 days. Camp times may vary between venues due to the current circumstances.
Ages: 6-13 years.
Cost: €65 (£55) for first child; €60 (£50) for second; €50 (£45) for third.
Website: kelloggsculcamps.gaa.ie

So you have a budding gymnast in your house? Olympian Gymnastics Camps might be the place for her or him. The campers get to try the different apparatus – floor, beam, bars, vault, etc.
Locations: Two Dublin camps are confirmed, Greenhills and St Colmcille's Community School in Knocklyon, with more hopefully to be added.
Times: Camps take place from 9.30am-2.30pm (capacity is 25 for July camps, and 32 for August camps). Registration will open on Wednesday June 24th to the public.
Ages: Ages 5+.
Cost: €110 for five-day camps, and €100 for the four-day camps.
Website: olympiangymnastics.com

The Independent Theatre Workshop performing arts camps are full of opportunities to sing, dance and act. You can also try your hand at puppetry, film-making, choreography and performance and to make new friends and use your imagination, creativity and theatre skills. ITW have courses for all ages from tots to teens in three Dublin locations, and promise small group sizes. First camp begins on July 20th.
Locations: Clonskeagh, Ranelagh and Drumcondra.
Times: Five-day camps from 9am-12.30pm, and 1pm-4.30pm for 3-7 year olds and 1pm-6pm for 8-16 year-olds.
Ages: 3 -16 years
Cost: €130-€160 per week
Website: itwstudios.ie

Re-opening for summer camps during July and August these camps will see your kids spending days outdoors trying out a range of adventure activities - all available onsite. From Kayaking and Ringo rides on Killary Fjord to climbing to the tree tops on the Climbing Tower, High Ropes Course and Burma Bridge. 
Location: Camps will run in Leenane, Co Galway.
Times: 5 days, Monday-Friday; or 7 days, Sunday-Sunday. Daily camps also available. 
Ages: Daily camps 8-16 years, Residential camps 10-16 years.
Cost: €390-€550 for all inclusive 5/7 day residential camps. €55 per child for a daily camp.
Website: Killaryadventure.com

Like many other camps, Let's Go! Multi Activity Summer Camps have adjusted their programme of activities for 2020 due to Covid-19. They will have limited numbers on camp this summer, but the new programme of activities still promises to be challenging, educational and fun. Activities will include FlingSocks, KMX karting, pony cycles, athletics, orienteering, field games, court games, treasure hunt and basketball.
Locations: Limited venues nationwide.
Times: five days, 9.30am-3.30pm (with staggered drop-off and collect times).
Ages: 5-12 years.
Cost: €115 for first child; €100 for second; €85 for third.
Website: letsgo.ie

The Lingotot outdoors Forest School Programme allows children to join in the fun of learning a new language through songs, stories and play, in a range of natural settings, such as forests, woodland, fields and parks, compliant with the government's social distancing measures. With families having been apart throughout lockdown and foreign travel uncertain for this summer, parents, grandparents and carers are also encouraged to attend to share the experience with their children.
Location: South Co Dublin.
Times: Four weeks in July.
Ages: Group 1: 2-4 years; Group 2: 5-6 years; Group 3: 7-11 years.
Cost: €50 per week.
Website: lingotot.com/centre/south-dublin

Little Lingua will also be offering venue-based language camps this year from August 10th in line with health guidelines. "Our language camps have always been small and full of outdoor activities," says founder Sinéad McKeever, about their French, Spanish, and Irish language camps. "So our formula has been easy to adapt. Each day has a theme, Camping in France, Bullfights in Spain, Céilí Day, all of which take place outdoors. It has been challenging to find venues across the country, but as we open up a little more, we do hope to add more venues. Keep an eye on our website, which is updated daily. "We really feel for those entering secondary school for the first time, so in August we are offering specific 'booster classes' in French, Spanish and Irish, to give these children extra confidence as they enter a new world."
Locations: From August 10th, in-person camps will be held at venues in south Dublin and north Wicklow.
Ages: Suitable for primary school children, and those entering secondary school.
Cost: From €75 - €115
Website: littlelingua.com

Playact Drama School will be offering their drama and theatre camps at three locations in Dublin this August in line with health guidelines. 'We have always prided ourselves on keeping our camps and classes small in numbers so that each student receives individual attention', says founder Adrienne Lee. Students will spend their days singing, dancing, acting, making props, devising stories. 'We want to support all our students to connect and socialise while building their confidence during these times of change.'
Locations: Tuesday, August 4th – Friday, August 21st in Glasnevin Educate Together, Sandyford Community Centre, Inchicore Sports Centre.
Ages: 4-12 years.
Cost: €99-€120 (Family discount available).
Website: playact.ie

The team – led by ex-Munster player John Murphy and MD Graham Ross – behind the recent #TheBigRugbyRun fundraiser that raised €60,000 for Feed the Heroes, PSA Academies offer a high-performance rugby academy programme. With the IRFU Return To Play guidelines, the company are finalising details of a new schedule of academies for those aged 10-16, to begin on July 27th. The daily programme will have coaches delivering a high-level skills and physical development programme during the day, with interactive sports science webinars each evening. Parents can pre-book their children in for their preferred venue for a €20 deposit and get 10 per cent off if booking before the end of June.
Locations: There are four camps in Ireland – at the Cistercian College, Roscrea; Midleton College in Cork; Kilkenny College; and Wilson's Hospital School in Co Westmeath. They also run a camp for two weeks (July 11th-25th) in Tignes in the French Alps.
Times: For Irish academies, Sunday 5pm to Friday 5pm residential, 8.30am-3pm non-residential, online evening programme 6pm-8pm.
Ages: 10-16 years, boys & girls, on all non-residential programmes
Cost: €205 to €445 for the Irish Academies (excl 10% booking discount)
Website: psaacademies.com

With holding camps this summer still up in the air, Michelle O'Grady is concentrating on one-on-one speech and drama sessions, ideal for anyone looking for some focussed attention or confidence-boosting.  Topic include speech skills/projection, improvisation; scripts (learning and writing), storytelling; and drama games. Suitable for someone who needs a little help feeling more confident in group settings, Michelle also works a lot with children who have autism and/or additional needs.
Location: Salthill, Co Galway and Castlebar, Co Mayo
Cost: 45-minute sessions are €40 each (€230 for six). 1-hour sessions are €50 (€290 for six).
Website: realtadrama.com

A camp in Co Sligo that teaches children to navigate the ocean waves and shores "with confidence, excitement and respect". 
Location: Strandhill, Co Sligo.
Times: 5 days. Starting in June 29th, the camps are scheduled for the mornings at the moment, with afternoons to be added.
Ages: 6-17 years  (younger and older children are separate).
Cost: €150.
Website: rebellesurf.com

Learn to surf in the Atlantic ocean with the passionate ocean lovers at the Co Donegal surf school. The school runs adult lessons alongside the camps, so you could learn to surf too while the kids are in the camp!
Location: Rossnowlagh Surf School in Donegal.
Times: The camps run from 9am-11am & 11am-1pm every Monday to Friday, from June 8th until the end of August.
Ages: Under-16s.
Cost: €100.
Website: rossnowlaghsurfschool.com

Mastering the art of sailing is offered at the Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School. Groups are by age (4-6, 7-10, 11-14 and 15-17), in Dún Laoghaire. The children learn to master a sailing dinghy afloat. Boats are provided, obviously, as are lifejackets and buoyancy aids. Wetsuits can be hired for €20 for the week.
Location: Dún Laoghaire and Poolbeg in Dublin.
Times: 5 days, 9am-5pm (7-17 years), 9am-12.30pm (4-6 years).
Ages: 4-17 years.
Cost: From €209 (discounts for multiple bookings).
Website: inss.ie

An unique opportunity for young explorers to carry out archaeological tasks and solve puzzles. The aim at the School of Irish Archaeology is to introduce children to the "mysteries and adventures of our past in a fun, practical and hands-on way". Apart from archaeology digging, the week's activities include clay pot making, archery and a trip to a national monument.
Locations: Malahide and Harold's Cross, Dublin.
Times: Five days, 9am-12pm & 1pm-4pm.
Ages: 7-12 years.
Cost: €110
Website: sia.ie

A camp for the little person in your life who enjoys singing, dancing and acting. The camp has adapted, with much of the activity now taking place outdoors. There will be the regular offering of dance, drama, music, magic, news and weather reporting, and comedy, though the traditional finale show for parents on the last day will not take place this summer. Children will be in pods with a maximum of 15 per group.
Locations: Nationwide, though there will be approximately 60 camps this summer (compared to the 240 originally planned).
Times: 5 days. The camp times will be from 9.45am/10am to 2.15pm/2.30pm. Staggered drop-off and collection times will be in place.
Ages: 4-12 years.
Cost: €95 (£85) for first child; €75 (£75) for second; €65 for third.
Website: starcamp.ie

Read: Guide to 2020 online summer camps

Damian Cullen

Damian Cullen

Damian Cullen is Health & Family Editor of The Irish Times