Sheraton Summer Camp in Abu Dhabi

Join in the fun at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort’s summer camp Discuss this article

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A s charming as the idea of a short winter break was when I was in school, it was the annual summer hols that were in fact the main event. Two months of revelry and relaxed schedules. Life was indeed like a box of chocolates, full of joy and sweetness, and a few extra calories, but who cares about that when you are a kid?

There were years when my brother and I were packed off to see relatives. On other occasions, my parents got more creative. Which is why today, I can speak a little French, cook a three-course Chinese meal, carry half a tune on the synthesiser, dance my way through a classical Indian beat and gift wrap the trickiest of presents. Yes, I attended a gift-wrapping course one summer. Hand me your favourite Pokémon character and I will prove it to you.

My most memorable experience though, was a summer camp we would attend every couple of years. Mrs Roberts, our school’s swimming coach, would organise this ten-day trip that included activities such as arts and crafts, fun games, mini treks, relay races, treasure hunts and the occasional late-night prank. So when the opportunity to spend a day at one of the city’s top summer camps came up, I was only too happy to take a trip down memory lane.

I arrive at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort at 9.15am, and am greeted by my fellow campers, who are already frolicking in the hotel’s pool. Sasinun Thuntanasatidpong, the Zumba instructor, has them wading through the ripples in a session of aqua Zumba. I immediately line up alongside her and attempt to show off my two steps. The kids seem more bemused than obedient – I can feel this day is going to be very interesting to say the least.

The kids work up a sweat, though I can’t really tell as they are in the pool, and love their time in the water – a great respite on a hot day. After the session, our instructors Prakash and Pushpa Kumara announce a round of pool volleyball. They make it a girls vs boys event – the oldest rivalry in sporting history. My competitive instinct kicks in and I decide to ditch my instructor role and jump in to join the team. Before we begin, our gang huddles up and starts with a “girls rule” yell. It’s game on. Both teams are determined not to give an inch, with the points flowing back and forth. With the stalemate unable to be broken, our referees decide to blow for full-time, declaring a draw. Pleased with our efforts and with high-fives all around, we move to the beach for our next exciting event.

The group is split into two – while one half jumps on a banana boat, the rest of us stick to dry land for a fin race using divers’ flippers. We learn very quickly that this discipline is anything but easy. While I struggle with my Gulliver-sized feet, I can only imagine how my Lilliputian friends are managing. There are tumbles and falls, but every kid picks themselves up and finishes – a valuable life lesson they seem to have picked up early on. We’re having a good time, but all of us have one eye on the boat that’s now returning to the shore. As soon it docks, we dart towards it and wait our turn. The first five of us strap on our life jackets and take seat. The girls are full of nervous giggles before we start and then our captain pushes down the throttle and picks up speed. Now, if you’ve never heard four pre-teen girls shriek in chorus, let me tell you it is quite a peculiar, undecipherable sound. At times, I’m unable to tell if they are shouting in glee or in sheer fear. But they keep reassuring me that they are A-okay. Our little dinghy craft repeatedly leaps in the air before splashing back down and bobbing around on the water. We love it! Looking at our cityscape from afar is also a magnificent sight, as the morning haze lends it a quaint charm. Before we know it, though, our little joyride is over and we pull back into the beach.

Still on a high after our water adventure, we head into the health club and settle into a session of arts and crafts, while part of the group heads off for a cycling session with resort manager Mohamed Elmorshedy. We colour away, but there’s a slow drop in energy levels. All that running around is catching up with us. Being a kid again is tiring, but a lot of fun!
Fees depend on number of sessions. Ages 5-14. Sun-Thu 9am-2pm. Until Sept 15. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, Corniche Road (02 6970 272).

Four to try
Activities for the summer

Skate camp
Keep cool as you learn to balance yourself and glide with grace on the ice. A session at Zayed Sports City will get you two on-ice lessons with professional experts and coaches, while the off-ice games will help you build endurance, flexibility and strength.
Dhs750 per session. Zayed Sports City, ice@zsc.ae (02 403 4333).

Learn French
Nothing says “culture” like learning to speak a new language. And where better to learn the French lingo than at an official French cultural centre?
Alliance Française, Villa 75, Al Bateen Street (02 612 2900).

Pottery class
If you like getting stuck into your art, a seat at the potter’s wheel is just what you need. Get your hands dirty, while learning how to make clay animals and jewellery, among other things.
Fees depend on number of sessions. Abu Dhabi Pottery Establishment (050 558 1584).

Sports and athletics
This is the perfect opportunity for your child to find out more about the sport he or she may like. Programmes are divided according to age groups and activities include swimming, aerobics, martial arts, gymnastics, football and basketball. There are even movie sessions.
Fees depend on number of sessions. Al Forsan, International Sports Resort, Khalifa City (02 556 8555).

By Vanessa Fitter
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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