Not a normal summer but still an opportunity for an amazing experience…
Wow what a year 2020 has been so far. The whole world came to a halt in March and we all went into lockdown. What a shock to the system. Everything we knew came to a stop – no meeting friends, no going to work or school, no international travel. Our big global world suddenly became small and we all had to stay at home.
For young people with no school they suddenly had to get used to working independently at home, having their parents teach them and learning online. Online learning has been a successful for some and a disaster for others. Kids have missed the experience of learning in a classroom with their peers and all the benefits that go with this.
However, it has not been all negative as families have done more together and we have discovered how technology can help us stay close to those we love. Zoom’s shares have rocketed and it has been a great launch for MS Teams.
Our Academic Summer permanent team works from home during the year so the remote working was not new to us. As the summer bookings stopped we decided to be creative and we launched Academic Summer @home offering our unique academic camp online. We started in June and the feedback has been great and it has been good to see younger kids to older teenagers joining us. They have participated in live online lessons with our tutors covering a range of subjects as well as joining Leisure Online and participating in activities such as keep fit, cooking with our Italian chef, art and many other things. We have also had budding doctors, engineers and computer science specialists joining our online Get Ready courses. We have been so delighted to see young people still enjoying their summer camp experience online. Academic Summer @home will certainly become part of our offering in future years and we will have other courses during the year and not just in the summer.
For Academic Summer, everything stopped for us just as it was about to get busy and, like for any other company, it has been really tough. We were planning courses in Canada, UK and Switzerland. We were getting ready to celebrate our 10th year at Sidcot school, our staff were recruited and the leisure programmes booked.
Canada the borders didn’t open internationally so we had to cancel all our camps which was a great disappointment as we love the great outdoors of Canada and the real camp feel that the country offers.
Switzerland announced summer camps could run and on the 11th July we were able to welcome our first students to Switzerland. This is our first time in Switzerland so we were delighted it was the first camp to start this summer. One thing that struck us was how fantastic it has been to see the young people, in our care, having a great time and being able to enjoy a camp this summer. They are learning, exploring Switzerland and meeting new friends. This seems so special after what we have all been through.
In the UK we have been waiting and waiting for the government’s announcements and at last travel corridors were put in place so some countries could travel to the UK without the 14 day quarantine. We have been frustrated by the lack of clarity and messaging from our government. However, at last we are all ready to start in Cambridge this weekend (25th July) and are looking forward to welcoming students to our first camp this summer in the UK. Although we are, of course, disappointed we cannot welcome every nationality and we hope more countries are added soon. We are running for four weeks so our next arrival date is 8th August so we are hoping more youngsters can join us then. If you are quick it is still not too late for this weekend!
It has been great to get excited about being able to offer two small camps this summer and we really cheer every time we get a booking. It reminds me of when Academic Summer first started with the desire and passion to succeed and grow. We appreciate our partners and families that are supporting and trusting us this summer and it is a real privilege to be able to offer these opportunities.
This summer will be different. Firstly we are smaller so our camps are more like small families which gives them a special feel. We are a ‘bubble’ which is a term that has begun to be used during this time and is used to define a group of people who you have close contact with each other and can support each other. We are pleased to be able to have Academic Summer ‘exclusive bubbles’ in Switzerland and Cambridge which provide a safe circle of support for young people to have a great summer camp experience.
We have planned a very different leisure programme and we are very excited about it. We want to help young people to become great leaders and reach their full potential to achieve high levels of success. There won’t be the same trips to big crowded cities or shopping trips or visits to busy tourist destinations. However, this has given us an opportunity to be creative and we can guarantee a fantastic time. We will be exploring the beautiful countryside around Cambridge, Oxford and Norfolk as well as enjoying some smaller city trips. Our camp participants in Cambridge will take part in our leadership course and go home with a qualification as well as enjoying our normal academic subjects in small classes.
Our desire is to teach youngsters new skills so they put down their mobile devices, try new activities, are challenged and learn how to become good leaders and entrepreneurs.