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Fujairah parents struggle to keep children occupied during summer holidays

FUJAIRAH-sharjah // Parents are concerned about the lack of summer camps and sports activities for children in Fujairah over the school holidays.

With few centres offering indoor activities such as swimming, football and basketball, residents are at a loss over what to do with their children for the two months.

Finding an affordable camp is also a problem.

Jordanian mother Seham Al Shoulh, has been looking for a summer camp for her eight-year-old daughter without much luck.

“We can’t travel this summer to our home country due to work commitment,” the 38-year-old said.

“So we started to search for an affordable and ongoing summer camp. But it’s not an easy task. My daughter likes to stay at home and watch TV and play with her video games but I don’t like to see her doing just that during the summer break.

“Most of the camps run only for a few days, and some of them are for one hour a day, which is not enough. I found a summer camp programme that will cost about Dh300 for four days. For me, it’s expensive.”

An Indian mother of three said she knew of only two camps – one in Al Aqah, which was far from Fujairah city, and the other that offered music and dance classes.

“The area is in need of indoor sports activities venues and camps because there are no indoor pools or sports activity halls,” said Vidya Nair, 47.

“The duration of the camp in Al Aqah is four days. There are some nurseries offering summer camps but my youngest child is 11 and I can’t enrol him in it due to his age.”

Culture and knowledge development centres in Fujairah city and Masafi will offer summer programmes after Eid Al Fitr for children aged 7 and above.

“The programme has not yet been announced by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, but it will invest in youngsters’ talents and encourage reading,” said Ebrahim Al Shamsi, deputy director of the Masafi Centre.

But Sharjah residents have many options for their children during the summer break, although they are expensive.

“We checked out several summer camps and they charge between Dh600 to Dh1,300 a month,” said Egyptian Samah Ahmad, a sales executive who has three children aged between 7 and 10. “That (higher fees) can take its toll on our finances and savings.”

The problem becomes more complicated if both parents are working and there is no full-time maid available.

“My husband and I can’t take an annual vacation to travel back home or to stay home taking care of children, so putting my children in a summer camp is safer than keeping them home, or with a hired maid,” said Mrs Ahmad.

Shwetha Salian, from D for Dance Academy in Sharjah, said there was huge demand for summer camps. The academy charges Dh600 a month and Dh1,000 for two months.

“So far 37 children have enrolled in our summer camp, and we expect an influx of registrations after Ramadan,” Ms Salian said.

“We offer children a range of activities like dancing, clay modelling, aerobics, musical instruments learning, drawing, aside from field trips and bowling.

“Summer camps are a good option for working parents. Their children will be safe, learn new things and enjoy their break from school.”

Another Sharjah summer programme is more focused on skills development.

Irshad Adam, manager of International Holistic Guidance and Research Centre, which charges Dh800 a month for its camp, said: “Our summer camp gives children the opportunity to build their skills, such as public speaking, handwriting, character cultivation and self awareness, and confidence building, in a fun and interactive way with their peers.”

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(via The National)