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Best summer holiday courses for kids

Organised what to do with your kids over the next 8 weeks? Oops! Never fear, Muddy has your back with our timely guide to the best kids courses. Book em in pronto!

Some children have already broken up from school (gah!) and others are on the cusp of creating summer holiday mayhem. If you’re dazed and confused from dealing with them in half-term and wondering how the hell it’s suddenly July, relax sister – Muddy has your back with a whole host of kids courses across the region. Now where did we put that glass of wine?


West Oxfordshire’s Academy of Performing Arts, Witney, Oxon

Disney’s Robin Hood is the theme for 4 to 6 year olds for a week of fun and drama, Mon 13 to Fri 17 Aug with a performance for parents on the Friday from this inspiring community performing arts company. For older kids (7 to 16 years), songs from Matilda, School of Rock and High School Musical are rehearsed and performed in their School’s Out show from Mon 6  – Fri 10 Aug. From £4.50 per hour with early drop off and late pick up for an extra £10.


New Theatre Oxford, Aug workshops

This new series of workshops at the New Theatre Oxford look really good for those aspiring to tread the boards or work behind the scenes. All workshops are for kids over 12, except the musical theatre workshop on Aug 22 which is split into 2 sessions, one for 5 – 10 year olds and one for 11-15 year olds. This will involve learning a song and dance routine and a scripted scene from a current musical with a chance to perform up on stage as a group. There’s a special effects make-up workshop on Aug 16 which includes make-up demonstrations of cuts, wounds and bruises (kids will love it), as well as showing off special effects techniques. Also on Aug 16, a theatrical make up workshop will look at creating the perfect look for the stage, contouring, highlighting, theatrical eye and lip application and much more. If your child is more interested in the technical side of things, then on Aug 21 they can go behind the scenes and learn about lighting, rigging, sound and much more.


Camp Wilderness, Cornbury Park Oxfordshire, from Mon 23 July

cross between Swallows & Amazons and a Bear Grylls show, this sounds ideal for adventurous types, with wilderness cookery, fire-lighting, wilderness first aid, wild swimming, shelter-building, cricket and rounders, bushtucker BBQs, scavenger hunts and fireside stories. It ain’t cheap (3 day camp £249, 5 day camp £415) but what price to get them off their screens and back to nature?

Photography Course, Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Wed 1 – Fri 3 Aug

If you have an Ansel Adams (master of landscape photography in case you hadn’t heard of him – me neither) in your midst, this 3 day course by Sharp Shots Photo Club for children ages 9-15 will teach them how a camera works, what exposure means, how to use depth of field, shutter speed, and the fundamentals of composing an amazing photograph. At the end of day 3, parents can come and view their portfolio of work. The grounds of Waddesdon are stunning so great results guaranteed.


Oxford United Football Courses, Oxford Academy, from Mon 30 July – 24 Aug

If you have a football fiend in your midst, this is the ideal chance for boys and girls to learn from Oxford United’s skilled coaches. At £65 for each weekly session (9am – 3pm), it feels pretty good value too.


MK Dons Football Course, Woughton on the Green, from Mon 23 July – Fri 31 Aug

More footy, this time in North Bucks. Fun-based football activities lead by qualified FA licensed coaches where your little Harry Kane or Steph Houghton can improve his/her technique, improve decision making and gain new skills. The course is suitable for players who are already part of a local team (at least 6 months). Prices start from £36.75 per day and vary according to ability and age.


Mini Monets, Beaconsfield, Bucks, 25-27 July, 6-8 Aug, 28-30 Aug

If you’re child is more into art than sport, these 3 day workshops sound really inspiring. Camps are hosted by Debra Frances – the Head of Art at Chalfont Independent Grammar School no less – and feature pottery, sculpture, graffiti, screen paining, T-shirt design, painting and animation. There’s even street dance and Lego robotics if that seals the deal.  Choose from 5 or 7 hour days at £55 or £70 per day.


iFly Xscape, Milton Keynes from 23 July to 3 Sept

If you read our recent review of iFly you’ll know what a total BLAST it is to fly through an air tunnel in Milton Keynes! Over the summer, you can book a course of 5 fully coached flights for only £29.99 on selected weekdays. Suitable for 4 to 16 year olds. 


Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy, Bloxham School, Banbury, 23 – 25 July or 13 -15 Aug

A three day blast of cricket coaching, games and activities based on Twenty20 Cricket plus a visit from a star player who will pass on tips to reach the top. They’ll be a series of Freddie Challenges, small sided games and a World Cup Day. £47 per day or £125 for 3 days with the added advantage of an Extra Time Club for early drop off and late pick up. Suitable for girls and boys aged 5 to 16.


Ultimate Activity Camps, various locations throughout the summer

Based at schools, these activity camps provide great childcare options Monday to Fridays during the school holidays with plenty of fun and stimulation for the kids aged 4 to 14. They start at 9:30am and finish at 4:30pm but extended collection is available and children can sign up for any amount of time throughout the camps (a day, a week, weeks). At £45 per day or £204 per week, activities include use of the schools’ swimming pools, sports halls, playgrounds and classrooms for arts and crafts.

Available at: Abingdon Prep School, Abingdon School Sports Centre, Ashfold School, Davenies School Beaconsfield, Beachborough School Brackley, Maltman’s Green School Gerrards Cross, St Gabriels School Newbury, Oxford East Headington School, Oxford Farmoor Hill End Outdoor Centre, Oxford Chandlings School, Cranford House Wallingford.

For a more wild adventure, you can sign up your 8 to 14 year old for Ultimate Survival where outdoor activities and survival skills culminate in a night’s camping. £45 per day or £204 per week and available at Abingdon School Prep Mon 16 July to Thurs 23 Aug and Oxford Chandlings School from Mon 23 July to Fri 17 Aug.


Summer Camps, various locations throughout the summer

child hands kneading dough rolling pin

Another school based offering throughout Bucks/Oxon with a variety of courses to choose from. How about Lego Play for 6 to 12 year old Lego enthusiasts, Raw outdoor adventure for 8 to 14 year olds , a multi-activity camp for 4 to 12 year olds or a cookery course for 8 to 14 year olds? Prices start at £35.80 per day or £249 for a week’s speciality course. 


Bisham Abbey Sailing Courses, National Sports Centre, Marlow, Bucks, 31 July to 3 Aug

Despite being a long way from the sea, sailing is still a popular pastime on our many local lakes and waterways. Give your kids a great introduction by enrolling them on this four day course – there’s one for 8 to 12 year olds and another for kids over 12. Tues to Fri from 9.30 to 4.30pm.


Academies of Sport, Oxfordshire, various dates and locations

Plenty of three or four day courses to choose from here, and many for older kids which is a nice change – it’s always so much easier to sort out pre-teens. Excuse the list but it’s more useful for you this way!

Choose from the Dance Academy at Chandlings School Oxford from 30 Jul for 4 days for 8 to 14 year olds (£219); the Rugby Academy at Radley College, Oxford from 30 July for 4 days for 10 to 16 year olds (£219); the Netball Academy at St Gabriel’s School, Newbury from 31 July for 3 days for 9 to 14 year olds (£164.50); the Cricket Academy at St Edward’s School, Oxford from 31 July for 3 days for 9 to 14 year olds (£164.50) or the Hockey Academy at Tisley Park, Abingdon from 7 Aug for 3 days for 9 to 14 year olds (£164/50).


Halton Tennis Camp, Halton, Bucks, throughout the summer

Inspired by Wimbledon? Then send your offspring to our local leading tennis centre for tennis plus a whole list of other sports. My kids have done this camp several times and though none have tennis as their number one sport, they really enjoyed it. Junior tennis camp runs for 4 days at £176 and the multi activity camp runs for 5 days and includes hockey, cricket, table tennis, football, badminton, basketball, dodgeball, rounders, and of course, tennis (£165 for 5 days, £33 for one).


English National Ballet School, London

This is not a budget option but if your child is serious about a life in ballet, these courses are designed to give aspiring dancers a taste of student life at the famous ballet school, whilst improving their technique and making new friends. Mon 16 to Fri 27 July is for 15 to 19 year olds (£395 per week or £735 for 2) and Mon 30 July to Fri 10 Aug for 11 to 14 year olds (£375 per week or £720 for 2). You need to have had at least 4 years of ballet training to apply and the older girls will be expected to dance on pointe.


Oxford Royale Academy, Film Academy, Oxford

If you really want to push the boat out, then £5000 (!) will give your little darling a 2 week intensive course in directing, producing, camera operating and editing. Filmed in beautiful Oxford city locations, students will shoot on industry standard equipment and edit their work on professional editing software, taught by Steven Spielberg and Danny Boyle. OK, I may be lying about the last bit, but for that price they flippin should!  Accommodation and dining in Oxford Colleges is included so at least that’s something.


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