Summer camps 2023: A guide to the best and most popular sports camps
The summer is long – it may not feel that way if you are a child but it certainly does to many parents.
Summer camps often serve a double role – keeping children entertained, busy and learning, while also acting as a de facto child-minding service. Choosing the right camps for your loved ones is an annual – and often quite expensive – task.
We have divided the in-person camps into two – below is a guide primarily for those who love being outside and active during the summer holidays.
If you would prefer a list of non-sports-related camps, check in next week for our comprehensive guide to those camps (next week’s guide will focus on such delights as camps offering drama, art, coding, science and language). In the weeks ahead, we’ll also be compiling a list of virtual camps, which gained in popularity during the Covid pandemic and are still favoured by many children.
First, though, is this guide to the best and most popular sports-related camps on the island of Ireland this summer. Hopefully, you and yours will find something that catches your interest.
For outdoor types who would jump at the chance to try kayaking, archery, obstacle courses and the like. There are lots of activities promised by the organisers at the impressive grounds of Killruddery Estate.
- Location Killruddery, Bray, Co Wicklow.
- Dates and times Five days, six hours each day, from late June to the end of August.
- Ages 7-13. There is also a three-day teenage camp for 12-16 year olds, June 6th-8th.
- Cost €170.
- Website aliveoutside.ie
These are multi-activity outdoor camps, with activities including Bubble football, Nerf AstroWars and Speed Radar. If you don’t know what any of those things are, ask your child. The emphasis is on fun.
- Locations Tallaght and Coolock, Dublin.
- Dates and times Five days, 9am-3pm, through July and August.
- Ages 4-12.
- Cost: €99 (€80 for 4-day camp due to bank holiday)
- Website astropark.ie
Have you ever watched an Olympian throwing a javelin or doing the high jump and thought: “I wonder when and where they first started that sport?” Well, for many, it was probably at a summer camp. Athletics Ireland camps are not just about running, though that’s obviously a big component.
- Locations Nationwide, or, at least, in most counties.
- Dates and times Five-day camps, 10am-2pm, through July and August.
- Ages 6-12.
- Cost €65.
- Website athleticsireland.ie
If your child enjoys badminton, or would like to try it out, perhaps Mark Topping’s camps are worth a try. The emphasis is on fun and “exploring the wonderful sport of badminton”.
- Location Terenure Badminton Centre, Whitehall Road, Dublin 12.
- Dates and times Five days, 10am-2pm, July 3rd-7th and August 21st-25th.
- Ages 6-17.
- Cost €150.
- Website childrensbadmintoncamps.com
BASKETBALL IRELAND CAMPS
A residential camp, the Basketball Ireland National Camp continues this summer, with two sessions taking place in Clongowes Wood. The Limerick camp is aimed at players interested in 3×3 basketball (though no prior experience of this format is required).
- Location Clongowes Wood College, Clane, Co Kildare and University of Limerick.
- Dates and times The Limerick camp will be June 25th-30th. The two sessions in Clongowes will take place July 3rd-8th and July 9th-14th.
- Cost €550.
- Website ireland.basketball/national-camp
CONNEMARA MATHS ACADEMY
What is a camp with “Maths” in the title doing in the sports guide? Well, while the CMA camps are about Steam (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths), they are also centred on indoor and outdoor activities, such as swimming, kayaking, basketball and tennis. The camps are popular with overseas students, so airport transfers are offered.
- Location Rockwell College, Co Tipperary & Headfort, Kells, Co Meath.
- Dates and times Four one-week camps in July in Rockwell, and a one-week camp in late July/early August in Headfort. Weekly camps with residential and day options.
- Ages 7-17.
- Cost From €350
- Website connemaramathsacademy.com
For complete beginners, as well as those who already love batting, bowling and catching, the camps are designed to provide children with an opportunity to develop cricketing skills.
Location Richard Beamish Cricket Grounds, Mardyke, Cork.
Dates and times July 3rd-7th & July 31st-August 4th. 10am-3pm, Monday-Friday.
Cost From €120.
Deucepoint Tennis and Multisport Camps return again this summer in four Dublin locations in July and August. It’s a chance for children to try their hand at tennis in a fun and laid-back environment, along with other field sports while also learning the ABCs of sport (ability, balance and co-ordination) from an experienced coaching team.
- Locations Terenure College, Castleknock College, Cherrywood Educate Together NS and Harold’s Cross NS.
- Dates and times Morning and afternoon camps available from July 3rd.
- Ages 5-15.
- Cost €70.
- Website deucepoint.ie
FOTA ISLAND ADVENTURE
An adventure camp that boasts an obstacle course, archery range, orienteering and something called a Battle Royale – which pits two teams against each other using Mega Nerf series cannons, blasters and guns. That sounds like paradise for some children.
- Location Fota Island Resort, Tullagreen, Co Cork
- Dates and times Four hours each day for five days, through July and August.
- Ages 7-15.
- Cost €160.
- Website fotaadventure.com
Catering for the beginner as well as the sports-obsessed child can be tricky. Cúl Camp coaches will have plenty of both types of boys and girls during the summer on GAA fields. The popular camp is focused on fun ways to learn and develop skills in camogie, hurling and football.
- Locations Camps will take place in all 32 counties. No matter where you live, if you are on the island, there is a Cúl Camp near you. There are even a few camps held overseas.
- Dates and times Five days, 10am-2pm, from late June until the end of August.
- Ages 6-13.
- Cost €75 (£65) for first child; €60 (£50) for second; €50 (£45) for third.
- Website kelloggsculcamps.gaa.ie
You don’t need to know your flat pass from your drag flick, but this is a camp for young players who want to improve their hockey skills, as well as those who would like to try out field hockey. Hockey Express also run goalkeeping clinics.
- Locations Kilkenny, Kildare, Offaly, Tipperary, Westmeath and Wexford.
- Dates and times Three-five day camps through July and August. 10am-2pm.
- Ages 5-18.
- Cost From €60.
- Website hockeyexpress.ie/camps
JUST 4 FUN KIDS
A multi-activity camp, the Just 4 Fun Kids camps are “not just based on enjoyment and participation, but also on the social development of the children, along with improving team work skills”. Lots of activities are promised, indoor and outdoor, all based on keeping children engaged and active.
- Location Several locations in Cork, Kerry and Limerick – including Bantry, Kinsale, Carrigaline, Clonakilty, Glanmire, Killarney and Tralee.
- Dates and times Five days, 9.30am-3pm daily.
- Ages 5-12.
- Cost €110.
- Website just4funkidscamp.com
KILLARY ADVENTURE COMPANY
Multi-activity, camping expedition and Spanish-language camps are offered on the northern edge of Connemara. With a mix of land- and water-based adventures, activities include kayaking and archery.
- Location Leenane, Co Galway.
- Dates and times Five-, seven- and 14-day camps, in June, July and August. (Residential and non-residential camps are offered).
- Ages 8-17.
- Cost From €160-€1,442.
- Website killaryadventure.com
A fun-filled week, the Let’s Go camps offer children the opportunity to try new sports and make new friends. Activities include KMX karting, human table football, inflatable games, hockey, flingsock games, lacrosse, football, team challenges, wrecking ball, pony cycles, roller racers and lots more.
- Locations In locations throughout the Republic.
- Dates and times Five days, 9.30am-3.30pm, in July and August.
- Ages 5-12.
- Cost €120.
- Website letsgo.ie
Olympian Gymnastics will be running a wide range of gymnastics camps across Dublin this summer. The inclusive camps suit everyone from regular gym stars to children looking to try something new during the holidays.
- Locations Five venues: Greenhills (Olympian HQ), Knocklyon (St Colmcille’s Community School), Templeogue (Templeogue College), Milltown (Alexandra College), and Ballinteer (Wesley College).
- Dates and times July 3rd-August 25th. Traditional Gym Kidz camp: 9.30am-1.30pm and 2pm-6pm. Gym Tots, Advanced Gymnastics, Parkour, Boys’ Class, Gym Fit: 2pm-6pm.
- Ages 3-16.
- Cost €80-€125.
- Website olympiangymnastics.com
PSA RUGBY ACADEMIES
Increasingly popular camps, the PSA Academies offer high-level coaching for children dreaming of being the next Brian O’Driscoll or Sophie Spence. The development camps see coaches from the pro-rugby game deliver a skills and physical development programme.
- Locations Four camps in Ireland – at Cistercian College Roscrea, Co Tipperary; Kilkenny College; Midleton College, Co Cork; and Newbridge College, Co Kildare.
- Dates and times For Irish academies, Sunday to Friday, residential; and 8.30am-3pm, non-residential. July and August.
- Ages 10-17.
- Cost: €270-€510.
- Website psaacademies.com
A great chance for children to learn to navigate and surf the ocean waves and shores safely. The camps teach beginner, intermediate and advanced surfing techniques, with all levels of confidence and fitness welcome, from beginner to expert. Water safety is, of course, part of the course – with all equipment provided.
- Location Strandhill Beach, Co Sligo.
- Dates and times Every week, Monday to Friday – June, July and August.
- Ages 7-18.
- Price €140.
- Website rebellesurf.com
A camp at a location that already hosts karting, footgolf, frisbee golf and paintball sounds interesting and fun. There’s also something called a “giant bean bag toss”.
- Location Knocknagalliagh, Co Kildare.
- Dates and times Four days, 9.30am-3pm daily, during July and early August.
- Ages 7-12.
- Cost €99.
- Website redhillsadventure.ie
RIP ‘n’ RUN
Rip ‘n’ Run, set up in 1998, is a series of basketball camps for players of all ages. Apart from lots of court games and drills, the residential and non-residential camps at DCU also include other interesting parts to it, such as nutrition talks.
- Location DCU Glasnevin, Whitehall, Dublin 9
- Dates and times Two weeks – August 6th-11th and August 12th-17th.
- Cost From €299 (non-residential) and €465 (residential).
- Website ripnrun.com
ROSSNOWLAGH SURF SCHOOL
Catering from Turtles (beginners) to Sharks (experienced), this Donegal surf school promises a summer week your child won’t forget. The award-winning camp teaches each surfer the fundamentals of surfing and ocean safety in a fun and relaxed environment, under the watchful eye of instructors.
- Location Rossnowlagh Surf School, Rossnowlagh Beach, Co Donegal.
- Dates and times June, July and August, Monday-Friday, two hours each day.
- Ages 8-16.
- Cost From €120.
- Website rossnowlaghsurfschool.com
A camp that will appeal to parents who want their child to experience an introduction to rugby, as well as those children who are already active members of a local club. The camps are focused on improving rugby skills in a fun, safe environment.
- Locations Island wide – with most counties hosting at least one camp. For example, Munster rugby are running camps in 23 venues during the summer.
- Dates and times Five days, 9am/9.30am-1pm/1.30pm through June, July and August. Campbell College, Belfast, is also hosting a 2-3 night residential camp.
- Ages 6-12.
- Cost €70-€90.
- Website The provinces run the camps in their areas – connachtrugby.ie, leinsterrugby.ie, munsterrugby.ie, ulsterrugby.com
Shuttlerockers Badminton Camp will be led by one of Ireland’s top badminton players, Louie Lyons. The camp is suitable for beginners as well as advanced players, and will be a mix of badminton and SAQ (speed, agility and quickness) drills. There will also be a mix of games and mini tournaments.
- Location Castleknock College, Dublin.
- Dates and times August 14th-18th.
- Ages 5-17.
- Cost €85.
- Website shuttlerockers.ie
One of the most successful organisations at distracting children during the summer months, the FAI (in the Republic) and IFA (in Northern Ireland) summer camps are a great way for soccer-obsessed children to get their fill of action. Some venues even host more than one camp during the summer, with discounts if a child books again. It is also a useful way for clubs to attract new members.
- Location Throughout the island.
- Dates and times Five days, 10am-1pm, throughout July and August.
- Ages 6-14. (In Northern Ireland, it is 5-13).
- Cost: €80 for first child.
- Website summersoccerschools.ie (in Northern Ireland, see irishfa.com)
There are some great camps on offer at the home of Irish sport – including multi-sport camp, gymnastics camp, teen camp, junior preschool camp, trampoline camp and diving camp. There is also an inclusive camp, which is fantastic for parents of children with varying needs and abilities. This camp includes basketball, boccia and volleyball, with the focus on having fun and making friends, as well developing physical and sporting ability.
- Location National Sports Campus, Blanchardstown, Co Dublin
- Dates and times Five-day camps. Camps run 9am-3pm, but Breakfast Camp (7.45am) and After Camp (3pm-5pm) are available at an additional charge. Junior Preschool Camp and Inclusive Camps finish at 12.30pm.
- Ages 5-14. (Kids camps are for 5-12, with teen camps for 13-15).
- Cost From €75.
- Website sportirelandcampus.ie
Suitable for beginner and intermediate players in particular, the camps are led by former Irish number one Lesley O’Halloran. A great way to learn and develop skills on the tennis court.
- Location: Grosvenor Square, Rathmines, Dublin.
- Dates and times: 10am-1pm. Two camps in June, four in July.
- Ages: 5-16 years.
- Cost: €75-€110.
- Website: stratfordtennis.ie
Getting swimming lessons for children is not easy in Ireland. There are often waiting lists involved as demand usually outstrips supply. iSwim Academy is offering “intensive” swimming lessons during the summer.
- Location Club Vitae Tallaght & Liffey Valley, Dublin.
- Dates and times From July 3rd to August 25th.
- Ages 5-12.
- Cost €80.
- Website iswim.ie
Owen Casey represented Ireland at three Olympic Games and held ranking on the ATP Tour for 15 years, so this is a coach who knows what he’s talking about. Still, the camps are for all ages and abilities, from basic technique to match tactics in a fun and friendly environment.
- Location Mount Pleasant LTC, Ranelagh, Dublin.
- Dates and times Four-day & five-day camps, 9.30am-12.30pm. June, July & August.
- Ages 5-16.
- Cost €125-€150.
- Book email@example.com
A camp to keep children engaged and entertained in the heart of Dublin city centre. The programme includes games, aquatics, dance, gymnastics and other indoor and outdoor activities.
- Location Pearse Street, Dublin 2.
- Dates and times Five days, 9am-4pm, July 3rd to August 25th.
- Ages 4-14 years.
- Cost €180-€190.
- Website tcd.ie/Sport/children
TROJAN GYMNASTIC CLUB
Rolling, handstands, cartwheels, swinging, climbing, turning, jumping, leaping and balancing. If that sounds like something your child would love to do, Trojan Gymnastic Club may be the place for him or her. More advanced gymnasts will progress on to walkovers, aerials, round-offs and handsprings.
- Location Holly Avenue, Stillorgan Business Park, Co Dublin.
- Dates and times Five-day camps, 9am-1pm, June 26th-August 25th. Junior Camp (3-4) is 9am-noon.
- Ages 3-12.
- Cost €150-€200.
- Website trojangymnasticclub.com
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