By Prathiba Raju, New Delhi, May 19 IANS | 1 year ago

Thirteen-year-old Amandeep Singh learnt to paint during the last summer vacation. This year, he has set his mind on kick-boxing, for which he is actively encouraged by his middle-class parents. His sister Simran, who is two years his senior, told her working parents that she wants to take up pottery - and wants to take it up as a career later in life.


These two are among the thousands of Delhi children who this summer are gearing for a constructive hobby that could be of use to them in the future too.

Apart from routine summer workshops like dancing, painting, drawing and skating, many NGOs, schools and private institutions are now offering one- or two-month long courses in horse-riding, kick-boxing, pottery, robotics, theatre and calligraphy. Some of them even offer board and lodging facilities for the children.

"I'm excited that I will be learning kick-boxing during the summer vacation," Amandeep told IANS. "I want to learn something different."

A recent Assocham survey on the rising craze for summer camps in the metros says parents, on an average, are ready to spend Rs.2,000-6,000 on them per child.

There are around 30,000-35,000 camps that operate in the metros and the mini metros - Bangalore and Hyderabad - and tier-II and tier-III cities like Ahmedabad, Kochi, Chandigarh and Dehradun, the survey said.

According to Assocham, the summer camps industry is likely to touch Rs.1,000 crore by 2017 from the current Rs.400 crore level.

Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat said: "Such camps give an opportunity to the students to become self-reliant. They gain immense confidence and the power to take decisions.

"The notion that students should be set free during vacations has changed considerably with the increasing popularity of summer camps," he added.

Anuradha Krishna, manager of the Children's Riding Club in central Delhi, said children have the option to stay during the summer camp.

"We do get more children during summer vacations. Apart from learning to ride they get to bond with the horses, groom their mounts and even take lessons in stable management," Krishna told IANS.

Katha, an NGO that also publishes books for children, also holds summer camps.

"This year we have interesting courses like on madhubani painting, a theatre workshop by eminent personalities, a toy workshop and story telling sessions," camp organiser Ritu Rattan told IANS.

"The response of the children has been really good. We charge Rs.500 per day. For the theatre workshop, which is for 10 days, we charge Rs.3,500," Rattan added.

Of late, the organisers of summer camps have been roping in celebrities to attract children. And, to spread the net wider, they dedicate 20 percent of their budget to promote the camps through print advertisements, hoardings and leaflets.

Genesis Global School, for instance, will organise dance classes with choreographer Saroj Khan. The fee is Rs.5,500 for a month.

But it is not all fun and games for the children. Some opt for learning more about science and its mysteries.

One such place to do so is the National Science Centre (NSC) in Pragati Maidan. It teaches robotics - how to design and operate robots. It also teaches children how to have fun with physics.

"Our aim is to improve the scientific temperament of the schoolchildren and expose them to various possibilities in science. Till 2008, there were not many takers. Now, over 1,000 students participate," N. Ramadoss Iyer, NSC's head of education, told IANS.

The centre runs five-day classes for students from classes 3 to 12 and charges Rs.1,200 per course.

There is, however, a flip side - if one could term it that.

The Assocham survey said parents in the national capital spend just one hour daily with their children during the summer breaks as the children are at these camps.

Poonam Singla, a resident of east Delhi, accepted that during the summer break she and her husband spend less time with their three children than during school days.

"We want the best for our children. We know we give them less time. But we do it for their future," Singla told IANS.

Shweta Kathuria, a mother of two, agreed.

"I want my children to join these camps as it instils more confidence in them. Also, they are doing something gainful and not wasting time watching television or playing video games," she said.

(Prathiba Raju can be contacted at prathiba.r@ians.in)

(Posted on 19-05-2013)