Jewish Chronicle: A holiday to remember

26 March 2004

They used to say schooldays were the happiest days of your life. But if you’ve ever attended a summer camp, I’m sure you enjoyed it much more than school dinners and double maths.

And the good news for grown-ups is that camps, like schools, now undergo an inspection by the government’s Office of Standards in Education, so parents can be sure they’re choosing a safe, well-run place to send their offspring.

One organisation that take its responsibilities very seriously, while at the same time ensuring kids have a wonderful time, is XUK, which operates a number of residential camps. Its website at offers links to its latest Ofsted reports. Owned by Richard Bernstein, XUK also runs friendly day camps called Mini Minors and Cross Keys, for children aged three to 12.

XUK is for six to 17-year-olds who enjoy a programme of varied activities. Participants travel by coach to New Eccles Hall School, in the middle of rural Norfolk.

They are divided into groups by age and could find themselves taking part in anything from quad-biking, football and volleyball to cookery, pottery and drama. Other sessions might include tennis, rocket-making or clay pigeon shooting.

On the programme for evening entertainment there might be a film, outdoor games, a talent show, a fancy-dress show, disco, karaoke, casino night, a wide game or a scavenger hunt. There are also lots of optional extra, such as an outward-bound visit or diving lessons.

The kids sleep in girls-only or boys-only dorms, which others of a similar age. Looking after each dorm, there is an approachable and caring leader, to whom the children can talk about any concerns they have.

At the non-residential Mini Minors day camps, children spend their time in a range of fun activities, while Cross Keys kids specialise in art, drama or sport. The camps are held at well-equipped sites in North London.