his year, as the summer vacations drew nearer, everybody thought that these vacations would bring the same old fun activities, games and outings for kids. Many planned their foreign trips while others selected suitable summer camps to join according to their interests. When all these plans were being made, no one had the slightest idea that all the plans of jollity would go sour and for most of the kids, it was school time again. This was due to the last minute decision of the government to give summer vacations in July and August instead of June and July. So much for the summer camps and foreign trips - all cancelled. Instead of adventurous outings, parents were seen thronging uniform sellers and book shops. There were also those parents who were relieved that at least now they would be able to spend the holy month of Ramazan without having to wake up again after Sehri to get their kids ready for schools. The children were highly disappointed; especially those who had planned to join a camp this summer. "My vacations have just started and almost all the activities that I wanted to take part in are now over," says Ikrimah who went to school during the whole month of June. "It felt so weird waking up early for school when you knew that your cousins were at home sleeping because they study in Cambridge schools and were off in June."
Some parents were of the view that the government should have taken the decision a bit earlier. "Till the last minute we were confused whether the schools would be off or not," says Shahida Ahmad, a mother of two. "We were planning to go to Islamabad and Murree but could not plan our trip as we were unsure. It was a big disappointment for the kids too as we were going somewhere after five years. And now, in July it is not possible for us to plan the trip due to Ramazan."
"It was all kind of haphazard," remarks Nadir Moin, an accountant by profession whose children go to different schools. His daughter studies in a girls' school that is off for summer during the months of June and July whereas his boys' school were open in June. "Me and my wife assured our sons everyday that they too would get their vacations in July like their sister. It was very difficult for us to manage but thank God July is the time for holidays for everyone."
If on one hand these kids were slogging again, there were others who relaxed and enrolled in different activities to while away the hot days. However, there was a slight shift seen in the parents' attitude. Apart from sports activities, they were also inclined to enrol their kids in classes that helped them academically, such as that of computers, English and Maths. The idea behind was to keep the children 'in touch with studies' as one of the parents commented.
"We see so many holidays in an academic year due to strikes, tension in the city and other reasons," states Khadija Ameen. "When the year is about to end, the teachers start rushing with the syllabus and the students get confused. At that time, it really gets hard for them and the parents to cope hence I believe it is imperative that the child gets a head start during their vacations."
"It is good that the parents have become a bit conscious and are trying to help their child in improving his/her grades in their free time," says Darakhshan Badar, head of a school in Karachi. "More summer camps have cropped up offering to tutor and improve language and math skills since these are the major subjects that the students find difficult to understand."
However, various other summer camps have also been put up throughout the city offering a lot of activities for the kids, which include painting, clay work, karate, movie day, and other such activities that mostly involve arts and crafts. Hotels, as always, also offer various summer activities such as rock climbing, swimming and taekwondo. There are places that only offer sports activities and give coaching of various games namely cricket, soccer, tennis, table tennis, badminton etc. Their range of activities depend upon the facilities they have within their premises. This year many parks have also joined in and are providing sports summer camps as well. However, it is interesting to note that this year a new activity has been planned for the children by a major bookseller. They have roped in Khalid Anum to plan an event which aims at inculcating the love for reading in children.
One of the major concerns of the parents are the high prices that they have to pay to get their child enrolled. Summer camps with the lowest rates cost around Rs 4500 to 5000 per child on an average. The more posh the camp is, the higher the price. Those with more than one child have to keep a budget of around ten to fifteen thousand which is not affordable for most of the parents.
It is important to note that not all the summer camps are worth their price. "There is an English Language centre that charges very high for English lessons but is certainly not worth it," divulges one parent. "I sent my kids over there thinking they might get some good language skills but it was a total waste of time and money. So, I would advise parents to thoroughly survey before taking the final decision of enrolling their kids into such institutes and dishing out their hard earned cash."
Over the years the camps have become more crowded as more and more parents want to engage their kids in healthy activities during the summer vacations. They serve both ends - not only are they a good earning opportunity for various entities but also a means to provide kids with something interesting to look forward to during the hot days of summer. Such camps are definitely a blessing that most parents cannot do without when the vacations begin. With hordes of options available in every locality of the city offering a number of different activities, the only thing to do is to make the right choice while keeping in mind the age and interests of your kid.
Let's hope the government will not spoil the fun next year. Whatever decisions have to be taken regarding school activities should be carried out soon so that one can plan the vacations accordingly.