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Taking A Summer Language Course

A plethora students benefit from French, English, German, Spanish and Mandarin language trips, with the wide range of languages available leading to an increase in diversity of trip that are featured on our program. The beauty of language trips is that they allow students to have an immersive language learning experience which in turn offers a valuable contribution to personal development.

Taking a summer language course is beneficial because it provides students with a very worthwhile experience as well as enhances their understanding of foreign languages. In addition to this, being able to write and speak in another language is a much sought after skill in regards to their future careers. Many colleges and universities want to see students that have taken another language in their academic studies. What better way for students to learn a new language than combining sightseeing and exciting activities with a chance to practise speaking with the locals. This is the perfect introduction to the target language and culture.

True definition of a language trip

A language trip can be defined as combination of a language course and a vacation. The environment can vary from internships or traditional classrooms to field work depending on the student’s age. Our language learning course program also includes group activities and cultural study.

Les Elfes Summer Camp Switzerland language courese

All our summer language course programs are different, depending language preference, need and degree of learning. Some courses are intense, while others focus more on the holiday aspect. Students, with their parents’ guidance get to choose between a more casual program or a complete immersion experience.

Why it is important for your child to take a summer language course

Taking a summer language course is important because it offers opportunities to experience the natural environment of that language everyday. We understand and agree that language learning immersion programs are one of the best ways to learn. There are a myriad of options for students who want to combine language study and a summer vacation. This way, they get to learn language for practical purposes, to learn something about art and history or to improve their business acumen.

Letting your kid join a language trip program is convenient in that you are allowing a professional else to handle all the paperwork and logistics. This way, your kid can just focus on enjoying their adventure. Part of our job is to also check visa requirements, make all arrangements for the kids’ accommodation as well as airport transfers.

Who qualifies to take a summer language course?

The phenomenon of taking a summer language course is popular across various age groups of students. Therefore, the excursions are tailored for kids of all ages. Students go on language trips to take a break from school. This way, they get to combine their summer vacation with something productive and fun.

Benefits of a summer language course

A summer language course has plenty to offer, whether you want your kid to focus on their academic and career future or self improvement. Below are some of the benefits of taking a summer language course.

Helps to develop language skills

Summer language courses provide many language development skills. For students looking to advance their verbal and written language skills, all they need to do is choose a course on English or any other international language. In addition to this, they get to learn specific academic terms as well as develop the vocabulary they need to complete an international education.

Offers an opportunity to study in a famous international city

Part of taking a summer language course is to also experience other cultures. By studying an international language, students get a chance to study in famous countries or cosmopolitan cities including the following:

  • Shanghai
  • London
  • Paris
  • Madrid
  • Athens
  • Rotterdam
  • Spain
  • Iceland
  • France
  • Ireland
  • The US
  • The UK
  • The Netherlands
  • Among many others

By taking a summer language course you also stand a chance of discovering impressive architecture, experience great cuisines, visit excellent museums and galleries all of which offer a highly enriching experience.

Helps to support their college or university application

For high school students, selecting a summer language course can help them decide if they want to pursue a master’s or bachelor’s degree related to the subject. This way they also get to upgrade their university or college application with relevant academic achievements. Older students who are interested in learning a new language can choose a course that will prepare them for them for various college or university entrance exams. Keep in mind that any evidence of interest in a particular subject matter will prove that the student is committed to excel in their academic pursuits especially since we live in a high competitive academic environment.

It helps increase self-confidence

A great way for students to prove that they are capable and self-reliant individuals is to successfully completing a summer language course program. Students who have taken a international language course have a higher chance at succeeding in enrolling in a highly rated university or college. Additionally, the short-term experience abroad offers enough insight into your kid’s life thus challenging them to dream higher. Therefore, taking a summer language course helps students access their true potential, silence their doubts and give them the confidence to pursue their dreams.

Helps them understand independent learning

Usually, students focus on cramming as much information as their brains can especially during a demanding academic year, in order to pass their exams. And instead of encouraging students to discover their potential, most teachers concentrate more on covering their set targets. The benefit of taking a summer language course is that it places heavier emphasis on skill development as well as stimulating creativity, self-reliance and curiosity.

Quenches their thirst for knowledge

If your kid’s school doesn’t offer a particular language course that they might be interested in, then a summer language course offers students plenty of options that will quench their thirst for knowledge. Even if they don’t know what language they would like to learn, they can browse through our extensive list of summer language courses. This might even inspire them to try out new study opportunities.

Helps to make new friends

Taking a summer language school course is the perfect way setting for students to make new friends. This is because the environment is highly interactive and welcoming. Through interacting with their classmates as well as participating in social events, your kid gets a chance to start long-lasting friendships. Even if your child is shy, they will find it easier to open up all thanks to the friendly atmosphere, the acceptance of diversity, shared interests of the participants and the small study groups.

Help improve their grades

Increasing exam outcomes is one of the obvious reasons why students should take a summer language course. The extra study hours helps them improve and strengthen their knowledge of that language especially since they are studying outside of the typical school environment. Both effective and innovative learning methods may even provide them with new ideas about how they can approach learning in general. This way they also get to gain practical skills such as learning how to apply effective techniques when studying something new.

Helps them have plenty of fun

A summer language trip can be a very entertaining and exciting experience. In addition to other great opportunities to interact with like-minded students, innovative class activities can be great social icebreakers. While here, your kid gets to participate in special parties, events as well as city trips thus making their summer school trip experience an unforgettable one.

Helps them to get inspired

Different students apply for a summer language course for various reasons. Some simply want to engage in a summer school study to occupy their time during the long summer holiday. Therefore, if you want your child to benefit from a fresh idea, then a summer language course may be the best plan.

Language school trips and tours

There is no better way of reinforcing a student’s classroom-based learning than by being surrounded by native speakers, exposed to their culture and being immersed in their daily rhythms of life. When students get to visit the destination of their target language, they open up a whole new learning experience. By taking a summer language course, students get be to challenged, engaged and inspired in the practical application of the target language.

Our language enrichment experiences are designed to develop comprehension and conversational skills through a wide range of exciting target language-focused activities and excursions with an emphasis on enrichment experiences.

Students also get a chance to interact with native speakers who help them build their confidence when communicating in the language that they are studying, in a variety of social situations. It doesn’t matter what your child or teen’s ability is, their experience can be brought up to exactly the right level needed to enrich their learning thus enabling them to engage with the target language as well as enjoy all the benefits mentioned above.

Remember, speaking a foreign language comes with countless benefits and always offers an advantage in our modern society.

International School Trips For Kids

Fun fact! Did you know that Europe is divided into a 44 incredible countries? If you are talking about the European Union, there are 28 countries. Switzerland, which is where we are located is not actually in the EU, but is of course in Europe.

Europe makes it a perfect place to go on legendary international school trips for kids. The historic sites, picturesque landscapes and cosmopolitan cities of Europe offer plenty to keep school-going kids of all ages entertained. From adrenaline-fuelled bike riding and hiking the great Alps to visiting cultural places, you are guaranteed to find a whole host of options for your kid. Whether they would like to understand the origins of Western civilization or simply want to seek a higher culture, a school trip in Europe will prove to be worth the while.      

Hiking

There is something about taking in the sensory joys of landscapes coming back to life, so the best time to hike the Alps is between May and October. Offering dazzling mountain scenery Alpine lakes, mountain streams, fir forests and hundreds of glaciers, the Alps is the best supported trekking and hiking destination in the world. It also offers plenty of walking and hiking opportunities for people of all ages. The heart of the Alps opens up to reveal a fascinating mountain world where both climbers and hikers can roam and master the various trails available. Remember,  the Alps are an extensive mountain system stretching over eight different countries.

In addition to all these, there is no better place that one can enjoy drop-dead gorgeous mountain scenery and never have to carry anything more than a light day pack. This is because there are a plethora of well-linked accommodations, spaced out nicely along its length. The Alps also offer magnificent day hikes that are not only well marked but also easy to follow. This way, one can hike the mountains from either direction. It also means that you can enjoy the wildflowers ,waterfalls, wildlife, mountain scenery and glaciers during the day and still move on to the next alpine destination or be back on town before sunset.

Some of the treks on the Alps are defined by high alpine passes and trails that have been used for hundreds of years and some even more. Making hiking in the Alps, one of the best international school trips for kids.

Camping

Peaceful, untouched, neatly tucked between the firs and pine forests, a slice of heaven, all these are words used to describe camping. The countryside is often overlooked by most city dwellers thus why it offers a learning experience of life outside of the bustling city. Camping also shows a slower and kinder image of the countryside. Stunning Alpine campsites can be found right across the Alps as well, surrounded by glaciers, meadows, forests or frozen rivers thus epitomizing the wonders of high-altitude camping.

In Europe, camping is a great way to revisit the simplicity of nature without necessarily giving up on the every day comforts. The lazy afternoons, bird calls and meandering trails can be a welcome distraction from every day living. In addition to this, camping is equals to the warm glow of a campfire and star-filled nights. It is quite an old-style outdoors holidays where children of all ages can enjoy,  either goofing around the campsite or taking  nature walks

Wild camping is not allowed in In some parts of Europe, meaning that one can only camp inside a camp-site where services, tourists and any other thing you need can be found. Other than that, the Alps tend to be significantly populated, such that you are bound to come across villages near almost all the places on the ‘must visit’ list. While snow news is good news, when it melts in Spring, the Alps turn into a paradise for nature-lovers, sport enthusiasts and also walkers.

The Alps is a hidden gem that features plenty of options for both outdoor adventures and relaxation. There are a plethora of reasons for going camping in the Alps including taking in the fresh air, fresh scenery, fresh experiences, fresh food and fresh blooms. Offering a traditional alpine way of life,  camping in the Alps is also a good way for refreshing your senses, taking in the scene and admiring the beauty.

Ski trips

Europe is the world’s best destination for ski enthusiasts. Thousands of people enjoy ski resorts in Europe because they are among the most stunning in the world. The snow record, diversity of slopes and picturesque views are among the many reasons to go skiing. From December until the end of April, the prestigious Swiss resorts in Verbier, La Tzoumaz and Crans-Montana offer great skiing activities. All the ski trips are fully supervised and guarded with professional instructors and staff from when the kids arrive at the airport of the destination.

Ideally, since the Alps cover such a great area, it hard to clearly define when the skiing season truly starts or ends thus you can ski all year round depending on where you plan on going. Even with some man-made creations, pristine parks and sparkling snow help to beauty the place a little better. While skiing during winter months make more sense, the summer and spring months months in the Alps are almost beautiful. In fact, kids are bound to have a more memorable vacation when they go skiing during summer. This way, they can try out other activities such as hiking or trekking the excellent foot paths to experience the Alps from a new point of view.

A myriad of ski resorts found along the Alps have everything your child may need. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether they are pro at skiing or they just want to enjoy the experience. In Europe, skiing is a long-standing tradition especially with the Alps providing a magnificent background and skiing wonderland. Some of the slopes have even been the subjects of films. All your child needs is to come ready to hit the slopes with their snowboard or skis.

Bike riding

Biking is becoming popular especially in the lesser-explored regions in Europe. During the summer the Alps are a truly magical place for mountain biking, offering epic rocky descents, high-altitude blasts and hidden single tracks. Bike riding in the Alps is a fun activity and a good way to pursue personal health goals as well as attain a feeling of accomplishment.

Of all the destinations of the world for riding a bike, none is as defining and integral to the activity as cycling in the Alps. Stretching over 1,200 kilometers across Europe,  the Alps are a grandiose mountain range that features majestic valleys, soaring snow-capped peaks and high-altitude grassy plains, all of which are characteristics of the best known mountains in the world.

There is no region in the world that has had a greater impact on cycling together with its history than the Alps. The best time for cycling in the Alps is September, regardless of which part of the range you choose to visit 

Learning languages

The best way to become deeply involved in other people’s culture is by being able to talk their language. This is why language learning is included in some of the school trips. This way, students can dip their toes in the water with a beginner’s course or go all out with an advanced language immersion program and language exchange.

In a number of European countries, children have to start leaning a second language that is not necessarily English. Since kids tend to acquire languages using different principles, they learn languages faster than adults. Since most European countries speak more than one language, they is plenty to keep your child occupied. Gorgeous scenery, crisp and clean air as well as other fun activities offer a great way to enjoy Europe as well as learn a language or two. Therefore,  if your kid is interested in adventure and immersing themselves in some specific culture, then consider getting them to take language learning lessons.

Visiting cultural places

Europe is the only place in the world with a plethora of art galleries and museums, all of which are both exciting and educational for young minds. There are also tens of thousands of cultural activities that students can take part in. 

In addition to this,  Europe is the birthplace of some of the  most profound artists. Thia has helped us to change  the way we view the world and living. It is here where the likes of  Leonardo da Vinci, Dali, Duchamp,  Shakespeare, Picasso, Baudelaire, Van Gogh, Renoir and Cervantes among many others were born.

Europe also has some of the most beautiful landscapes that inspired the most beautiful decorations and paintings that may be seen in films. Another good thing about visiting cultural places in Europe is that it is easier to move from one place to another using the speed train. There are plenty of interesting cultural spots where one can learn a lot about the European history.

Everybody loves a good European adventure whether it is going hiking, camping, skiing, bike riding or simply visiting cultural places. While here, one can never ran of fun activities to do or places to go. Therefore,  if you are looking for a city break for culture-rich long vacation, Europe is one of the best places for international school trips for kids.

Summer Camp Activities

What would you do if you could come up with a list of summer camp activities, that would make any camp director swoon?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing more and more of the parents contacting our camp thinking and saying the same thing.

Oh no, not another summer like last year, where your child sat inside all day complaining that there was nothing to do, while you fought as hard as you could just to get them off of their iPad.

Nope, not this year. We are going to give you a list of summer camp activities so engaging that your child will be bounding out of bed every morning, eagerly awaiting to hear what is on for the day.

Well, that’s the hope at least…

Bike Riding (with the family):

I know this one sounds obvious, and maybe you’ve tried it before but how about trying to tie something more relaxing into the activity to give it more appeal. For example, instead of saying let’s go for a family bike ride, how about burying the biking aspect in with “How about we go on a family picnic where I make your favourite lunch dish, and we go for a swim in the cool lake?”. When asked how you’ll get there, then you slide in the, Well, by bikes of course.

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It’s been known that children, and teens of this day don’t get nearly enough exercise during the summer. Because not every child has the option for summer sports activities during the summer months, you’ll have to get creative ways to get children off of the couch at home, and out into the glorious summer sunshine. What better way to do this than by good old fashioned bike power.

Rock climbing wall at the local gym

Many gyms these days have a climbing wall right inside the gym. How about taking your child to the local gym? You’ll first need call them to find out if they have a climbing wall, but I bet you’ll be surprised that they do. Then the outing could be down to the local gym, where they often give you a free pass to check out and try the climbing wall. This is a great activity, and you may surprise yourself by finding your child has a knack for climbing that they never knew about. This happened to my sons friend last summer, and now he’s hooked.

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Many of the rock walls have a free session for children where the children can train with a trained coach or expert, and they’ll lend you the shoes, harness and the ropes are already there. Just make sure to bring your own socks!

Friendship bracelets

Friendship bracelets are really easy and fun to make. All you will need is some yarn, or coloured floss to weave together, some tape, and some fun doo dads to hang off the bracelets. I’ve seen children use beads, and other trinkets to make them more fun or personal. Even beads with letters, so they could put their friends name on the bracelet.

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If you want to see a more detailed description of how to make these check out this site.

Homemade Ice Cream

Now what other thing reminds us more of summer than ice cream? And making your own ice cream, or even better, having your child or teen make ice cream is an age old summer activity that will be sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. You would be surprised at how easy it is to make, and even with only a few common household ingredients that you likely already have on hand.

Ingredients

2 -3 cups (16oz/450ml ) heavy whipping cream, cold

14 ounces (1 Can/ 400ml) sweetened condensed milk (fat-free or regular), cold

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (optional)

For additional flavours, you can go as crazy as you want. Think mango puree, strawberries, salted caramel, kiwi, the list goes on and on, and who can forget about chocolate sauce.

Instructions

  1. Place sweetened condensed milk in the fridge to keep cold.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cold cream on medium/high speed until soft peaks form.
  3. Pour the cold condensed milk into the whipped cream.
  4. Whisk until the mixture is thick and stiff peaks form. Then mix in your vanilla or other flavours that you like. How about some fresh blueberries that you might have picked from a nature hike that morning?

In case you didn’t know, this is what stiff peaks looks like. I was always confused by this term myself until I tried making ice cream and later a tiramisu. You’ll need to whip your ice cream mix until it reaches the consistency of the below.  

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Then, just stick in the freezer, wait a few hours and enjoy!

Ring Toss

A few years ago, we went on a family vacation to Jamaica with a few other families. There was a simple game that was a ring, tied to an old piece of fishing line that you had to stand a few meters away from and swing it onto a spike stuck in a tree. Believe it or not, this simple game provided hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. Nevermind that the adults turned the activity into more of a frat party drinking game, it was still fun. Be creative and tie in some tricks or prizes into the mix, and you’ll have an instant and nearly free activity that can entertain children for a few hours the rest of the summer.

Giant Bubbles

OK, this might be for the younger ones, but I’ve even seen the street performers standing at the stop lights trying to earn a few dollars with this one. It’s pretty fun to watch. The recipe is you’ll need is: 6 cups water, 1 cup corn syrup, and 2 cups regular strength dish soap. The corn syrup as you might have guessed is the key to allowing the bubbles to get really big.

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Stir mixture into a shallow tub. Dip blower into solution, lift out, and blow. Or even run with the soapy mixture into the breeze and let a huge bubble fly.  As you can see from this image, you can get some sticks and some string to make the area for the mixture to cling to. Then just add the breeze by running, and let those giant bubbles fly.

A makeshift puppet show

This activity is as easy as it sounds. Grab some old socks, paint some faces on them, and let your creativity run wild. You can even cut out some yarn and glue on a wig, or get as crazy as you want for the puppets themselves. Just do like you see in the movies and have your child hide behind a box or table that is turned on its side and reenact Shakespeare or be their silly selves. It may sound corny, but this one has brought our family and friend to tears as the children make up funny stories and enjoying bringing out the hidden thespian.

A family visit to a nearby historical site or museum

Oh, the horror, a museum and learning in the summer? But wait, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There are plenty of museums or historical sites that are a lot of fun to visit in the summer. Many museums these days have fun science experiments or educational how-tos to illustrate fun activities and lessons to children and teens.

Your own ropes labyrinth adventure park

You or your child / teen can make a labyrinth park.

What’s a labyrinth park you ask?

Well, it’s like a maze but labyrinths are designed so that you can’t take a wrong turn to get out. You walk through the labyrinth, and of course making it is the most fun part. The even better part is that this is likely a multi day project, and one that you can actually turn into a garden centerpiece if you want.

The first step is to draw out your design. To give you an idea, here is what a labyrinth could look like. Once you have a design you like, you’ll need to buy some rope and steel to construct the labyrinth. I told you this was a multi day project, but it doesn’t mean you need to construct in consecutive days, it could be done throughout the summer if you wanted. Once you have the rope and stakes, measure it out according to your diagram and hammer the stakes into the ground to attach the ropes. A more detailed explanation with all of the steps can be found on this excellent labyrinth making post.

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Here’s what it could look like at the end of the creation.

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Neighbourhood Football/Soccer match OR capture the flag

When we were growing up, we used to put together football/soccer matches all the time at the local school ground, or park that could accommodate the size needed. In fact, I’ve been doing this nearly my whole life. Even during beach vacations. We would just grab anything that could make a goal post (a shoe, a coconut, a stick stuck into the ground) whatever we could find. And voila, you have an instant impromptu football pitch. Now, start inviting the neighbours or your friends to come and play. You can make it more organised and create flyers, even game shirts for teams and with Moms bringing over a different snack for the children to have during the match.

The other really fun thing to do for all ages is capture the flag. With capture the flag you don’t even need a field, in fact, it’s better without a field. You can designate a loose area in the local forest or wooded section near your house. Organise into two teams, separate by age differences, boys, girls and create the boundary and general rules.

In case you don’t know the rules, they are quite simple. There is a flag that usually a person or persons stand near to guard. This is usually away from the front neutral area towards the front of the game area. Then there will be some offensive aspect of the team that will try and sneak into the other team’s area to try and capture the flag without being tagged. To get out or caught, you just need to be tagged by a member of the opposite team, while you are in “enemy territory”.

If a member of the opposite team tags you while trying to get the flag, you are put into “prison”. Usually a team of the defence then needs to guard the prisoners, because if a member of the offensive team tags a prisoner, all prisoners are released.

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We have found both football/soccer matches and capture the flag to be equally as fun with adults and children of all ages playing together.

A nature treasure hunt

A lot of children and teens likely have done treasure hunts, but a natural treasure hunt is done with a natural twist. Examples of hints, or clues are below, but you can make it more natural by having the hunt be articles of nature. Examples could be pine cones, moss from trees, types of rocks, or different types of leaves.

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Likely, your teen will be rolling their eyes at this one, but you can make it more fun by having a prize that you know they will enjoy.

A family hike

Being from the Swiss Alps, this is a hugely important family activity. It helps when you have some of the most stunning alpine and mountainous scenery in the world, but hikes are a great way to get outside and enjoy any type of environment. No matter where you live. There are many apps in the Apple app store or Google play store that will give you great information on where the best hiking areas are in your area. The app will tell you based on your physical fitness ability what is most appropriate, the length of the hike, what features you may want to visit (fishing, swim in a lake, reach a mountain peak).

Here’s picture of my sons and dog on a local hike near where we live. Not bad, eh?

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Plus, tell you where to park to find the trailhead. You don’t need to live in Switzerland to enjoy a family hike, so go out and do some hiking or walking today.

Talent show

Talent shows are great fun for the family. They can be as elaborate as you want them to be, by inviting your friends to take part, and even other families to put on competitions. Children and teens love the opportunity to show off their hidden talents, be they in singing, telling stories, playing instruments or acting out a play that they wrote. Maybe you have a comedian in your family, and this will give them a chance to shine. Jim Carrey used to put on stand-up every day after school, you’ll never know what you may find out about your child’s talents until you let them show them off.

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Make tapas

Tapas, in case you’re not familiar with them, are small, sometimes even bite sized snacks with origins from Spain. In the Basque country, the area around the border of Spain and France, tapas are a way of life, and nearly all local restaurants serve them from lunch through to dinner. The idea of having a number of small dishes with a wide variety of choices has become so popular, tapas restaurants are opening up around the globe. Chances are you have even had them yourself while never having visited Spain.

At our camp, we make tapas and the campers love the idea having many options to choose to eat.

Here are a list of some of our favourites. And the good news, is that most of them are quite easy to make.

Spanish omelette – This is an egg dish with potatoes, olive oil, and other spices. If you want the exact recipe to make this one, you can check out this comprehensive tapas recipes.

Calamari – Any way you cut it, people love calamari, or fried squid. It may be a bit difficult to get if you’re located in a land locked area but the idea is some type of chewy white meat, cooked in a light tempura or batter, then complement with some lemon zest. Careful to make enough of this one, because it’s very popular.

A mix of local cheeses and hams – No matter where you live, you likely have access to cheese, try and go to the local butcher or gourmet shop to get some good ones. Traditionally, the cheeses that are used for this are Manchego or Mahon but you can make it with some different types that you like. Stiltons, goat cheese, strong cheddar cheese. Then compliment with some good bread, and some ham’s (Iberian cured ham is great if you can find it). Add some walnuts and some grapes, and you’ll have a real tapas dish.

Olives – That’s right, just plain olives and I usually find the ones that still have the pits inside them have the best flavour. If you take the pit out, for some reason some of the strong salty flavour is lost. Usually, it’s best to have a mix of olives, black and green and with different sizes.

Patatas Bravas – This just potatoes baked with a bit of paprika and spice sprinkled on before you place in the oven. To make it traditionally the Basque way, use some aioli sauce, which is made from mostly garlic and olive oil. Who doesn’t love those?

To get your creative juices flowing, here’s a shot of a plate that might get you inspired.

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Well, this is just a few ideas that we think might be enough to motivate your child or teen up off of the couch, off of their iPad and out into the bright beautiful summer sun. We hope that you’ll find some inspiration from these ideas.

In case you are wondering where these ideas came from, many of these ideas are ones that we encourage or use with our own campers. We are an international summer camp located in the heart of the Swiss Alps. With children and communities from around the world, we have been entertaining children for more than 30 years. So we know a thing or two about how to keep children busy. Our camp actually runs from December through August too. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, or more about the ideas we wrote about, just hit the button below to get more information. We’d love to chat with you about these ideas, or even to hear some of your own.

Now go out and enjoy some summer sun!

Winter Activities For Kids

There are so many fun things to do during the winter it may actually be our favourite time of year. For this week, we’re going to give you a list of our best winter activities for kids that you can do with your teen as a family activity.

We realise that you may not live in an area that has winter, so bear with us on this post. It’s written mostly from our perspective as being winter people that experience 5 to 6 months of snow, ice and winter temperatures. If you don’t live in this type of climate, there are still a few activities in this list for you. We promise.

If you’re like us, there are time that you may be thinking, it’s too cold to go outside. Or your child or teen may be saying, I don’t want to go outside!  You couldn’t be more wrong. The winter is exactly the time to go outside. Nothing will refresh or revive your soul better than breathing in the lovely clean winter air.

So to get you inspired, let’s go down through some of our favourite winter activities and a few others to get you and your pre-university aged children outside.

Skiing

Well, this one is an obvious one for us because we’re located in the heart of the French Swiss Alps, but skiing is a brilliant past time to do with the entire family and it doesn’t always have to be done at an expensive resort. Yes, it can be expensive, but there are days when your local or semi local ski mountain have discount days, or breaks to go night time skiing. If you are from a warmer climate that doesn’t have skiing, then why not think about booking a ski vacation to somewhere that does. Not all of the ski resorts have to be posh and expensive, there are some great smaller local mountains in places like Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, British Columbia (Whitefish mountain lift ticket in the $60 range) Idaho (Silver Mountain), Utah (Alta – sub $40 lift ticket), Montana (Discovery, Snow Bowl, both have sub $50 lift tickets), Colorado (Wolf Creek), Maine, Vermont (Mad River Glen – $28 lift tickets) New Hampshire and Quebec. That’s just a quick list to give you an idea.

Another activity if you don’t have a ski mountain near by is just making your own ski park in your backyard. My two sons have spent hours entertaining themselves by building rails, small jumps and obstacles in the backyard. This is easy to do, and costs nothing to make. Just grab some boards, plant them in the snow and start sliding. You can be as creative as you want with this one. My boys have created rails that slide to jumps, to other ramps onto PVC pipes that they found at construction sites. Days and days of entertainment for a restless teen during the long winter months.

In Switzerland, we have some mountains that cost less than 40 francs (about $40 USD or £34). Search for some of the off the grid places, and you might be surprised at some of the deals that you can find.  Our own Swiss mountain of Verbier, located in Valais canton has over 412 km of skiable terrain. There’d be plenty for your child to do here, and never be bored. A real winter wonder dreamland.

Snow Boarding

Skiing’s up and coming brother, snowboarding was made popular by skateboarding and surfing enthusiasts back in the early ‘80s. They actually had some wooden prototypes even earlier, but for the most part snowboarding wasn’t accepted at mountain resorts until the boards were modernised and given P Tex bottoms and metal edges. These were to make it so they were actually safe enough to stop and turn on the icy slopes. Snowboarding has a bit of a steep learning curve if you don’t come from a skateboarding childhood, but once you’ve done a few face plants and remember to keep that downhill edge up, some say it’s actually easier to learn than skiing.

The great thing about snowboarding however is that you can do this easily in your backyard, local golf course or in the woods close to your house. If you live in an area that gets snow, but doesn’t have a ski mountain why not think about picking up an old snowboard at a used discount price so you can have it in your repertoire as a standy by winter activity to use for those days when you feel like you’ve been house-bound for a few too many days.

Ice Skating

Probably one of the most popular winter olympic sports to watch is some aspect of ice skating. Whether it’s hockey, figure skating or speed skating there’s no denying that ice skating is a fun after school or weekend winter activity for your teen ager. It’s OK if they are just starting to learn to skate. That awkward bent ankle gait won’t last long after a few sessions out on the local pond. Grabbing a hockey stick also makes it easier as you have something to lean on, almost like a crutch to get you off your shaky and wobbly knees.

Broom Ball

The other non skate alternative you can do on ice if you don’t have the patience for learning to skate is broomball.

Yes, it is just like it sounds. Brooms, sometimes with the bristles or the brush cut down and taped with duct tape and some type of ball played just like hockey. You don’t need pads, skates or goals. Just good old cold weather and a bit of frozen water. I’ve even heard of people building a rink in their yard by running the hose for a few hours and letting it freeze.

Ok, now that we got the more obvious winter sports out of the way, how about for some of the not so obvious.

Torchlight Walk In The Forest

Generally, we don’t recommend that children and teens start building their own torches, especially with fire. Too many things could go wrong in that type of situation but you can just grab some flashlights and go for a moonlight walk one evening. You’d be surprised at just how quiet the woods can be, and how beautiful and clear the winter stars can be when you turn off the torches.

Of course, you can play torchlight tag as well (flashlight tag for Canadians and Americans).

This is a game where one person stands as a guards at the base with a torch, while the others in the group are given a time to sneak out of distance and try and get into the base without the guarding shining a light on them. I have even heard this game called prison break, because you can imagine a prisoner trying to sneak out of the prison yard without the search lights shining on him. Of course, the stakes aren’t nearly as high, but the fun they can have playing this game will keep them out of the house for hours.

And that’s what we want.

Night Campfires

Yes, we have campfires all the time in the winter as part of our winter camp activity. It sounds cold, but if you dress right, you’d be surprised at how pleasant it is sitting by a campfire in the winter months. The fire warms you, and you can have fun quizzes, tell stories or roast different types of food in the fire. We call it the outdoor TV, as the group always sits around the fire mesmerised staring into the licking flames.

Snowball Fights

Sorry, we’re dipping back into the obvious but have you thought about making this a bit more organised. You can build forts with teams, and make a pyramid of pre-made snowballs that are ready to be hurled at the opposing team. Just like our post from last week, where we separated into teams for capture the flag, you can play a similar version but with snowballs.

Snow Tubing or Sledging

Snow tubing is just like it sounds. Go to the local gas/petrol station and buy a large inner tube. If they have large truck or lorry tubes, they’re the best. Inflate, and find a hill to slide down. The best thing about tubes is that they are much softer when you get thrown into the air off of a big jump. You can land and bounce off of the tubes, unlike the hard plastic sledges that often end up leaving bruises. To get more serious about it, you can build lanes for your tubes with berms and corners to ramp up on and get going really fast. This adds an exciting element to the tubing, and it’ll create hours of entertainment making the lanes. With any luck the lanes should last most of the winter if you keep using them after each snowfall. As long as the snow lasts a few weeks at least!

Our campers love using the local hills to slide down in tubes and wooden and plastic sledges.

Build a snow fort or snow man

Building a snow fort or snow cave can be a lot of fun too. Just be careful not to make the roof too thick. If the snow falls on your or your child during the excavation, it could be just as dangerous as being covered with snow in an avalanche. Not to be an alarmist, just keep it in mind if you start building a deep snow cave that the snow above you doesn’t get too thick that it will entrap you while building it.

On the much safer side, you can build a snowman complete with carrot, stick arms and coal eyes. Frosty would be proud.

Host A Snow Sculpture Competition

If you want to move past the snowman building and get really creative you can host a snow sculpture competition complete with prizes for the best sculpture with bragging rights to last for years to come. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to shape the snow as compared to other sculpting materials. All you’ll need is a shovel to build the base, and a kitchen knife to do some of finer shaping.

How about having them outside building a pretend TV scene? A lot better than the other way around.

Make Ice, Salt and Food Colouring Decorations

If you’re from a colder climate, you’ve probably heard or seen people salting their driveways, sidewalks or streets. That’s because salt, when added to ice, has a lower melting point If the temperature is just a little below freezing, the salt will help that snow or ice melt. Well, you can use salt, ice and food colouring to make your own fun ice decorations.

Here is what you’ll need.

Ice, or snow. You can even take bowls of water and freeze them in the fridge overnight.

Salt. Rock salt, or just the plain inexpensive table salt.

Food Colouring. Try and get a few colours.

Once you have a block of ice, that you either froze or chipped away from piece outside, just sprinkle the salt on the ice. You’ll see that small rivets are formed in the ice giving it a pocked  appearance. Then, drip small amounts of food colouring into the meted sections that the salt formed to create a beautiful looking piece of snow art.

As you can see, these were made in a place that wasn’t exactly experiencing winter. So you can do this in one of those winter climates that doesn’t have ice outside.

Cinema Night

Well, we had to have one in door activity. But you can have a movie night, invite friends, and then watch a movie about playing, skiing or snowboarding outside. This will get your teen excited about going out the next day.

You can also host a disco night, have in door games with prizes to keep your teenagers having fun when it just is too cold, too rainy, or they’ve already been outside enough.

Our campers love these types of activities, as it gets them socially active and meeting new people, or bonding with their friends.

These are just a few of our most preferred winter activities for teen agers and pre university youngsters. We hope it gives you some ideas during a dark winter day, when you’re just fed up seeing or hearing your child say that there isn’t anything to do outside. If you quickly go through this list, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to do even if you don’t live in a place where a snowflake has ever hit the ground.

If you have any questions about some of the activities that keep our children and campers busy, just feel free to send us an email at info@leselfes.com. And please send us your own ideas for your favourite winter activities. We’d love to update this list ourselves.

 

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