Summer camps aren’t what they used to be says Pierre-Louis Martin. It isn’t just about games, nature walks and story time. His school’s camp, the Champittet Summer Leadership Course, is designed to develop leadership qualities in young people through different activities. It’s what students want.
“They want a unique experience. They are multi-lingual, mobile and well-travelled individuals looking for a new and exciting challenge,” the boarding admissions advisor at Collège Champittet said.
Run together with the Swiss Leadership Academy, an institute specialised in creating courses and camps to develop professional and personal skills in school-age children, Mr Martin said what impressed families most was that the two-week camps are guided by expert trainers and education industry leaders.
“When I led camps at Champittet 12 years ago, it was boarding students who would lead activities for three-to-four weeks,” Mr Martin said.
“Now the coaches that run our camp are professional mountain guides, who are experts in leadership and outdoor and adventurous activity
Most impressive is the breadth of activities available for students to develop and hone their skills, including rock climbing to building a boat from cardboard cartons in two hours. Not to mention the numerous sports activities, workshops packed with games and excursions around Geneva.
These activities are integrated with leadership modules on areas such as goal setting, communication skills, interviewing and presentation, media training, video production and language lessons in French, to name a few.
Mr Martin said senior trainers work with students by sharing feedback on how they can apply learning outcomes from these activities and modules and develop skills that will enrich their lives and prepare them for the future.
“They develop a lot of self-confidence in a couple of weeks, that’s the main thing,” Mr Martin said.
“When they take on the boat challenge it’s interesting to see who takes the lead, which one designs, which one builds — it happens automatically. They know how to play to their strengths, they don’t need us to support them.”
Nicu Gaibu, Head of Summer Camp at Collège Alpin Beau Soleil said during their overnight camping trip, senior campers learn to problem solve and adapt when they’re put in different or difficult situations.
Alberto Berloni, who attended the school’s summer camp programme last year, said he learned the value of determination and resilience to stay the course.
“I learned that you should never give up,” Alberto said.
“Aim high, put in all your effort, and when you get to the top you can tell yourself ‘I did this’.”
The school’s Adrenaline+ programme is a unique opportunity for learning key skills. The range of intense activities available for thrill seekers help them to push past limitations they may have built in their minds. The highlight of the camp is a 4000-metre skydive.
“They challenge their fears and learn to be their own hero,” Mr Gaibu said.
Equally fulfilling are the friendships with like-minded students, making the summer fun and memorable.
“Last year we even did a colour and a foam party to add a fun element. When you see the kids covered in colour and foam on a football pitch running everywhere and taking pictures, it’s a sight to behold, the atmosphere’s amazing.”
Mr Gaibu said Beau Soleil will be introducing more excursions around Geneva so campers can get to know each other while being able to practise their French language skills.
“Lots of parents want their children to improve their English and French, so we want to provide a safe yet exciting environment [for them to that] and make their summer unforgettable.”