As American as the Norfolk Broads
Camp America. For anyone who thought a summer separation was desirable but that a transatlantic crossing was taking things too far, good news. It's come to us. As American as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Camp America is up and running on the Norfolk coast, run by residential pros Camp Beaumont.
Two age groups: seven to 12, and 12 to 17-year-olds. Eighty per cent will be solo travellers. Older campers have separate facilities.
Pretty awesome. Geographically it's got everything from mudflats to salt marshes. There's a beach on the doorstep and, of course, those broads. If you think Norfolk's flat, Camp America's elevations include a high ropes course, a climbing wall and even a climbing mountain.
There are more activities to choose from than you can shake a baseball bat at (the multi-activity camps offer archery, pottery, scuba diving, fencing and rifle shooting, among other things).
Children between 12 and 17 can even have driving lessons (on a disused airfield, that is). There are also themed activity weeks for budding Branaghs (stage and screen), Schumachers (motorsports) and Tigers (golf) plus watersports, riding and tennis.
What will they learn?
How to make their minds up sharpish, given the enormous choice of activities. But it's a fair bet that most children will improve existing skills, learn new ones and, thanks to a buddy system, have a good chance of making friends.
What will they live on?
Three meals a day, as well as mid-morning, mid-afternoon "juice breaks" and cocoa at bedtime. Though whether anyone will be able to keep their eyes open long enough to drink the latter is arguable. Special diets catered for.
What goes on when the sun goes down?
They say it's just as exciting as the day, which may or may not be a comfort to parents. There are discos, talent shows, barbeques and quizzes.
Single-sex dorms of various sizes. Adult sleeps close by.
Keeping in touch
As a parent you can visit once a week (Thursday afternoons ) but you are discouraged from telephoning, especially in the first couple of days. Messages can be passed on but otherwise it's got to be pretty serious for you to be able to interrupt activities.
Camp Beaumont can collect children in person, or there are a number of coach pick-up points. Alternatively they will meet from, and deliver back to, train stations, or airports.
What does it cost?
Multi-activity #163;279, specialised sports #163;289 per week. Transport to and from camp extra.
And if they hate it...
If any child is unhappy after his or her first day and does not want to face a second, there's a money-back guarantee.
Contact: Camp Beaumont, Worthington House, 203-205 Old Marylebone Road, London NW1 5QP. Tel: 0171 724 2233