Sun tan, sweating faces and mud-covered dresses were the usual sights during pre-pandemic summer vacations. But the past two summer vacations were confined to the four walls of houses for almost all children across the state due to the spread of Covid. This year, as annual examinations in schools in the capital city are nearing completion, various individuals and organisations are hosting offline summer camps for children across the district.
Personality development to basic plumbing hacks
Ensuring fruitful vacation sessions this year, most organisations have come up with social skill development programmes as they say the children are having behavioural syndromes due to the pandemic and lockdown. Fun outdoor games, swimming, theatre and farming activities are the highlights that most parents look forward to in summer camps.
Lessons on good and bad touch, child-safe cooking, basic stitching and ironing etc are also planned to empower children from a small age. The organisers believe that the demand for summer camps has increased as the parents feel that their children have been deprived of non-academic activities due to online classes.
Rajesh Chandran T T, director of Theatre Academy for Media and Performance (THAMP), Peroorkada, said his academy is focusing on engaging children in theatre acts and life skill workshops in its two-month summer camp which began on Thursday The camp for the six to 16 age groups is a therapeutic session for personality development using fine arts and theatre as a tool. “Clay modelling, drawing, music, dance and folk games are being designed in a way that engages all five senses of the children. We have included soft skill sessions to make them understand the importance of accepting failure and team work,” says Rajesh.
The camp activities at THAMP begin after a regular one-and-a-half-hour session of martial arts as a warm-up practice. Apart from the games and interpersonal activities, some of the camps like ‘Explorlife’ organised by The Friends School based in Venpalavattom offer basic life skills for children from classes 1 to 9. George K Thomas, director of the institute and coordinator of the eight-week camp, says the sessions are designed to make children become more practical and responsible in life.
“The youngsters nowadays lack problem solving, confidence, positive thinking etc. These soft skills are not taught in schools nor do children experience these from their parents. So our camp provides practical life engineering skills like ba-sic plumbing, electrical and mechanical works which will come handy for them in future. To repair a flush tank is simple which many of them don’t know and rely on plumbers. If they know the basic plumbing techniques, they can save time and money. Similarly, tying a fuse wire or changing a fused bulb can be done with basic practical knowledge. House-keeping, bed making, administering first aid, and good and bad touches are necessary skills to become self-sufficient for all genders, ” says George.
Need for outdoor sessions a big concern
The lack of exercise has made a large number of children obese which is another reason the parents like Lekha Sukumaran wants to send her children to summer classes. The mother of 12-year-old twins says, the offline summer camps are welcoming. “Though their academic sessions were ensured through online classes, their physical health got weakened in these two years. It is a relief for many working parents like me to make their children finally let out and safely enjoy their childhood outside like in pre-pandemic days. However, these summer camps must also ensure Covid proto-col on their premises,” says Lekha, a native of Pattom.
Jayakumar MG, a physical trainer at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Senior Secondary School, Manvila, says lack of activity has resulted in poor motor skills in small children. The teacher says online classes have limitations to engage the children throughout. “The socialising of students with teachers and friends in school campus will boost the motor skills of children in classes 1 to 5 which lays the base of their behaviour and personality. So, activity-oriented summer camps will help them get back into becoming active.”
From the health angle
Concerns like child obesity and behavioural issues due to the pandemic outbreak are raised by parents across the city, says Dr Arun B Nair, professor of psychiatry, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram.
According to him, this year’s summer camps will play a crucial role in reinstating the lost physical and mental health of the children due to pandemic. He says real-life social interactions, exercises exposed to sunlight and outdoor activities are essential to sustain the overall well-being of children.
“In 2021, the psychiatry department in the MCH carried out a research study on 600 children aged 13 to 18 years as many cases regarding poor scholastic performance due to online classes were reported. We found that 86% of these children had Vitamin D deficiency. These children showed backwardness in studies, less energy with weak immunity and low information processing in the brain. So, the right amount of sunlight exposure with physical activities are a solution for these. Due to the secluded atmosphere in houses, children suffered behavioural issues, lack of eye contact and poor communication skills,” he says.
The doctor also noted that children are getting addicted to gadgets.