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Barbados has long been a favorite low-key getaway for vacationing families, but one of the better-kept secrets among parents – until now – is that since 2007 the Barbados Tourism Authority has been underwriting a free sports camp in August that’s open to local as well as vacationing kids between the ages of 9 and 17.
This isn’t your typical “dump and run” kiddie program. At Barbados Sports Camp your youngsters are coached in cricket, soccer, or netball (similar to basketball) by some of the sports’ most prominent stars. Most of the coaches are retired players, such as striker Mark Bright and midfielder John Salako, both formerly of England’s Crystal Palace football club. If your household only pretends to care about soccer during World Cup time those names may not ring a bell. That said, soccer aficionados might recall Geoff Hurst, whose goal against West Germany clinched the World Cup for England in 1966. Hurst coached soccer for the sports camp in 2008.
Whether the idea of this camp packs appeal for the remainder of this month or next summer you can inquire by email about reserving a space. Each week during August there are separate sessions for each sport, so you can, for instance, sign up one kid for soccer and another for cricket. You can enroll up to four children for as little as one day or for an entire week, though you might be able to stretch your child’s time beyond a week depending on availability; the camp permits 100 kids per sport per day. Children are split up by age group and there’s at least one grown-up camp staffer for every 16 kids.
Drop-off is at 10am at Banks Sports Club, located in the Wildey area of St. Michael Parish, about 10 minutes southeast of Bridgetown by car (incidentally, the club is affiliated with the Banks Brewery, which will offer you a free tour once your child’s in camp for a week). The camp day runs until 2pm or 3pm. You’ll need to send your child with lunch or lunch money and ensure you’ve packed him proper sports attire, including sneakers. The camp furnishes basic protective gear, like shin guards, but verify when you book precisely what gear is provided in conjunction with your child’s sport.
As with any camp you’ll need to sign a form attesting to your child’s good health and confirming you agree to the camp’s terms and conditions, including making sure your child understands that “swearing, abusive and hurtful language is not acceptable” and “aggressive behaviour or violence cannot be tolerated.” Yes, that goes for cricket, too.