The NSW Office of Sport runs 10 Sport and Recreation Centres across the state. These range from the high mountains of Jindabyne to coastal locations like Lake Ainsworth at Lennox Head to Berry on the South Coast and Lake Burrendong in the Central West. The Sydney Academy is on the shores of Narrabeen Lake.
During school terms the 10 Sport and Recreation Centres offer outdoor adventure programs to schools. In school holidays there are camps for kids, some are day camps and some are residential. There are also opportunities for families and groups of friends to stay at one of these well-resourced centres.
My own four children have done a range of activities at these NSW Sport and Rec camps. They have stayed at Milson Island and Lake Burrendong on school camps. They have done day camps and overnight camps at Sydney Academy and the twins did a four-night ‘Kids Cooking’ camp at Milson Island when they were eight years old. They went with a friend who was nine and they they cooked for part of the day and did lots of outdoor activities like abseiling, high ropes course, bushwalking, kayaking and more for the rest of the time.
They came home delighted and completely exhausted… and then made chicken tenders many times.
Covid has played havoc with the sorts of camps and active holidays that are available through the NSW Dept of Sport. The best thing for families to do at the moment is to keep an eye on the website and also to call and chat to people in the department and at the Sport + Rec centres.
Here is a list of the locations of the 10 Sport and recreation Centres in NSW, each is set in stunning locations and there are over 40 different supervised activities on offer throughout the state.
- Berry on the South Coast
- Borambola in the Riverina
- Broken Bay on the Central Coast
- Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains
- Lake Ainsworth on the North Coast
- Lake Burrendong in Western NSW
- Lake Keepit in North West NSW
- Milson Island on the Central Coast
- Point Wolstoncroft on the Central Coast
- Sydney Academy in Sydney
Both the Kids Camps and the family camps are good value for money. Families can also rent out the camp accommodation, some offer catered accommodation and some are self-catering.
Here are some examples of the sorts of facilities the centres can offer.
Was Eight Too Young To Go Away To Camp?
When my twins first went to camp in the school holidays I did worry that, at eight, they were a bit young. But they were very keen and off they went, and they had a great time. Bear in mind that my twins have teenage brothers and are pretty independent though. The big boys went to a Sport and Rec rugby league camp when they were about 13 and 11. The twins had also been to Milson Island with their school so it was not all new to them. A lot of my friends would not have sent their kids off to camp alone at that young age.
When I asked others about this, I had some very positive replies.
Belinda said: I grew up going on those camps! I can’t remember what age I was, maybe 8, maybe a year or so older, but I loved them! She will have an absolute blast. The fact that your kids are going with a bestie will help if there is any homesickness and all the staff were really fantastic.
I have many fond memories of all the activities we used to do, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, overnight tenting, bmx riding, archery, etc. As you said, the staff are experts and will get in touch woth you if they feel it is warranted. But on all of my camps, which would be close to 20 at least, I cant remember anyone having to go home because of homesickness.
Sue said: I’m really thinking you wouldn’t have even considered it, if you didn’t think she was ready. We tend to know what our kids can handle.
Bell went on her first school camp when she was 9, and had the most amazing time. And if they are with friends, even more exciting!! x
Caro said: I was a latch key kid at eight. I think parents need to get over themselves and let their kids take a few more risks. The chances of anything going ass end up are minimal and the learning experience will be fabulous.
I love seeing my kids becoming more independent. And to be honest, I love the freedom their independence gives me.
Video of School Holiday Camps
With Covid the situation has been very fluid, so the best thing to do is to keep an eye on the NSW Office of Sport website and see what will be on offer in the next school holidays.
Do you send your kids to camp?
Have you done one of the Family Camps yourself?