Summer camps struggle to make a comeback

After two lean years, some camps are back full swing. But a majority say admissions are yet to pick up
Last Updated : 29 April 2022, 07:10 IST
Last Updated : 29 April 2022, 07:10 IST
Last Updated : 29 April 2022, 07:10 IST
Last Updated : 29 April 2022, 07:10 IST
Last Updated : 29 April 2022, 07:10 IST
Last Updated : 29 April 2022, 07:10 IST

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Summers camps have gone offline in Bengaluru after two years. Some centres say they are overwhelmed with the turnout and are scheduling extra batches. On the contrary, many others told Metrolife that the response has not been satisfactory, and the spike in Covid cases is only worrisome.

Cost woes

The Training Central Cricket Academy has shut down three of its five branches since 2020 because the rentals were raised by 15% to 35% despite the downturn, says Vivek Goel, director.

Worse, the remaining branches have seen 15 enrolments each this summer, against a batch size of 40 in every branch in pre-pandemic times. This is even after the academy slashed the fee from Rs 9,999 to Rs 5,999 keeping in view that the pandemic has been hard on families financially.

“The pandemic has made the younger kids lazy. They prefer mobile games over outdoor sports,” Vivek comments on the low turnout. However, Lahe Lahe in Kodihalli increased the fee of its five-day summer camp by Rs 500.

“Given the inflation rates, it is fair,” says co-founder Mansee Shah Thard. Their camp for the 5 to 8 age group saw five takers when it would attract 10-15 kids earlier. The 9 to 12 cohort saw no entries.

This could be because the pandemic has disturbed the academic calendar. “Some schools are still open and some will resume in the second week of May. Summer vacations are shorter,” she surmises. This is also why Vivek has decided to wind up the cricketing camps a week in advance.

Even R Bhaskar, whose Sri Yogeashwari Training Institute is conducting a handwriting camp in Vijayanagar, has seen summer camp venues in the vicinity fold up, and facilitators leave for their hometowns.

“They knew they would face severe losses if things turned bad,” he explains. At his camp, the admission is down by 40%. “Parents are apprehensive to send their kids out due to the Covid scare,” he reasons. Because of this looming uncertainty, Anuradha Rao is not holding summer camps at her J P Nagar-located Untitled Arts Foundation this year. “An artiste got a lot of enquiries with a theatre camp for kids at our venue but parents could not commit. There were factors like the scare of a fourth wave, no vaccination for younger children, and paycuts they faced,” she explains.

A few venues have become dearer to hire. Theatre practitioner Archana Shyam wanted to book venues to hold summer workshops but the hourly charges have doubled in three years — from Rs 150 to Rs 300, she cites her experience. She is instead teaching at a camp on invitation at Suchitra Auditorium, Banashankari, where the turnout has been half than expected.

Salaries have also taken a hit. Swimming coach Sambhram Harikantra says, “I would make up to a lakh by teaching three batches in the summer. This time, I have to settle for Rs 60,000.”

Travel and study

For some parents, priorities have changed. Vikram Putagi, co-founder, Brain Art Studio, HSR Layout, says, “In the short summer vacation that families have this year, many have chosen to travel instead.”

Bhavana K, a Rajajinagar resident who hosts art and crafts camps for kids above eight years, echoes his views: “The concept of summer camps used to be very popular. But since the pandemic, families have learnt the importance of spending time together. Now parents want to travel with kids, and even teach them art and sports at home.”

Some parents like Ayesha Jameel from Rankanagar would rather have their children study. She says, “My son will join Class 10 soon. I want him to focus on his studies rather than do extracurricular activities. I am not happy with the online schooling he received.”

Others are glad that in times of Covid, summer camps inside apartments offer a safer alternative. “It also saves the cost and time on travel,” says Neelofer Syed, whose son is learning swimming in their Mahadevapura apartment.

Calls of concern

Parents we spoke to weren’t tense about their wards going to summer camps after the Covid cases started climbing. It is too early to panic, they say.

However, Shraddha Madhavan K, who is running TechPlayLearn robotics modelling classes for kids along Bannerghatta Road, says, “I just got a call from a young parent, who wanted to know how I will finish the classes or refund the fee if Covid peaks again.”

At The Learning Curve, Whitefield, parents have lately been calling to check on the hygiene protocols, informs Namita Khan, a co-ordinator. “Enquiries for the camp have come down by half,” she adds.

Published 28 April 2022, 18:14 IST

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