Looking for fun things for the kids to do this summer? Considering summer camp in Germany options?
Whether you are thinking about language camps in Germany or just ones that are about pure fun, we have all the information we have learned about summer camp Germany options from the perspective of English-speaking foreigners that want to give our kids these experiences but are confused by the information online.
We did a lot of research on summer camps in Germany before booking our 10 and 12 year old into a camp on our recent Germany trip.
They had attended a German primary school in our home city of Melbourne so were bilingual until the pandemic hit and they had two and a half years of very little Germany speaking opportunities. We hoped a summer camp in Germany would help kick start their German again.
Below is everything we have learned through this experience from working out the options beforehand to booking our kids in and our kids attending summer camp in Germany.
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Introduction to Summer Camp Germany Options
Going to a summer camp in Germany can be tons of fun. Your kids can visit small villages, theme parks and have some amazing German experiences.
And this is easy to make happen as there are many summer camp options in Germany. It seems to me that it’s quite popular for local kids to go to camp during the summer which leads to tons of Germany options, and there are also many language-learning camps as well.
They broadly fit into two categories:
- Language camps aimed at kids who want to improve their German with daily instruction
- Camps for local kids which are focused on the outdoors/a special interest and having fun
We ummed and ahhed between the two since our goal was to improve the kids’ German.
Language camps seemed the easier option as the information is plentiful online in English. However, being in a classroom daily did not sound like fun on holidays and I was concerned about the amount of kids at the camp who may speak English – meaning that when the kids weren’t in lessons that they may speak English most of the time, like what we experienced at our German primary school in Australia.
There are also some camps that are bilingual – with both English and German language lessons (you pick one, you don’t do both) and the camps are run in both languages. While this sounded great on the surface as it would hopefully attract local German kids as well, I was still concerned my kids would speak English all the time outside of class.
This had me considering a local German summer camp in Germany. Given all information is only in German on this option online, I assumed it was for local kids and German would be the prime language at the camp.
My kids don’t have to sit German exams, and I’d much rather they could communicate orally in the language well and have conversations with German kids than work on their reading and writing. This lead to my decision to try a local German camp.
It was a bit scary as I didn’t know what the kids could expect exactly. There are many options so they helped pick one and they were a bit scared, but also happy to go.
Language Summer Camp In Germany – What To Expect?
While I can’t talk from personal experience about language camps, I can give you an idea of what to expect.
They run for a minimum of one week and there are options from 8 years old, although the majority require the kids to be 10 years old. They attract kids from all over.
They usually include around four classes of 45 minutes a day although this can obviously vary.
They also have many activities that will be German and can include outdoor activities, sports, art and crafts, sight-seeing, etc.
Accommodation can vary significantly depending on the camp. Some are in country locations with dorm-style accommodation. Others can be in cities with homestay options (a great way to further increase your German) or in international student accommodation. The latter two are more for older kids with younger kids more likely to be in dorms with bunk beds.
Meals and activities are usually all included although there may be some activities that come at an extra cost.
Bilingual camps are similar but I think all run in country locations and focused on the outdoors. Activities can be run in German and English and you pick which language your kid will have instruction in.
Local Summer Camps In Germany
The local summer camps sound great! They have tons of outdoor activities, they visit their local town and they often have a day at a theme park included. They can also have an extra activity you can pay a little extra to take lessons in.
The camps are run in German with the majority of kids attending being local. Kids can attend from 6 years old which blew my mind a little as I have a 6 year old as well, but can’t imagine him being able to do this. The vast majority are a week long and it’s possible to combine to make it two weeks long.
They do often book out and it’s best to book awhile in advance. I recommend at least four months out.
The prices are very reasonable. Most were around 350 Euros for a week which is what I would pay just for day holiday care in Australia without all the cool activities, meals, etc.
The easiest way to explain how they work is to talk about the one that our kids attended. They all sounded somewhat similar, so I think there’s a great chance your kids would have a similar experience. We couldn’t find any reviews of these camps before booking so hopefully this helps you work out if it’s right for your family.
Holiday Camp Friedrichsee – LE Tours Review
This wasn’t actually the first camp we picked, but that camp shut down about five months before the camp started so we switched to this. We are glad we did.
This camp is located in the Dübener Heide at Camp KIEZ Friedrichsee. It’s about two hours southwest of Berlin or an hour north of Leipzig (which is where we travelled from). It has a lake on-site.
This camp has the following fun activities and facilities:
- Stand up paddle boarding
- Capture the flag
- Football tournament
- Water fights
- Table tennis
- Cable car rides
- Neptune Festival
- Game show
- Day trip to Belantis Amusement Park
There were also two optional programs in horseback riding and fishing. My daughter did the horseback riding which is 3 x 2 hour sessions and my son did the fishing which included 3 x 2 hour fishing sessions. These cost an extra 55 Euros for the horse riding and 10 Euros for fishing.
The accommodation was in bungalows and they separate by age and gender. They each had a bathroom and supervisors next door. It was an extra 5 Euros to hire linen (or you can take your own).
All meals are included. These were advertised as being buffet-style, but this turned out to be quite limited. At dinner and breakfast, you could choose between breads, cheeses and sliced meats. Breakfast also had yoghurt and cereal. Lunch was a set hot meal with custard.
Iced tea, tea and water were also included as well as coffee and hot chocolate at breakfast. There is a small kiosk to buy snacks and souvenirs but this was only opened ten minutes a day, and it was easy to miss the ten minutes.
A t shirt and a commemorative photo pack were included in the price which means you get a login afterwards to see the photos online.
So how did it go? What was it like? Did they have a great time? Were the extra programs worth it?
My two kids had quite different experiences.
Unfortunately, my 10 year old started stressing out about the camp a couple of days beforehand to the point where he didn’t even seem to try to enjoy it or try to communicate in German.
This ensured he was quite homesick. By the third night of him ringing begging to pick him up, we did.
I don’t think this is reflective of the quality of the camp at all. The camp carers seemed to do what they could to help him and they seemed on top of trying to make things as easy as possible for him, but it just didn’t work out.
So everything else I write about this camp is based on the experience of my 12 year old daughter.
The notes for the camp said not to let the kids take phones so we didn’t. But it turned out most other kids did. So your child can definitely take their phone.
The kids were allowed to use the camp leader’s phone to ring us and we could ring them.
However, there is one big caveat here. The reception was bad at the camp and about 50% of the time we rung, it didn’t work. It also cut out a lot when we were talking to the carers and kids. This was quite frustrating when things weren’t going right, and I think they really needed to have a phone that would always work, like a landline.
Our assumptions before about this being a great way to immerse the kids in German were spot on. This aspect went even better than I dared dream for my daughter.
There was another girl around her age who also spoke English as she had English parents (but had grown up in Germany) but all the other kids did not. This meant it was quite an immersive experience. Most the carers spoke English and would help the kids if they needed it.
But my daughter fully embraced the German experience, and it amazed her how much better her German became over the week.
As an example, the first and last nights they watched a German movie. She didn’t understand much the first night, but she understood it all by the end. She fully communicated with her new friends in German.
I also noticed the difference for the rest of our trip in Germany. She took over all encounters in German and always sounded confident, no umming or ahhing and could seemingly translate everything. She also made new German friends quickly and easily. It’s AMAZING. Just amazing. I’m so proud of her.
She also is finally proud of herself and excited that she speaks a second language and keen to keep it up instead of treating it like a hassle.
Not everything stated online on the camp description was available. My daughter had especially looked forward to visiting the nearby town, but was told they don’t do that at this camp.
But overall, things were as expected and she very much enjoyed her time.
She loved the horse riding program which was only her and a few other kids. My son also enjoyed the fishing program.
The Other Kids
There was about 60 kids at their camp and, as far as our kids could tell, they were all from the surrounding area in Germany.
The camp was for 6 – 16 year olds. There was only one 6 year old, but a mix of other ages with most being around 9-12 years old.
My daughter made some close friends and was sad for a few days after camp as she missed them.
A bonus for her German that I hadn’t though about before we came was that she also now has a group of German friends that she regularly communicates with on whatsapp in German.
Would We Do It Again?
100% yes for my daughter. She is already asking to go again next year with her new friends.
For my son, no. It was too stressful, and I can’t imagine him wanting to.
It did surprise me how he went as he is usually Mr Popular, but his German is not as strong as my daughters (he spent half as long in German primary school) and that seemed to make him lose all his confidence.
Our One Problem
We did have one big problem during this camp. I left it until last because I think we were very unlucky with how this turned out and it’s not really about the German camp experience.
It’s a long story, so I’m going to cut it short without all the details as they don’t really matter for the purpose of explaining a possible problem as a foreigner attending camp in Germany.
On the second last night of the camp, my daughter felt faint. The carers tried to help her and ended up calling an ambulance which took her to an hospital about 30 minutes way. She was admitted to the hospital, and we were notified.
She was quickly fine and the hospital said it was just dehydration. She wanted to go back to camp and so we arranged for camp to pick her up and didn’t travel back ourselves.
Next thing we knew, the hospital had changed their mind and run up thousands of euros of tests. They stopped letting her talk to us at that point and, in fact, we only found out about this change because the camp leader told us – not the hospital.
We managed to get her out of hospital and back to camp as it all felt quite over the top and unnecessary.
We now have a big bill that travel insurance may not cover since they linked it to a past event that my daughter mentioned which would have had zero to do with what happened and didn’t ask us about it.
As part of the camp registration process, we had to fill in forms giving permission to the camp to make medical decisions in case of an emergency. All we can think of is that this is why we seemed to have no control and weren’t even properly informed as to what was happening to her in hospital by the hospital.
It’s tricky filling in forms in another language for another culture. When we try out summer camps in Germany again, I’m definitely going to be finding out if there is a way to not give this type of permission again and to understand the consequences of that.
Booking The Camp
We booked the camp via Le Tour which you can find here. I was able to communicate with them in English via email which helped make the experience easier.
It was easy to book, but I did have to transfer the money into a German bank account. I used Wise to do this.
All in all, we had a mostly positive experience with camps in Germany. My daughter had a fabulous time, and there’s been nothing better for her German knowledge.
As long as you don’t think your kid will get crippling homesickness, I highly recommend it. Just be careful what medical permissions you give away and, even if they say they are releasing your child from hospital back to camp so you don’t need to come, I’d get straight to that hospital so you know exactly what is going on.
I also wouldn’t recommend the local option, like we did, unless your kids have a reasonable knowledge of German. If the German has been hibernating, like with my daughter, it also is a great option.
No matter which type of camp you pick, I’m sure your kids can have a great time.
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