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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 14:07 GMT
Summer camp plan for all children
Child goes climbing at holiday camp
Activities like rock climbing could be on offer at summer camp
Every child could be offered a place at a US-style summer camp under a new government scheme.

The move could fire enthusiasm for school, build children's confidence and encourage them to lead active lives, the Department for Education said.

Three pilot projects which ran this summer were successes, it said, and the scheme could soon go nationwide.

Pupils would be guaranteed at least one week-long residential stay between the ages of 11 and 16.

Schools Minister David Miliband was impressed by the experiences of children who took part in pilot schemes in Birmingham, Cornwall and the Lake District.

The government said the cost of the scheme has not yet been evaulated but newspaper reports suggest it could top 150m a year.

The education department said it would take several years for the scheme to be set up.

[Summer camps] are very good at breaking down barriers between children from different backgrounds
Department for Education

The idea is that children from deprived backgrounds would be offered free places, while middle class children would be expected to contribute something towards the cost.

The Times said the scheme, which could be up and running by 2006, would be funded by national lottery money via the New Opportunities Fund.

It said the scheme would be voluntary, but about 600,000 places would be funded once a national programme was in place.

A department spokesman said: "Three pilots were run last summer and are currently being evaluated.

"Early signs are that they were successful. On the basis of a full evaluation we will be looking to expand this."

Social barriers

Parents in the US traditionally pack off youngsters each summer for character-building activities at camp.

The UK camps would be similar, with a range of activities including music, sports and team-building exercises.

A department spokeswoman told the Times: "There is no doubt that American summer schools are a feature not just of school life, but of the local communities.

"They attract children from all backgrounds and are fantastic at firing enthusiasm for learning.

"They are also very good at breaking down barriers between children from different backgrounds."

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