Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Remember that time We Rocked the Boat?

Are you getting that s i n k i n g  feeling of sadness when you see all the fun going on at Sugar Bay's Rock the Boat Week? Fear not, young sailors, we're about to fix your Fear Of Missing Out with a snapshot of fun... we want you to feel like you're right here involved in all the action, so here goes our little trip down memory lane so far this week.

Remember that time...

Iron Brew was waiting aboard the Rocking Bubble Bus?

And then Zibu took time out to look like a merman version of Abraham Lincoln...

Remember when we were assigned to our cabins? Can't believe that was only on Sunday, it feels like we've known each other forever already!

How about that time we invented a new way to ride a BMX, that was epic!

Or when we got our Dracula on, sherbert-straw style? 

It's hard to believe it's only Tuesday and we still have 4 full days to make even more memories!

Don't be sad about missing out on all the fun this week, there are still 3 Holiday Camps left to choose from! We've got How To Train Your Dragon Week starting on Sunday, then Myth Busters Week starting April 19th and then the grand finale, Foam Party Week!
Check out our Rates & Dates for more information and be sure to get in touch before it's too late! Call Roma on 032 485 3778, email holidays@sugarbay.co.za or book online at www.sugarbay.co.za

Friday, 27 March 2015

Busting Myths (and Making Parents Happy)

We're getting ready to host a Myth Busters Week here at Sugar Bay, where campers from all over the country will get together to bust some of the long-running myths and mysteries about their favourite place on the North Coast, Sugar Bay Holiday Camp.

While planning which magical myths we'd take on in the name of science, we came across some widely-spread myths about summer camps and thought "Hey! Ain't nobody got time for that! Parents need to know the truth!" Which is why we're here to bust 4 of the many myths about summer camps. Sure we may not be well-moustached and wear lab coats like our geeky Mythbusting friends on the Discovery Channel, but we do have scientific studies to back us, years of experience and photographic evidence to boot. We'd like to show you the value of summer camp and why you should let us explode your camper's mind (with fun!)

Myth #1: My Child Won't Be Safe If I'm Not There

Thousands of children pass through our gates each year and return safely to their parents a week (or multiple weeks) later completely unharmed. We can't promise that they will return home the same person on the inside though: the 'magic of camp' has the ability to change kids profoundly and sends them home with wonderful memories of wholesome fun, caring counselors and challenges conquered.

In terms of safety, just think of us as a fun version of Alcatraz: with full perimeter electric fences, 25 CCTV cameras, our own night watchman and 24 hour armed response services on call, no one gets in or out without an appointment or someone knowing about it. Your child will be safe, fret not dear parents. In fact, that's the only thing that takes precedence over learning and fun: safety. We think it's safe to say: Myth Busted.

Myth #2: Your Fees Are Too Expensive and Don't Offer Value for Money

We're not mathematicians but we're pretty sure you wouldn't be able to get this kind of value at any other resort! With your calculator at the ready, consider this: Sugar Bay offers
  • fully-furnished, luxury accommodation for a full week
  • 3 meals and 2 snacks per day
  • over 100 free choice activities supervised by trained counselors
  • state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and
  • a supervision ratio of 1 counselor to every 3 campers.
And just like a luxury hotel, we even offer evening entertainment with our epic evening programs such as Skits & Stunts, Party Night & Carnival. Did we mention that we're all-inclusive? No outrageous fees for unique activities such as paintball, surf lessons or scuba experiences. Case close. Myth Busted.

Myth #3: Your Counselors Are Just Kids - They Can't Be Trusted to Look After My Child

Our counselors may be young and have crazy nicknames, but don't let that fool you. Their first priority is the care, supervision and happiness of every child and they form an integral part of the Sugar Bay experience. Many of them have multiple summers' worth of experience working at American summer camps or in children's outdoor education facilities abroad. Our counselors are fully trained in child psychology, emergency first response and the theory and practice of teaching. They also gain practical experience in how to use all our equipment with the highest safety standards in mind. After training, new staff spend at least one week on a closely-supervised 'shadow week' and will only progress to counselor status based on their performance. Counselors also undergo constant monitoring from supervisory staff, with weekly evaluations. Those that don't perform, don't stay. Simple! Myth Busted.  

Myth #4: My Youngest Child Won't Cope Without Their Older Sibling

This is one of the oldest in the book. We understand that you brought your kids up brilliantly and they're not just siblings but the best of friends that never argue or fight or pull each others' hair.

But camp is all about growing your child's independence, encouraging their individuality and supporting their self-esteem in a new environment. Not only that, but your teen doesn't want to be seen with their younger sibling, let alone share a cabin with them. I mean, really Mom. As sweet as little Suzy is, having a stage 5 sibling clinger is hardly up there in the standard teenager's definition of 'cool'.  Siblings will have plenty opportunities to see each other during the regular camp day though: there's beach day, meal times, party night, the all-camp game and final campfire. And at any time if little Suzy is desperate to see her older sibling, our caring counselors will be sure to arrange it for them. Siblings Sorted. Myth Busted.

Whew, that was a lot of myth busting action! Now that all that's out of the way, check out our rates & dates. Still have questions? Contact us! Explosive news! All our April Holiday Camps are on special, saving you a whopping R1900 off the regular price! If you'd like to find out more, here's a sneak peek into what the camp experience at Sugar Bay is like. For more information or to secure your spot, call us on (032) 485 3778, email holidays@sugarbay.co.za or simply book online.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Sugar Bay Unplugged: The Importance of Being a Technology-Free Camp

We live in a pretty interesting world: sometimes it seems that everything revolves around sharing our every move on social media - insane amounts of selfies, tweets, I-just-went-to-the-gym updates, look-what-I'm-about-to-eat Instagram shots or endless hours spent on Pinterest pinning cute DIY projects that we'll never have time to do because we're too busy Pinteresting... I could go on and on.

And it's all very rich coming from me, since the words 'Social Media' form part of my job description here at Sugar Bay. I'm not saying that it's all bad, but when I read that kids can spend up to 7.5 hours A DAY behind a screen I think, when do they have a chance to just be kids?

The answer (of course) is AT CAMP. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the answer to many of our youth's problems can be solved with camp, but I may be slightly biased :)

There are growing concerns related to technology usage, and it's not just affecting kids. They're learning from our bad habits and now might be the time to take notice of how these digital addictions may be influencing us all.

Trust Issues

Did you know that just having a cell phone nearby when having a conversation - even if you don't pick it up to check your notifications - has a negative effect on the quality of that relationship? How many of us think nothing of leaving our phones on the table at a restaurant? Researchers from the University of Essex used this exact scenario to find that people who engaged in personal discussions when a cell phone was nearby — even if neither was actually using it — reported lower relationship quality and less trust for the person they were speaking to. They also felt their partner was less empathetic to their concerns, which is quite worrying when aiming to teach our kids how to foster meaningful relationships. Read the details of this study here.

Reduced Sleep Quality

Isn't it strange to think that for many of us, the glowing screen of our cell phone is the first and last thing we see on either side of a night's sleep? Sure we use them for alarms and such, but these bedtime technology sessions do actually interfere with our sleep, and can lead to more serious issues such as sleep disorders and symptoms of stress and depression as is shown in this article based on researcher Sara Thomée's findings. 

"It's called the Web, because once you're In, you're Stuck."

Did you know that public commitments to unplugging have become a thing now? There's even a dedicated National Day of Unplugging, where from sunset to sunset, people unplug from technology for a variety of reasons. Ironically, the Internet is filled with information on digital detoxes and we think they may be on to something.

Which is one of the many reasons we consider Sugar Bay to be a technology-free environment. Our campers use their phones for the last time when they arrive (to let anxious parents know that they have arrived safely) and then it's time to unplug: time for real face-to-face time, real birds that tweet and time to capture moments with only our memories rather than our phones. Even our counselors aren't allowed their phones in public view so the campers don't feel like they're missing out.

Unplugged Moments

Unplugging is not only important for kids. As a parent, achieving these moments in a technology-dependent world might seem like a lot of effort, but once you read through this feel-good, easy-to-do list from the blog at AbundantMama.com we think you'll find it's easier than you think.

Easier still is helping your child to unplug in the school holidays - send them to camp! This ensures at least one week of technology-free bliss and, as many of our returnee campers tell us, they won't even miss it!

There's no Wi-Fi at camp, but we can promise you won't find a better connection. 

Fear not parents - we're not cutting you off! We understand that sending your child to camp can cause feelings of anxiety and stress. Even Hillary Clinton mentioned her reluctance to send her daughter Chelsea to sleepaway camp in a recent speech to over 3000 camp professionals in America. That's why Sugar Bay is committed to updating you as much as possible throughout your camper's week. We update our Facebook page daily with photos, send hand-written emails from your camper (if you're lucky enough that they spend the time to write!) and even send a personalised mid-week update. You're also welcome to call our camp administrator Roma or programmer Paris at any time to hear how the week is going.

If Sugar Bay sounds like the right fit for your child (and we're sure it is!), then check out our rates & dates. And here's some splendid news for you - our April Holiday Camps are on special, saving you a whopping R1900 off the regular price!

If you'd like to find out more, here's a sneak peek into what the camp experience at Sugar Bay is like. For more information or to secure your spot, call us on (032) 485 3778, email holidays@sugarbay.co.za or simply book online

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

7 Social Skills Kids Learn at Sugar Bay

I'm sure you've heard it said many a time on our website and Facebook page: Come to Sugar Bay and try new things. This experience in itself is of course a fantastic one, something that we endlessly promote for the fun value as well as the impact on a child's development. But what EXACTLY does trying new things do for kids, what skills are they learning whilst at camp?

Although there are many, we chose to focus on just 7 of the important social skills that will help children as they grow older. And we don't mean the 'social' skills that involve 'socializing' on your phone, tablet or behind any other kind of screen. We're talking about a different kind of Face Time, the kind where kids are sitting face to face with one another and interacting in the only real-time there is, the here and now.

Supportive Communication -  Positive reinforcement is a wonderful thing - from parents, counselors and friends. Some campers have even said that support that comes from a complete stranger or a new friend means more to them than when it is received from their own parents. Why? Well, for parents it's essentially their job to be supportive. For counselors or peers, no one is forcing them to be nice, which is why it means so much. Camp is an incredibly supportive environment and the many examples of supportive communication tend to catch on like wild fire amongst the campers with endless shouts of "you can do it!", "you've got this" or "keep going, keep going!". 

Conflict Resolution -  Sometimes campers don't get along. There are disagreements in sports games, arguments over who will shower first or who made it to the top of the climbing tower the fastest. As I'm sure you can imagine, any number of conflicts can occur when a group of kids are gathered together in one space. With the help of counselors, campers learn effective methods of resolving conflict and learn to get along better with others.

Table Manners - 10 hungry campers at a table has the potential to be a nightmare waiting to happen! At camp, simple table manners are encouraged, 'please' and 'thank you' are an essential part of receiving your meal and counselors assist with setting a good example and discouraging rude behavior. That's not to say that we're always sitting quietly in our seats without a peep - friendly cabin rivalry is a big deal at Sugar Bay and there are too many fun meal time songs and shout outs to spend a meal in absolute silence!   

Learning from Others - From the moment campers arrive at Sugar Bay, they need to practice their listening skills and exercise their ability to learn from others. One of the first activities during holiday camps are the cabin get-to-know-you games where campers learn new and interesting things about their cabin-mates. With counselors setting the example of how to show interest in others, our campers naturally follow suit. Campers also have the chance to learn and share things about themselves and learn about nature and their new surroundings from Sugar Bay counselors.

Teamwork - With over 100 free-choice activities on offer, there are many times when campers will join a team without knowing anyone else on that team, such as in a Paintball challenge, soccer match or a game of beach volleyball. But we can guarantee that once that match whistle blows, the strangers on that team are instant comrades aiming for a common goal, and hey presto - you've got teamwork! Our counselors are the best example we have of a great team, and we're sure our campers take note of the way team members encourage, support and compliment each other too.

Trust - From trusting that a counselor won't drop you during King Swing to trusting that your new camp friend will dress up just as crazy as you will on Party Night, camp friendships are built on trust. In today's cynical and deceiving world, we see the ability to trust steadily decreasing and don't like this one bit, which is why we try to establish a trusting, reliable, supportive environment for campers to be themselves here at Sugar Bay.

Living with others - Staying in a cabin with new people who are not your family can certainly take some getting used to! There's a whole host of skills that are learned within the cabin, which many consider to be the heart of camp. Campers will learn to be considerate of others and their personal space by keeping their own area neat and tidy, making their beds, picking their belongings up off the floor and many other skills that come into play when sharing a space with others. 

We're grateful for Sunshine-Parenting's article on the topic of social skills learned at summer camp, which also included skills such as empathy/emotional intelligence, taking turns to talk and showing interest in others, all of which are also very important. Stay tuned for our next blog post on the importance of unplugging from technology during camp.

If Sugar Bay sounds like the right fit for your child (and we're sure it is!), then check out our rates & dates. And here's some splendid news for you - our April Holiday Camps are on special, saving you a whopping R1900 off the regular price! If you'd like to find out more, here's a sneak peek into what the camp experience at Sugar Bay is like. For more information or to secure your spot, call us on (032) 485 3778, email holidays@sugarbay.co.za or simply book online

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

6 Things you didn't know about Tick Tack (and Tic Tacs)

The Huffington Post recently did an article on Things You Didn't Know About Tic Tacs and, while that's all very interesting, we know that we've got an even more interesting Tick Tack right here at Sugar Bay. So we created a quick summary to share this Tick's terrific tale of visits to faraway lands, tan lines and more. Read on to learn more about your favourite Ropes Pro-Counselor:

Did you know?

1. Tic Tacs are produced by Ferrero, the same company that makes Nutella, Kinder Chocolate, and Rocher chocolates, those nutty little balls of heaven which just so happen to be our Tick's favourite chocolate. Ferrero is an Italian company and mamma mia what do you know, Italy is on Tick's bucket list of places to visit. 
2. Tic Tacs were originally (and oh so creatively) called"Refreshing Mints". As you may have guessed, there's a story behind Tick's name and it too has changed somewhat over the years. Starting out his first week during an Insect-inspired holiday camp week, this newbie was first dubbed 'Tick'. Tick then became Tick Tick Boom for reasons that are just too silly to explain. Eventually (and thankfully) deciding that this was just a bit long-winded for a name, he then became Tick Tock and eventually settled on Tick Tack, at least for now. 

3. The grape flavoured Tic Tac  was removed from production because the red dye that was used in it, amaranth, was named a suspected carcinogen. Uncool! Our Tick Tack on the other hand, is very cool and has had the awesome experience of using his feet to squash grapes into wine in the Western Cape. Not sure that we would promote drinking that wine though, have a look at those feet!

4. Only white Tic Tacs are sold in other countries. The box may be tinted a different colour depending on the flavour, but the sweet inside is always white. Speaking of white, check out our Tick's friendship bracelet tan. Some of those have been on his wrist for over 3 years, no wonder that tan is cemented in place!

5. The Tic Tac company used to advertise that their mints were only 1.5 calories, but today they contain 1.9 calories. When Tick was 19 he was studying Electrical Engineering at Coastal College in Swinton, so there's a nifty bit of info for you.

6. Some Tic Tacs flavours such as peach, passion fruit and cardamom are only available in India. What a coinky dink, since our Tick has always dreamed of visiting India.

Tick Tack has been working at Sugar Bay off and on since 2009. He started as a counselor and then became Campout Director as well as our Ropes Pro Counselor. Tick has traveled the world working at summer camps in the United States and Russia and here's one last little secret about him: he doesn't even like Tic Tacs that much! Go figure.

If you'd like to meet Tick and some of our other fun-loving staff members, be sure to book online for our April Holiday Camps. To check out the themes for each exciting week, see our rates & dates page. Did you know that you can save R1900 off the regular price? If you'd like to find out more, here's a sneak peek into what the camp experience at Sugar Bay is like.

For more information or to book, call us on (032) 485 3778 or email holidays@sugarbay.co.za.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Rooiboss: the Surf won't be the same without you Dude!

Today marks a very sad day at Sugar Bay. Not only are we saying goodbye to 2 wonderful schools - Durban North Primary and Durban Girls' College - but we're also bidding farewell to our red-headed golden boy, Mr Rooiboss.

Rooiboss has been an important part of the SB team for the last 5 years. He started off as a counselor, then became a Squad Leader and swiftly moved on to becoming one of the prestigious A+ counselors. Rooiboss has also helped out as a Body Boarding Pro Counselor, which made sense seeing as he's been to the SA Champs 3 times. Teachers will know our beloved Rooiboss as their Teacher Liaison and Activity Assessor, making sure that the teachers have an incredible time when their schools come to visit and being the guy to ensure all activities are run safely. 

Rooiboss leaves us for the sunny shores of Perth, Australia, to be reunited with his fiancee and try his luck at the waves down under. Although he knows he'll miss the Sugar Bay kids, the staff, the noise and the magical feeling of camp, he's off to spread his ginger wings into those sunny Australian skies (filled with flies).

7 silly facts about this Ginger Ninja:

  • Rooiboss hails from the thriving metropolis that is Empangeni
  • His favourite camp meal is Chicken Stir Fry, which Chef was kind enough to make him last night as his Last Supper
  • His favourite activity is Body Boarding (like, no duh)
  • His favourite camp tradition is final campfire, for obvious reasons
  • His best camp memory was during an early morning Rock Explore class when they found an octopus and got to see him changing colours up close and personal
  • Rooi has a literal spring in his step: when he walks, there's an unexplained clicking sound in his right heel
  •  He has a pretty gross talent: he can put something in his nose and bring it out his mouth. Ew! Don't try that at home!
One last one, just before he goes: Rooiboss is a natural red head and classifies himself as King of All Gingers. Why you ask? He's got a tan and no freckles, which is apparently pretty rare for a redhead. All hail King Rooi! 

It sure has been swell having you here Rooi, and we're stoked that you're off on a new new adventure out there in the big old blue. We'll be sure to wave you off with our best Sugar Bay farewell, and hope you catch the big one! Keep that red mop nice and curly and keep in touch. 

If you would like to meet some of our other fun-loving staff members, be sure to book online for our April Holiday Camps. To check out the themes for each exciting week, see our rates & dates page. And here's some rad news - our April Holiday Camps are on special, saving you a whopping R1900 off the regular price! If you'd like to find out more, here's a sneak peek into what the camp experience at Sugar Bay is like. For more information or to secure your spot, call us on (032) 485 3778 or email holidays@sugarbay.co.za.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Like the Energizer Bunny, We Just Keep Going...

At Sugar Bay we know about energy. Like the beautiful Indian ocean on our doorstep, the energy ebbs and flows in our little piece of paradise: increasing with the arrival of new students and decreasing with sad farewells to new friends. As an office dweller, you can always feel the positive energy on the days when campers are due to arrive. From the moment the school bus drives through those beautifully branded gates, the excitement is almost overwhelming.

You can sense that the kids are eager to get off the bus, it's pretty clear that the teachers can't wait for a well-deserved break and to get those kids off the bus, and our counselors just can't wait to welcome them all!

The energy simply soars, almost as high as the local fish eagle family nesting near the Zinkwazi lagoon (more on them in another post!) Did we mention that we have private access to that lagoon? We get to go fishing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking and more, but I digress... Each and every school gets an unbelievable welcome as soon as the bus doors open. Our Sugar Bay staff introduce themselves one by one in true Sugar Bay Energizer Bunny fashion and BAM, campers have a new set of friends and role models, just like that. 

We don't need Red Bull or Monster Energy drinks, we've got your campers. As soon as they're here it's all systems go: fun fun fun every minute until bed time. And then there's happy dreams and early morning beach activities to start the day right - soaking in all of that feel-good energy from seeing the sun rise over the ocean. Then it's onto another day jam-packed with adventure, sampling some of our 100+ activities. 
This week's lucky visitors are from Durban North Primary School and Durban Girls College. Two schools, one camp, and a hundred stories of "this one time at Sugar Bay" still to come... 

If you would like your school to come to camp at Sugar Bay, visit our website's Schools & Groups section where you'll find all sorts of handy dandy information, like Teachers Need to Know Info, Teacher Reviews, packing lists, lists of our activities and more. Get in touch and we'll tailor-make an experience just for your school. 

You can discuss your school's needs by calling Liezl on 032 485 3778 or emailing tours@sugarbay.co.za

For the holiday experience of a lifetime, check out our rates & dates. And here's some splendid news for you - our April Holiday Camps are on special, saving you a whopping R1900 off the regular price! If you'd like to find out more, here's a sneak peek into what the camp experience at Sugar Bay is like. For more information or to secure your spot, call us on (032) 485 3778, email holidays@sugarbay.co.za or simply book online.