Brisbane writer and busy mum of two boys. See my parenting articles at www.brisbaneschild.com.au and www.kidsonthecoast.com.au.
Published June 8th 2012
Update March 15th 2013
Active Tribes has now changed its name to UQ Sport Kids (www.uqsport.com.au/kids) and is accepting full-week bookings only. The booking policy has also changed so that you need to book at least three days in advance. Activities are the same as those run for Active Tribes.
Last school holidays my two active boys went to Active Tribes at the University of Queensland - and had an absolute ball. With heaps of different activities, and access to all of the university's slick sports facilities, Active Tribes is ideal if you're looking for vacation care that's healthy, fun and well-supervised.
Active Tribes is run by UQ Sport, a not-for-profit organisation that offers community sport and recreation programs using the university's facilities. My boys went to the program at the St Lucia campus, but Active Tribes also operates at Gatton and at the Queensland Tennis Centre at Tennyson.
All the different sites offer a great range of activities. At St Lucia, we could choose from the Active Play Program (for 5-10 year-olds), the Active Sports Program (for 9-14 year-olds), athletics programs for juniors and seniors (6-17 years), and an all-ages swimming program (for kids 3 and up).
We opted to enrol our 8-year-old in Active Play and our 10-year old in Active Sports. These programs give the kids the chance to do lots of different activities each day, ranging from basketball to golf, volleyball, baseball, handball, running and swimming. They also include lots of games (e.g. Red Rover and the like).
Active Play focuses more on learning skills and having fun, while Active Sports takes the rules more seriously and assumes older kids can handle winning or losing better than the young ones.
My boys really enjoyed the variety and the physical activity, coming home tired each day (and, as any mother of boys knows, that's a good thing!). I loved that they weren't sitting in front of a computer, and that they were even more active than during the school term.
Active Tribes uses the uni's state-of-the art sports facilities
Supervision was generally good, and the instructors seemed friendly, although my 8-year-old did find one of them a bit too 'tough love' for his liking! He also copped a ball in the face at one point, which I think is probably a common hazard in a program that involves a lot of ball sports. But neither of these things dampened my son's enthusiasm, and he wanted to go back the next day.
Active Tribes caters for working parents, providing care from 8am to 5pm if you need it (the program runs from 9am-4pm, but there's optional free before- and after-care). It's also weather-proof; because the program starts and ends in one of the university's gyms, it can also run in the rain. You can choose from half-day or full-day enrolment, and send your kids for anything from one to five days. You can claim Child Care Benefit for Active Tribes if you're eligible.
Really, the only downside to Active Tribes that we could find was the cost. It's certainly not cheap at $250 a week for the full-day program that we did, and $150 a week for the half-day program (see the Active Tribes website for prices for the other programs).
But it is one of the few holiday activities that both my boys have completely embraced, and it does give children access to some amazing sports facilities that you're unlikely to get anywhere else. With the programs running every school holidays, they're worth considering if you think that your budget will stretch that far.
PS Another good holiday sports program for younger kids is the Starsports Soccer camp, which I've reviewed in another article. And, while you're at UQ, you might also like to take your children to visit the lovely UQ Lakes, with their very cute ducks.
As of this holidays (September 2012), you can no longer claim CCB at Active Tribes because of changes in government rules. Also, they now have all the kids in one program called 'Active Experience' (though they do still divide them by age into under 9s and over 9s). Most importantly, it's still great fun -- and my two boys are there running themselves ragged all over again!