An up and down week


. . . but only in the physical sense. A trampolining camp at University College Dublin has been delighting some new fans of the sport, writes Sylvia Thompson

AS YOU ENTER the sports centre at University College Dublin’s Belfield campus you have a particularly good view of the participants at the trampoline summer camp in the hall below. Looking through the glass windows, you can almost feel the excitement of children of all ages bouncing, turning and twisting in the air on the eight Olympic-size trampolines.

Opting for a trampoline summer camp is certainly nailing your colours to the mast. If you sign up for these week-long camps you will be spending a lot of your time on, well, a trampoline. There are a few ball games and stretching exercises on the ground, but it’s really all about that up-the-air feeling.

When we visited, the participants were just finishing their second of three sessions on the trampoline. For every coach there are seven or eight children, aged from six to 18. “The big thing is putting them in the right peer group, so that they can make friends with others of the same ability,” says Darron Costello, who set up the SuperSonic trampoline summer camp nine years ago.

The younger groups do a lot of bouncing, tucking in of knees and some somersaults. There are plenty of padded mats around the trampolines, and the coaches are either up with the children or standing next to the trampolines.

“The trampolines are really bouncy. It’s so fun, and you feel tired but relaxed afterwards,” says 12-year-old Nicola. “It’s a great atmosphere, and the trampolines are so different from garden trampolines. They are much bouncier,” says Aisling, who is also 12. “I love it,” says 14-year-old James. “You learn to stay in the centre of the trampoline and not try anything you don’t think you’d be able for. It’s about keeping a cool head so you can build up your skills.”

The older participants already have the air of gymnasts about them, and some can do very impressive straight body turns, double somersaults and exceptionally high bounces. “I do basketball and hockey in school, but this is my eighth year at the trampoline summer camp. It’s a lot more physical than you might think, and there’s a lot of individual satisfaction. I’d love to learn to become a coach,” says 17-year-old Cormac. Laura, who is also 17, has been coming to the summer camp for four years. “I do gymnastics during the year, but trampolining is really a unique sport. Compared with gymnastics, you have more time in the air on a trampoline, and you’re not landing on something stable – which can be a bit scary.”

The parents are arriving to pick up the children just as we speak to the coaches. One woman whose son has an autistic-spectrum disorder is keen to emphasise how good it has been for him. “The camp stretches him to his limits, yet the coaches really look after him. He has overcome his fear of heights at this camp, and learning to balance in itself has been good for him. I can only book him into camps that are well run, with professionally trained coaches, like this one.”

And for those who get hooked on the sport, there’s always the option of joining SuperSonic’s after-school trampoline club at Loughlinstown leisure centre, in south Dublin – where even the mums and dads can sign up for lessons.

SuperSonic’s camps continue until July 30th. Weekly camps run Monday-Friday, 10am-1pm. €110. 086-8927386,