Why do we call it Boot Camp…
There is a growing trend in China for parents of teenagers to send their children to what we describe as “Boot Camp”. “Boot Camp” is not so much a place where they are physically trained such as you might think, but one where they are academically pushed in a very disciplined manner. Most of the students are 13-18 years old coming from well to do families. However they aren’t the children their parents want them to be so are sent to “Boot Camp”. They might be there for 6 months but it’s quite common children will be there for over a year and in some extreme cases a number of years.
Around China there are various Boot Camps run by different people. There have been sad stories reported on various news agencies about the treatment some boot camps have inflicted. They are not all the same, some are worse than others
There are some sad stories even in the Boot Camp where we’ve been serving. One young 17 year old girl was telling us her story, how she had been in the camp for six months. In all that time she had not seen her parents and yet they only lived a couple of hours away. At that time she began to shed tears, and so did our team member.
For some time we were leading weekly classes in Boot Camp however due to circumstances beyond our control this has changed for a while. However our co-worker who was leading the international classes says; “My role as I saw it is to give these kids a break from their daily routine of hours upon hours of study. Through English teaching, I try to give the kids a fun experience to look forward to each week and at the same time improve their English level which will benefit them in the future. Most of these kids have never met a foreigner before, so I’m also able to be a bridge between them and the West, answering questions they have and bringing visitors from around the world.
My goal is that through interacting with these kids on a consistent basis their English level will improve but more importantly we’ll help them realise that each of them has potential and the possibility of a good future.”
How can people help us serve in Boot Camp? It’s not a situation where we can sponsor (or should sponsor) individual children. However like all our programs we need to provide resources to our program leaders to enable and equip them to reach out to these children. To build relationship, to teach English and as our co-worker said to help them realise and see their own potential.
Our short term teams visit Boot Camp and have great times of games, inspirational talks and small group sharing.