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Published: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday December 5, 2013 MYT 9:18:43 AM

Boot camp for 'little emperors'

Overprotected Chinese children toughen up during their summer holidays.

THE youth military summer camp in the outskirts of Beijing, China, first opened in 2008, with only a handful of students. Five years later, the camp caters to over 2,000 children a year over a two-month period.

The camp is run mainly by former military, police and fire fighters, looking after children ranging from six to 17 years old, with 70% being boys and 30% girls. The programmes last between seven and 28 days and enrolment costs are from 2,580 to 9,280 yuan (RM1,368 to RM4,920).

I'm so tyre-d: Part of the obstacle course. - EPA
I’m so tyre-d: Part of the obstacle course at a youth summer camp in China run mainly by former military, police and fire fighters. — EPA

The camp’s average child is what is known as “the little emperor”, an overprotected kid, product of the one-child policy who most likely does not know how to make his or her own bed. The vast majority of the parents enrolling their children for the one- to four-week programme do so not just as an alternative way for children to spend their summer vacations, but because they hope that a taste of army life and strict discipline will strengthen their character, teach them to do things for themselves, be less dependent on their parents or grandparents, and maybe even make them braver.

An average day at the camp starts before 7am, when the children must all brush their teeth, make their beds, air out their tents by opening up the windows and get themselves into their uniforms ready for the day’s tasks. Depending on the programme they are on, some will learn how to do their laundry, sit still at attention, march, go on treks, do the obstacle course, learn self-defence and survival skills, or be in the kitchen learning how to make dumplings.

Enrolees at the summer camp learn how to wear camouflage.
Enrollees at the summer camp learn how to wear camouflage.

Those students enrolled in the longer programmes will at some point learn how to handle weapons, wear camouflage paint on their faces, and even go to the firing range to shoot air rifles.

About a third of the students return to the camp the following year.

The summer boot camp has activities like self-defence.
The summer boot camp has activities like self-defence.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, China boot camp, children, summer camp

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