Highlights from Life Skills Camp 2016
The teens at our Life Skills Camp have had a whirlwind of a week so far! They’ve taken field trips to some of China’s most iconic sights, worked on team building, practiced voicing their opinions, and been presented with honest talk about money management, sex education, and internet safety. Here are a few highlights from the first half of camp.
Monday’s field trip was a visit to the Great Wall, which is perhaps one of the most significant symbols of China and very meaningful to the Chinese people. Most of these orphaned teens would never had have the opportunity to visit, and they were understandably thrilled.
One of the campers is Yan Lei, a teen from the Lanzhou orphanage who has cerebral palsy. Climbing the wall was a bit difficult for him and it was slow going, but the teens in Yan Lei’s group were very patient and helped him along the way.
Another teen who had difficulty climbing the big steps was Xing due to his shorter stature. However, his new friends were there to help him, and Xing graciously accepted help with his amazing smile and good humor!
Almost everyone came down from the wall on the toboggans with big smiles on their faces They enjoyed it so much…and some even wanted to do it all again!
Afternoons are dedicated to class time.
Campers were extremely interested in the session on sex education, and the campers took it quite seriously and appreciated the honest information that they were given. They get very little information on sex education in their orphanages, so this lesson was truly needed.
Another of the lessons was called, “Be yourself” based on a cartoon named Green Nose. Discussion and debate followed the lesson during which the teens were divided into two groups. Each group sent four debaters and four teens as the “think-tanks” to help the debaters. The two topics up for debate were cheating on exams and falling in love at an early age.
The real purpose of this session was not about these two topics but how to firmly hold and present one’s opinion and not be persuaded by others. Our facilitators remarked on how smart these kids are and how even the younger campers like Cheng were able to articulate their opinions and debate with the older campers!
Team building exercises are another key part of class time. Team building helps strengthen trust as well as communication and problem-solving skills and can lead to higher self-esteem. The teens really seemed to enjoy these exercises, and there were smiles all around!
Tuesday morning, the teens visited Beijing’s Summer Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest and most famous gardens and parks in China.
The weather has been sunny but quite hot, so the teens were happy to have an early start to the day.
The mentors noticed that the teens are much looser and sillier today, which means that they are definitely gaining confidence and getting more comfortable being themselves with the other campers!
The mentors are a key part of our Life Skills Camp and accompany the campers throughout the week, providing support and encouragement. Several of this year’s mentors attended our Life Skills Camp last year and are so happy to be able to build relationships with these orphaned teens who do not have parents or other family in their lives. Other mentors are now successful young adults who were part of LWB’s programs themselves growing up. We hope that their experiences of successfully transitioning to life outside the orphanage will help the campers to see firsthand that they can accomplish it as well.
Teens growing up in orphanages often are not given many choices in life. They often have the impression that their opinions are unimportant. We hope that the class sessions, team building activities, and field trips to visit significant Chinese cultural sights contributed to a greater sense of self-esteem and confidence.