Life Skills Camp – Day Five
Day five of our Life Skills Camp was a very special one for the campers as they boarded an early morning bus heading to Beidaihe, a popular beach destination in China. It was the first time the teens had ever been to the sea shore, and their excitement was overflowing.
First up, however, we had more Life Skills for them to learn, this time involving personal safety. We were blessed to have Kung fu Master Ding join the camp to teach everyone some essential self defense moves. As you can see from the photos, the kids had a wonderful time learning about protecting themselves and practicing their newly learned skills on each other!
After Master Ding’s class, it was time to head to the beach, and since none of the kids knew how to swim, we had many long discussions before the camp began about how to make sure everyone stayed safe in the water. Thankfully the shoreline was quite shallow, and so the teens could go pretty far out and still only be to their knees.
Remember those shy and nervous campers who first arrived on Sunday?
Well I have to admit that I had more than a few tears today seeing the images from their day at the ocean. These kids have bonded and made real friendships, and I feel they are believing our message about just how special they are. I hope as you look at the photos below, you too will see the changes in confidence and self-esteem that have occurred this week.
Through your support, they have received lots of encouragement and a time of great joy.
I looked at each and every photo today giving thanks to everyone who made the camp possible. I especially loved the photo of Max below, as I have known this young man for many, many years. Max was born with club feet and grew up in an orphanage in Anhui. He was always one of the kids who hung towards the back when I visited, with a shy smile and wonderfully kind heart. He sadly aged out of the adoption process before he could find a family. Max tried a few different vocational trades once he became a teen, but none were the right fit for him. Just this past spring he asked if he could take cooking lessons to learn to be a chef, and I am so happy to tell you that he absolutely loves it (and his teachers say he is quite talented). I was just in Anhui a few weeks ago, and Max actually prepared my lunch as he now helps out at his orphanage making meals for the younger kids. I looked at the photo below and thought it was a perfect image of the pride and self confidence we want every one of the young people at camp to feel inside themselves. Max is an amazing young man, and I am so thankful he is realizing that about himself as well.
Tomorrow is their final day in Beijing, with a special closing ceremony where each camper will receive letters of affirmation from their sponsors and mentors. I know for many of the attendees it will be very hard to say goodbye to their new friends and small groups. Please be thinking of all of the young people who have shared this week with us at our first ever Life Skills Camp. We’ll share some final photos and thoughts tomorrow.
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer
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