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Life Skills Camp – Day Three

The teens had another wonderful day at Life Skills Camp, and we were giving thanks for the beautiful blue skies over Beijing during the morning field trip to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  Getting to visit such important landmarks in their homeland has meant so much to everyone attending.

IMG_0737“We love summer camp!”

IMG_4700Jumping for joy at the Forbidden City

IMG_5957The “Must Do” photo with Chairman Mao

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One of the challenges we knew we were going to face this week was that some of the great kids at camp have mobility issues, and some of the most iconic places in Beijing aren’t easily accessible for those with disabilities.  We had purchased some small travel wheelchairs to use, but knew that ramps wouldn’t always be found.  As you can see below, the teens have all pitched in to help their new friends make it to each and every location. From helping with crutches to carrying wheelchairs, there is a real spirit of teamwork at the camp. These are some truly great young adults!

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Helping 1

Helping 2

Helping

We have also loved seeing the deep friendships growing among those attending the camp.  When everyone arrived on Sunday, you could clearly see how shy and nervous so many of the kids were to even speak to new people, but now smiles and laughter are the norm, across orphanage lines.

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Today the teens had three classroom sessions. The first was on the importance of online safety, from viruses to identity theft to the dangers of stalkers and trolls. The next session was on alcohol and drug use, with information from how it can impact your baby when pregnant to understanding Asian Flush and the long term effects it can have on your body.   

DSCF4237LiYing is one of our great mentors this week

DSCF4246The teens have been engaged in every lesson

The final session was on money management and how to create and stick to a personal budget, led by Mr. Zhou who is the Chief Financial Officer of COFCO in Beijing.  Each small group picked an envelope, and inside they were assigned a job (such as electrician, computer programmer, or postman) and one month’s salary for that job in play money.  Then came the important lesson of dividing up their funds for rent, utilities, taxes, savings, etc.   After they had their budget prepared, they had to pick a “wild card” – those financial surprises which come everyone’s way, such as having your bike stolen or being invited to a wedding where you need to bring a gift. 

DSCF4214Electrician group – 2,000 rmb a month

IMG_4663“Does anyone else feel like this when budgeting?”

IMG_6147Figuring out housing costs

The teens took this lesson very seriously and put a lot of thought into their budgets.  For example, the group who got the job of being a chef discussed that their food budget for the month could be smaller, since they could eat in the restaurant.  Another group said helping others was an essential part of life, and so they budgeted giving 200 rmb a month to charity.  

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I have to admit that following along this week has been quite emotional for me.  I am so thankful that our supporters have made this important camp possible, and I am extremely happy that the teens are having such a great time together and realizing how special each of them are. I am saddened, however, to know that none of them grew up knowing the unconditional love of a forever family, and through my work I of course realize what a hard road ahead they have to succeed in a society where the orphan label carries such a huge stigma. I believe so strongly in the power of hope and caring though, and I know these kids have come into our lives for a reason.

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I want to thank you so sincerely for believing in these wonderful young people and making our first Life Skills Camp possible.  Stay tuned for more updates!

~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer

  • Donate now to help us make this Life Skills Camp a reality for more older orphaned teens next summer!

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