Life Skills Camp: Sponsors Needed!
For over a decade, LWB has been working with older teens in orphanages, helping with high school and college tuition, vocational training, and more. I have been very blessed to have become good friends with many of the now young adults who were in our programs. My heart is especially burdened for them as many have shared with me the great loss they carry from never having a family of their very own.
I often think of my own young adult kids and how very much they needed my help as they left home to spread their wings. I admit that even at age 50, I still call my mom and dad sometimes to ask their advice, so it’s hard to imagine growing up in institutional care and not having that one key person who will guide and mentor you to adulthood.
There is actually a lot of misinformation found online about what happens when orphaned teens “age out” of the social welfare system in China. I regularly see comments online stating that when a child turns 14 years old, they are suddenly turned out on the street to fend for themselves. I can honestly say I have never seen that happen. In fact, the majority of kids remain in orphanage care often well into their late teens and early 20s. The age of 14 simply means that a child is no longer eligible for legal adoption.
At some point, however, those kids do eventually have to make their own way in the world. And I have seen again and again with the teens we have helped that when you have grown up behind the walls of an institution, transitioning to the outside community can be a very daunting experience indeed. It can be lonely, confusing, and downright frightening to no longer have the safety net of living in government care. Unfortunately, many of them are easily taken advantage of as they seek to find their way.
That is why I am so excited about our upcoming Life Skills Camp which will be held August 2-8th this summer. Sessions will be held on etiquette and social skills, alcohol and drug use, sex education, money management, online safety, self-defense, and more. We have some wonderful experts lined up to teach the classes, along with over a dozen Chinese mentors who will spend each day with the campers.
The theme of the camp is an essential truth: “The world is better with me in it.” All of our activities outside the classroom time will be reinforcing just how special and important each and every person at the camp truly is.
Thanks to a wonderful grant from Child Vision, we have the initial funding in place to make this camp possible, but now each child attending needs sponsors to help with their travel and lodging costs. We will have campers coming from Anhui, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guizhou, Gansu, and Hunan provinces. All of the kids coming will fly one way and then take the train the other, as we feel that navigating airports and train stations are very important life skills for them to learn.
In addition, campers will be given a certain amount of spending money for the week, and they will learn to order for themselves in restaurants and budget accordingly – a seemingly small task perhaps, but if you have never had the opportunity to shop and eat out on your own, these are tasks which need to be learned with the encouragement and guidance of mentors.
On average, each child will need $300 for the week. All of the kids coming to our Life Skills cam can be found on our sponsorship page. We know that means we need to raise a total of $15,000 for the kids to all attend, but we are really hopeful with our awesome community of friends and supporters that every individual teen can be sponsored. This would be a great project for a group of friends to do together. Perhaps six friends could each pitch in $50 to send one teen to camp, or three friends could come together with $100 each.
We have been checking in regularly with the orphanages participating, and I can tell you that the teens’ excitement at having the opportunity to visit Beijing is over the moon. When we first tested the curriculum with a group of teens last fall, we asked them if they would rather attend camp in a mountainous, outdoor location or in a big city, and all of the kids yelled “Beijing!” Obviously being able to see their country’s capitol city and walk on the Great Wall will mean a great deal to each of them.
Over the next month, we will introduce you to some of the kids who will be attending. We encourage you to consider sponsoring a teen for this important event. Each sponsor will get updates during the camp week along with photos, and you can feel confident in the fact that you are giving an older orphaned teen an experience they will treasure.
“The world is better with me in it.” Let’s spread that message to some really wonderful young people. Thank you for joining with us to provide essential life skills training to those who need it most.
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer