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Study camps keep young minds sharp

By Hu Yuyan | China Daily | Updated: 2022-07-30 11:09
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Surge in popularity for educational events after policy restricts homework

While anything containing the word "study" may appear unappealing to a child, fun and carefully designed study camps and tours are turning out to be an exception this summer.

"Teacher, it's done!"; "I have photographed a swan spreading its wings!", some children reported to their teacher during a bird observation trip in Beijing Zoo, according to a China Women's News report.

The trip was part of a study camp arranged by operator Fengniao, which takes children to observe birds and conduct experiments in places such as Beijing Zoo and Yuanming-yuan Ruins Park.

A parent surnamed Deng, who accompanied her son on one of the bird observation trips, told China Women's News that the teachers guide the children through scientific research, such as telling them how to measure the flight initiation distance of birds.

For children interested in performing arts, China Puppet Art Theatre has launched a stage performance training camp for children. There professionally trained teachers and celebrity coaches teach young students how to perform on stage, China Women's News reported.

Bo Zhiyue is one of the students performing in a play about Song Dynasty (960-1279) poet Su Shi. Bo's father told China Women's News that after attending the camp, his child often recites poems at home and tells him the story of Su Shi, which demonstrates the "positive influence" of traditional Chinese culture.

The themes of study camps this summer include Winter Olympics, the Silk Road, desert hikes, rocket launches, agriculture and military.

"Study tours are very 'in' across the country right now," Li Xingchi, a tour guide with 13 years of experience based in the southern island province of Hainan, told Workers' Daily.

Li guides study tours for primary and secondary school students, and receives dozens of buses carrying the students every weekday.

Online travel agency Ctrip has launched hundreds of parent-child tours and study tours for the summer. The number of independent travel products for children accounts for almost half the amount and the rest are for parents and children.

A key factor underpinning the popularity of study tours is that parents are keen to maximize their children's chances to learn, preferably in ways that would interest the kids.

"As parents, we do not want our children's education to be confined to textbooks. We also want them to see the world," a mother from Beijing's Chaoyang district was quoted as saying by China Women's News.

A mother named Zhang Xiaolei from Beijing's Fengtai district signs her child up for study camps every summer or winter vacation.

"Through teachers' guidance and hands-on activities, the children learn the stories behind places of interest and cultural relics, and acquire knowledge of China's long history and rich culture," Zhang told China Women's News.

The demand is further fueled by China's third-child policy and the "double reduction" policy, which is aimed at easing the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring on primary and middle school students.

A representative of online travel agency Tuniu told Ningbo Evening News that the "double reduction" policy affords children more time for extracurricular activities, which has driven the creation of more tourism products for parents and children.

The third-child policy will lead to the emergence of more tourism products for families with more than one child, which is expected to drive changes in the entire supply chain, according to the representative.

The burgeoning study camp industry is also facing its share of problems, including a low barrier for entry, varying quality and a lack of standards, Shi Jiazhen, who heads the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute, told Guangming Daily.

Yu Huiqing, a study tour instructor with Chinese tourism services company U-tour, told the Beijing-based newspaper that many study tour operators are still in the exploratory phase and are experiencing a shortage of talent.

In addition, some parents are yet to gain a thorough understanding of study tours and are not sure what type of study tours are suitable for their children, Yu added.

Liu Yeqing, a Beijing-based outdoor activity instructor, suggested that parents look at the student-teacher ratio, the tour operator's safety precautions and its communication when choosing study tours for their children, China Women's News reported.

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