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Chinese Summer camp boom: Business or education?

(People's Daily Online)    13:59, August 28, 2018

Summer camp, now a hit among young children from middle-class families in China, is estimated to turn over 20 to 30 billion yuan annually, with the market expected to swell to 400 billion yuan in the next five to ten years, China Newsweek reported on August 20.

In western countries, summer camps are an excellent way for students to spend their summer holidays and help working parents find something for their children to do. However, such activities have recently been promoted as an important event in China, with summer camps being deemed a must-do for every child.

Since the year 2000, outdoor activities have gradually expanded from enterprises to primary and middle schools after quality-oriented education was rolled out across China. Until 2009, the summer camps popular among Chinese students were channeled into three categories, learning, physical and mental training and study-touring.

In December 2016, the Ministry of Education and 10 other ministries jointly released a statement promoting study tours for primary and secondary school students, and the industry quickly took off.

Many summer camp organizers from abroad have spoken out about such factors as anxious Chinese parents’ stronger spending power and the mentality of blindly following any after-school education such as camp education, said Mrs Wang, a mother of three who has lived in the U.S. for over 10 years.

Wang explained that the facilities in domestic camps have now surpassed those in the U.S. However, she added that the most reputable U.S. camps depend not on their advanced facilities but instead on the quality of tutors.

She added that summer camp is just one of the options for American students deciding how to spend their summer holidays. About 14 million people in the United States, both parents and children, participate in summer camps every year according to 2013 American Camp Association data, indicating that summer camp students accounted for less than one-third of all school-age children that year.

China started to reward excellent students by sending them on excursions to the then Soviet Union in the early 1950s, marking the start of Chinese summer camps. In the eyes of the older generation, summer camps are still only for a small number of top students, but today, it seems more like good business, available to all.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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