Over the last couple years we have been working with a Christian owned, Beijing based company on different projects designed to bring the power of the camping industry to China. We have hosted campers from China, consulted for Chinese camp leaders, and are now co-founding a camp! Camping in China is relatively new, but the industry is growing fast and they are turning to the West for advice and resources.
Last March, I was asked to go on a speaking tour throughout China, teaching camp leaders some of the foundational principles of camp. Over that two week trip, I grew in my appreciation for two things: the kind Chinese people, and camps in the U.S. Seeing a culture that has not had the advantage of being influenced by camp, caused me to reflect on how much of an impact camping has had on America. It seems to me that most of the people I know in the U.S. have had some form of a camp experience that they consider important to them. Many adults can point to a specific retreat or summer camp week as pivotal to whom they have become. Hardly any of the Chinese people I have spent time with have such stories — I wonder how much more amazing they would be if they did. The American camp model is a powerful tool that we have sharpened to be extremely effective at contributing to our human development and, in general, Chinese camping leaders have a great deal of respect for it. It’s exciting to think of how the Chinese people will benefit from an effective camp industry and it’s such an honor to be able to make contributions toward that effort.
The camp we are co-founding is an adventure program called, “Marine Camp” and is located on the tropical island of Hainan. It will occur during the Chinese New Year holiday and consists primarily of surfing, sailing, kayaking, hiking and swimming lessons. But one of it’s main attractions is that it will be staffed with Americans. Rock-N-Water Americans, that is! Plans are not finalized, but Mel Gattrel and Jay Angiano are currently slated to pioneer this start-up. What an awesome week, and what a dream-team!
This Marine Camp may only serve a handful of Chinese students, but considering the faith and skill of the staff — I wonder what the impact will be on their lives. While this program is just a small one, I wonder if – over time – it will influence how China does camp.