Kids get a sporting chance

Updated: 2014-06-25 07:03

By Liu Zhihua (China Daily)

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When 20-year-old Wang Ying attended a weight-loss summer camp in Beijing last July in an effort to slim down, she was surprised to see a number of high school students joining her.

Yijian Sports, the company that organized Wang's weight-loss camp, has now launched a fitness summer camp specially designed for overweight adolescents.

The living conditions are similar to staying at a three-star hotel, and each child has an individualized diet and exercise plan designed by experts who have served China's national Olympic team.

They also have strict timelines for meals, exercise, medium-to-short-distance hiking and sleep.

"I was not surprised at all when we received calls and reservations for the adolescent camp as soon as we posted the news on our website," says Shi Canbin, chief manager with Yijian Sports.

"Parents are willing to spend money on their children's wellbeing. Sport camps have been increasingly popular among parents and children."

A resident surnamed Han in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, recently paid more than 16,000 ($2,600) for his two sons to go to a five-day summer golf camp.

His sons, aged 6 and 11, have been receiving golf lessons for the past year.

The lesson prices differ from coach to coach. The cheapest coaches charge about 800 yuan an hour, while the most expensive ones ask for about 4,500 yuan an hour.

When Han heard the golf school was going to have summer camps this year, he enrolled his two boys immediately.

Many of his sons' schoolmates attend similar expensive summer camps, Han says, adding both boys attend high-end private schools, and he has decided to enroll them in middle schools in the United States when they are older.

"I have sent them to overseas study camps and tourism summer camps. Now I want them to enjoy sports," Han says, who is also a golf lover.

Golf is a good sport to exercise the whole body. But most importantly, Han considers the golf camp an extraordinary opportunity for the boys to make friends with others.

"I want them to have their own 'friend circle' and get used to developing connections," Han says.

"They will sooner or later know the importance of connections and friends, and I want them to start early."

Cai Jing, an executive in charge of summer golf camps at Mission Hills, a high-end golf and leisure resort in Guangdong province, says wealthy middle class Chinese families are increasingly interested in exposing their children to high-end sports, including golf.

The resort group has been organizing golf camps since last year, and it seems their supply always falls short of demand.

Every camp is fully booked shortly after it starts recruiting. Campers' parents are mostly middle to senior company executives. Some families own their own businesses.

Most of those children go to private schools. Unlike public schools that are mainly focused on academic studies, private schools attach greater importance to sport and other activities, Cai notes.

Shi Canbin, owner of Yijian Sports, thinks his camp is not expensive even though the 28-day camp costs about 8,000 yuan.

"Nothing is more important than health and happiness," Shi says.

 Kids get a sporting chance

Schoolchildren attend a summer golf camp in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 06/25/2014 page20)