OPINIONS Are expensive overseas summer camps worthwhile?

OPINIONS

Are expensive overseas summer camps worthwhile?

Beijing Review

21:40, October 20, 2017

File photo

Recently, an article about a high-income white-collar mother unable to afford her child's summer camp tuition has gone viral among Chinese parents. According to the story, the mother earns 30,000 yuan ($4,500) a month, but paid 20,000 yuan ($3,000) for her daughter's summer camp stay in the United States.

Overseas summer camp programs are becoming increasingly popular among Chinese students, as they are deemed to provide rare opportunities to experience Western lifestyle and culture. It is also believed that the practice gives the children a competitive advantage over their peers who have no such experience. Some parents are generally willing to spend large sums of money on such programs. Nonetheless, some wonder whether it's worthwhile for young students to partake in such expensive programs.

Chen Siyu (hlj.rednet.cn): In my opinion, we should hold an open and tolerant attitude to such programs. All parents hope their children can develop an international vision, and don't want their children to lose out at such a young age, so we can't blame those parents too much. But I don't think it's a good idea if the child is still very young—too young to even remember what he or she has experienced. Little children should probably go around China with their parents first to appreciate beautiful scenery and get a better understanding of Chinese culture. When they have grown up and developed their own values, then it's all right to go abroad.

Guan Lin (Economic Daily): Objectively speaking, attending these summer programs is a good choice. Such experiences provide opportunities for children to learn about the outside world. When they come back, they can better understand Western culture and cultural differences in different countries.

Still, parents must be cautious regarding these educational institutions' fancy advertisements. Many such programs are more related to tour groups than summer camps. They cost a lot of money, but children learn little. Besides, whether or not parents send their children to such programs must be based on their financial situation—they should not do so simply because others are.

It's best not to go if the program is just an overseas tour. Some parents even feel sorry for their children if they can't afford it, believing that if their children don't go, they'll lose out to their peers. Actually, there are many ways for young students to broaden their perspectives, and even countryside tours can provide a lot of useful knowledge.

Cao Fei (Shanghai Observer): Nowadays, both good and bad institutions are operating in the overseas summer camp market. A number of programs claiming to send children into prestigious universities are nothing but guided tours, and those participating either sit on the grass or play games on campus. They experience "Western culture" by having dinner in Chinese restaurants, staying in hotels run by Chinese businessmen and even take classes in Chinese communities. In extreme cases, some organizations are not qualified to operate such programs, but still manage to earn large sums of profit simply by adding "overseas summer camps" to the names of their tour packages.

Owing to the lack of relevant information, parents find it hard to tell which programs are good or bad. This situation can easily be exploited by summer program operators.

Critics argue that parents should learn to resist the trend and accept the fact that although some send their children abroad, not everyone has to follow suit. Currently, the market situation has deteriorated to the extent that relevant authorities can no longer turn a blind eye to its activities. At least, watchdogs should try to clean the market, so as to minimize the possibility of parents being tricked.

Zhao Xia (www.cjn.cn): An important reason why parents like to send their children to such programs is that they hope that tours of prestigious universities will encourage their children to study hard. However, some such programs provide more touring than learning activities. Some only provide tours. In other programs, the learning experience is replaced with shopping, with students rummaging through various stores.

The mess in the overseas summer camp market, apart from being stimulated by robust demand, also reveals a lack of standards, regulation and supervision by authorities. Without effective supervision, parents have nowhere to complain. Even if parents are unsatisfied with the programs, they can only swallow their discontent silently.

At the current stage, to prevent these programs from being used unscrupulously, it's important to strengthen supervision and regulate the market.

Parents themselves should also develop a correct understanding of such programs. In particular, they should not get into unrealistic competition with other parents. Not all children are fit to be sent to such programs, and parents should make reasonable arrangements for how their children spend their summer vacation.

Parents must carefully check whether the organizations providing these services have travel agency business licenses and outbound tourism business licenses. They should never be deluded by the hype behind these institutions.

Moreover, travel agencies must try to offer quality and helpful summer programs. These trips should combine travel and learning experiences. This may not be simple to accomplish, so it's hoped that travel agencies will do more to improve their business, instead of swindling parents.

Zhang Li (Beijing Evening News): While more and more problems have propped up concerning the so-called overseas summer camps, we still believe some programs are focused on education and helping students to acquire. In order to meet demand, the market is expanding at a fast pace. In 2016, 650,000 visits were paid by students to Western countries as a result of summer camps, resulting in revenues of 12 billion yuan ($1.8 billion).

Of course, there must be supervision and regulation, without which the government would be acting irresponsibly toward the next generation and consumers. Actually, in 2014 the Ministry of Education issued guidelines for primary and middle school students' overseas summer camps and programs: The time spent on learning and studying should not be less than half of the overall journey.

Watchdogs should also provide guidance and suggestions, and sometimes, it's necessary to impose punishment on travel agencies that break the law. Joint efforts on several sides might make these summer programs what they should be in near future.

Related Stories

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy to comply with the latest laws and regulations. The updated policy explains the mechanism of how we collect and treat your personal data. You can learn more about the rights you have by reading our terms of service. Please read them carefully. By clicking AGREE, you indicate that you have read and agreed to our privacy policies

Agree and continue