Pre-pandemic, LWB had a dynamic life skills program for children preparing to “age out” of institutional care in China. Hundreds of teens went through our camp program, coming together in Beijing to receive lessons on personal finance, self-esteem, career counseling, reproductive health, and so much more.
In August, after a four-year hiatus, our Life Skills Program was up and running once more! 34 young people from three different orphanages converged on Beijing to take part in our 2023 Life Skills Camp for vulnerable teens. They were joined by 11 chaperones and staff and 5 mentors who had attended camp in past years and affirmed what a difference it made in their lives as adults.
Each morning, the campers visited key tourist sites in Beijing while learning critical skills such as navigating public transportation, ordering at restaurants, budgeting their weekly allowance, and learning to work as a team with people they’d never met before. Kids growing up in an institution rarely encounter these practical life skills.
Each afternoon, the campers attended formal (but fun) lectures to help them succeed at adulting.
At the end of the first class session, the campers were asked to fill out a questionnaire that included attributes like their dreams, hobbies, friends, personality traits, and even fingerprints.
These questionnaires were placed on the wall and celebrated, showing the campers that each of them is unique and each of them has value. Most of the campers had never heard or realized that they have qualities and abilities of which they can be proud.
But the lesson that everyone matters isn’t something that can just be told to them. It is something they need to experience. We hope that the compassion, love, encouragement, and patience that they received from the staff and mentors at camp will help the truth sink further into their being and give them a more hopeful future.
So many wonderful memories and friendships were made.
We’re so grateful to everyone whose support made this week of Life Skills Camp in China possible. It is our deepest hope that the campers will internalize the knowledge that their dreams and goals matter and that each of them counts and matters.
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