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Are summer camps ripping off Chinese students?

“I cannot afford my daughter’s summer holiday expense even if my monthly pay is 30,000 yuan,” this is a complaint from a mother in south China’s Guangdong Province. Her post soon sparked a heated debate online, as many middle class parents in China say they are facing the same dilemma. 

Summer camps are growing in popularity across China during the long summer vacation. Often designed with an educational purpose, summer camps are priced at around 20,000 yuan (3,000 US dollars) each.

However, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that children attending summer camps can hardly take lessons or learn from any field trips, as many trips are mixed with shopping and touring projects.

China Daily Photo

“The number of summer camp consumers is expanding,” Liu Ting, director of Xindongfang Education, told Xinhua. “Over half consumers (51.2%) chose America as their destination, followed by Britain and Australia, based on a survey we did with Peking University this year.”

However, many parents complain children could only take educational field trips if the summer camp is connected to a prestigious college. A primary school in Beijing, not connected to a prestigious college, even arranged a visit to a gambling house in Las Vegas during a school summer camp.

China Daily Photo

“By the time my daughter traveled to a school in America, but they were on holiday too. The agency rent a meeting room in a college and invited local students to take class together. It feels more like acting, rather than a real class,” said a mother of a middle school student, surname He, told Xinhua. 

“And they went to Harvard and Yale only for a one-day sightseeing trip, which is very different from what the agency promised to me,” said He. 

According to Ipsos 2016 report of summer camp market in China, the satisfaction rate is only 40.8%. 

Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper reported on July 29 that residents in Cambridge are fed up with the more than 5 million tourists who visit the town every summer. Those without official licenses also joined punting groups and tout for business. Local authorities warned those who punt on River Cam could even face a prison sentence.