Taking a shot at army life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 1997, 12:00am

A platoon of 'spoiled' young city-slickers will march off to the mainland today to toughen up in a military-style boot camp.

The 30 raw recruits, aged 12 to 14, will undergo eight days of spine-stiffening drill at the Youth Academy of Zhongshan in Guangdong.

Ocean Jaycees and the Youth Federation of Zhongshan have organised the camp, the first of its kind offered to Hong Kong youth.

'Nowadays children are spoiled at home,' said Ocean Jaycees vice-president Francesca Ng Pui-nei.

'They depend too much on their parents.

'They seldom do the cleaning up or learn to tidy their own beds.

'Through this activity, we hope they can learn to be independent and disciplined and develop leadership qualities.' Territory students will be joined by 100 others from Guangdong schools. The cadets will learn parade-ground marching, how to stand guard and carry out patrols, and will get to fire military weapons.

All have undergone medical checks to ensure they are fit enough for the manoeuvres.

On the first day, the cadets will be required to swear allegiance to their country like all enlisted soldiers do.

Their days will begin with a 6 am call to fall in for the raising of the national flag and the anthem.

If the youngsters last the distance, they will be able to take part in a passing-out parade, the square-bashing highlight for cadets worldwide.

The Youth Academy of Zhongshan was established in 1994. The basis for its military-style training for mainland students has been the five 'selfs'.

They are self-learning, self-reasoning, self-discipline, self-defence and self-empowerment.

Two who expressed excitement about the exercise were Lee Chun-wai, 13, and Jennifer Go Le-lin, 12.

'It will be worthwhile,' Chun-wai said. 'I hope to learn about team spirit and how to shoot.' But his father, Lee Chiu-shing, confessed he was worried.

'He is too young to take care of himself and be away from his family for all this hard training,' he said.

But Mr Lee said his son, an only child, would meet new people and learn how to interact in difficult situations.

Le-lin's father Anthony Go Kuo-siang, agreed: 'Making different friends and learning different routines will be a very good experience.' Mr Go, who moved back to Hong Kong from Australia 10 years ago, said the camp was an opportunity for his daughter - born overseas - to understand more about China.

Even Le-lin's mother Annie Go Cheung Yu-fung was excited about her introduction to military-style training in a mainland setting.

'Discipline has got to be good for her self-confidence and should help with study and work,' Mrs Go said.

She said that because families were now smaller, many parents were prone to doing too much for their children.

Even her daughter, who admitted being quite nervous about the camp, said she wanted to be more independent and disciplined.