Canada offers a contrast in styles

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 March, 2004, 12:00am

Students can help enhance their independence at two contrasting Canadian summer programmes.

The Young Achievers' Summer Programme in Belleville, Ontario, run by the Canadian Education Centre for 12 to 17-year-olds, and the Hong Kong YMCA's Camp Elphinstone in Vancouver, for eight to 14-year-olds, both aim at self- development.

Young Achievers includes writing workshops, team building, public speaking and leadership skills. All candidates are interviewed to ensure suitability. Strong English is a must and participants must be prepared to stay with a Canadian family.

'Most pre-teens and teenagers need a bit of encouragement to try something different. In a competitive environment like Hong Kong, with their parents around, it might be difficult to change. So we came up with the idea of the camp,' said Yiu Mei-mei, director of the non-profit Canadian Education Centre that promotes learning opportunities in Canada.

Parents have proved highly supportive, she said, not only sending their own children but helping others by providing scholarships. Spaces are limited to about 30.

Camp Elphinstone in Vancouver involves different outdoor activities in a forest setting where children share 10-person cabins. 'We spread children out, two to a cabin, so they get a chance to mix with Canadian and other international students,' said Vien Wong Wai-yan, programme officer, YMCA camping and community programmes section.

'The camp has a recreational base and is a blend of sports and nature activities. By enjoying the camp, we want children to widen their scope, make friends and learn to get on well with others.'

Meals are provided but students are expected to help out with basic duties such as tidying up the cabins. The YMCA recruits on a first-come-first-served basis with 15 students maximum for each of the three groups.