HK Magazine Archive

Why are the Streets of Hong Kong Full of Young Kids in Matching T-shirts?

There’s nothing quite as uniquely bonkers as Ocamp.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 1:19pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 5:25pm

The T-shirts are called “Camp Tees,” and all these kids are students on “Ocamp”—that’s “Orientation Camp.” Most countries operate some kind of variation of Fresher’s Week at the start of university, but there’s nothing quite as uniquely bonkers as Ocamp.

Ocamps tend to run from about three days to a week before a university term starts. Bright-eyed students arrive ready to embark on their all-new college careers, and they’re squeezed into t-shirts and given a sequence of ridiculous things to do. 

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Every Ocamp has a “city hunt”—a scavenger hunt in which freshers are given silly tasks to do all over the city. You might be sent to Fortress to ask for a solar-powered flashlight—an old joke from a Stephen Chow movie—or be told to wave at people on treadmills at the gym until they wave back. One source tells Mr. Know-It-All that she had to reenact an entire wedding outside Sha Tin Town Hall, complete with priest, relatives and people singing the wedding march. Repeatedly. 

Then there’s the “Campfire.” Sometimes there’s a circle of flashlights, sometimes there’s not, but the whole group joins in and is taught songs and dances. Most bizarrely, to Cantopop star George Lam’s Cantonese cover of 1979 Eurovision Song Contest Entry “Dschinghis Khan.” It’s exactly as weird as it sounds. 

People stay up talking, getting to know each other. Each of them has to Bo Status: “report status,” or reveal your relationship history. There are letters and numbers, which work like this: 

A – Available, O – Occupied, C – it’s Complicated, NABA – Not Available But Available.

Meanwhile, the number is the number of people you’ve dated. So if you’re A0 you’re a virgin. Meanwhile A380, like the plane, is slang for “slut.”

There’s so, so much more and this only scratches the surface. It’s frankly crazy, but it works. Ocamp is about bringing disparate students together and giving them a way to bond, starting them out on friendships that will get them through college and beyond. Once you’ve learned the dance steps to the Cantonese cover of “Dschinghis Khan” with someone, nothing’s ever going to be the same again.

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