It is a training regime that would do a boot camp proud - 1.5km runs, hundreds of punishing push-ups in the sweltering heat, being forced to swallow spicy sauce for swearing ... even the occasional whipping. But it is not soldiers being put to the test in the grounds of a Zhejiang school but boys being taught discipline, independence and the ability to take care of themselves. Zhejiang's Hangzhou Xidian Boys' School is modelled on and named after the famous West Point Military Academy in the United States (Xidian means West Point in Chinese). It is renowned for knocking uppity, spoilt and unruly boys into shape. Set up three years ago by former kindergarten teacher Wan Guoying , the school targets the 'little emperors' of the mainland's single-child families. 'From my dozen years' experience, I found many parents did not know how to teach children well. So I organised children together here and I train them to be disciplined,' Ms Wan said. The school took in 150 boys from rich mainland families, and some living overseas in places like Italy and Hungary, during the recent two-month summer holidays. One of them was Xu Jianyi , 12, from Shenzhen, once pale and thin but now toned and tanned after two weeks of hard outdoor exercise. He can now lay claim to being able to do push-ups with ease ... and knows the meaning of obedience, having been whipped for breaking school rules. 'I could never reach 20 push-ups before. We have done a large amount of exercises and my shirts get totally wet with sweat four times a day,' he said. Ms Wan makes no apology for borrowing heavily on the famous military academy's heavily disciplined management style. She justifies the punishment as the 'cost of making mistakes'. 'The boys are sent here because their parents cannot discipline them. They are from single-child families that pamper them and never know when to say 'no',' she said. 'These children have never met with hardship or known the cost of making mistakes.' But at Xidian they quickly learn the error of their ways. 'They can use no excuse for their errors. After punishments they know the cost of misbehaving and will feel constrained because they are afraid of being punished,' Ms Wan said. Although Ms Wan has not been to West Point in the US, she has read a lot of reports about it. 'I think it trains students in perseverance and responsibility. That's the reason for the success of its large number of political and business elite alumni,' she said. Ms Wan said she only accepted boys as 'I think boys are naughtier, harder to teach, and they must shoulder more family and social responsibilities when they grow up'. The boys' exposure to the harsher realities of life costs families more than 80 yuan a day. But some parents find it all too much to bear. 'Some parents come and find that their children will have to sleep on hard matting-layered beds and quickly withdraw their applications,' Ms Wan said. Others don't. Xu Jianyi's father, Xu Ziqi , said he wanted his son to develop the ability to adapt to new environments. 'At first he was unwilling to come, fearing the intensive exercise and the physical punishment,' Mr Xu said. 'After much persuasion my son agreed to come and overcome the difficulties.' Another parent, Jin Dongtao , an entrepreneur from Heilongjiang province , sent his son to the school to build up persistence in the hope it would help him in a competitive society. 'After more than a month at the school, my son was showing respect and consideration for older generations. Previously, we had to listen to his anger over the slightest dissatisfaction,' Mr Jin said. Both fathers said they had found that their motivation for sending their sons to the camp was shared by many other parents. According to a survey of 1,933 parents by Sina.com and CCTV last month, 55 per cent of the respondents said they would like to send their children to exercise and management classes or camps. Similar 'pain-taking' camps have emerged in other parts of the mainland, including Beijing, Guangxi and Shaanxi , taking in boys and girls, according to domestic media. Han Xiaoyan , a family specialist from the East China Normal University in Shanghai, said parents were enthusiastic about intensified 'pain-taking' training, mainly because they wanted 'outside forces' to discipline their unruly children. 'They hold a Chinese traditional education philosophy that says 'sticks can teach a good son', which means reprimanding and even beating should be adopted to discipline a naughty child,' Professor Han said. 'Since they have only one child now, they cherish them greatly. They want other people to 'use the stick' instead of themselves.'