Kids learn independence at basketball camp abroad
Most Chinese 9-year-olds spend their summer close to home under the supervision of parents or grandparents, but Qin Chen spent part of the holiday improving his basketball skills at a summer school in Barcelona, Spain.
Qin, who prefers to be called Marco, had practiced basketball for a year at a local club in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, but was keen to improve so he joined five other Chinese schoolchildren for a weeklong summer camp at the Audie Norris Basketball Camp — away from his parents — to pursue his favorite hobby.
The annual camp was set up by retired NBA basketball player Audie Norris, who also played in Spain and served as head coach of the Chinese team in the Jump10 Elite Training Camp in 2016.
Marco said he was selected to be the coach’s assistant because he could speak English and translate for those who could not understand the language well.
“The training was very hard, and I was tired every day. But I am very proud that all of us finished the training,” Marco said, adding that he learned a lot from the older boys but felt he was still far behind. He made a lot of friends, and regrets not asking for their contact details.
The program was initially suggested by Marco’s training club coach, Chavi, a former player in the Spanish Basketball Clubs Association league.
According to Wu Yiping, Marco’s mother, “Chavi knows all about the camp, as he was invited as the guest speaker to share his experience with the
campers last year. We believed in him and trusted his choice.”
The basketball camp costs 10,000 yuan ($1,500) per week, including food and lodging, which Wu said was reasonable. She traveled to Spain with her son but did not attend the camp. She believes her choice to send her son to the camp is a good example for Chinese families more focused on talent development than on language immersion.
Wu said she wanted Marco to have the experience of living abroad, which was a key factor in her decision.
“I was really interested to see what my son could do in a totally foreign environment, to test his independence and interdependence, and to learn to trust him being on his own,” she said.
The children had to travel two metro stops between the training center and their living quarters every day, which Wu said was her biggest concern.
“I worried about what would happen if they got separated from the coach and got lost on the way to training,” she said.
Wu said the experience was as educational for parents as it was for the children: “I have discovered the strength and potential of my kid, and have learned to stay calm and allow him to solve problems by himself.”
She hopes Marco will be able to attend an international basketball camp in China.
Globalization should not just mean us traveling abroad, but also others coming to China,” she said.
Qin Chen gives his opinions on how children are trained at basketball clubs in China.