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Expat Youth Camps in Beijing this Fall

The annual fall camps for expat youth in Beijing are coming up this November. It’s a two day, overnight event for expatriate teens from around China. There are activities, worship, teaching, and a whole lot of fun with 100+ TCKs!

High School camp is for teens in grades 9-12 (approx ages 15-18) and is on November 5th and 6th. Click here to register online.

Middle School camp is for teens in grades 6-8 (approx ages 12-14) and is on November 12th and 13th. Click here to register online.

The camp fee is 500 RMB, which includes accommodation, food, and transport from Beijing to the campsite and back again.

Kids come in from around China to attend, so if you know any teens in China who would enjoy attending, pass the info along! Travel scholarships are available for families without the financial means to send kids to camp (post a comment if you want more info about that).

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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Special Events, TCKs

 

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TCK Summers: Katie

Hi :):) I’m Katie, a 16 year old Aussie/Kiwi. I lived in New Zealand, where I was born, for nine years, in Belgium for five years, and I’ve now been in Beijing, China, for almost two years.

What does a normal summer look like?
There’s no typical summer plan for my family. My parents and I end up in completely different places doing completely different things. For example, last summer I first participated in a service project in Brussels, then went Wales and France, back to Belgium, then finally back to Beijing. My parents stayed in Beijing for most of the summer, then came to Brussels and afterwards went to a wedding in Ghana. And this changes every year…

The last time I spent the whole summer with my family was in 2007, if I remember correctly. We went back to New Zealand and Australia for 5 weeks. The next year, I went to the States to visit friends; in 2009 I went back to NZ alone to visit relatives; last summer I went to Europe and spent only a week of that time with part of my family.

What would my perfect summer be?
I’m torn between the idea of returning to my original home in New Zealand where I have family, and returning to Belgium which was my home for more than 5 years. I never felt torn between them until I left Belgium. When I was living in Belgium, I was quite happy to take any opportunity to go back to NZ. However, now that I’m in Beijing, I feel more torn between the countries. Just the other day my father asked me where I would like to spend next Christmas. While I have family in NZ that I would love to see, I also would like to go to Belgium where my immediate family will probably spend Christmas, and where I have good friends and many memories. I don’t know in which country my ideal summer would be as I’m deeply attached to both NZ and Belgium.

What am I doing this summer?
At the beginning of the summer, I will be attending a 12 day program in the States, in D.C. and New York, then coming back to Beijing for the rest of the summer, trying to get ahead in my school work for next year, and possibly doing a summer job.

What is my favourite summer memory?
My favourite summer memory would probably be spending time with my relatives in New Zealand, where I can also escape the summer heat as that is New Zealand wintertime. It’s nice to spend a decent amount of time back in the place that I’m tempted to call home, to reconnect with people and remember where I’m from.

The country I call home definitely depends on my mood and whom I’m talking to. When talking to Australians I can feel right at home — until they make fun of New Zealanders, at which point I jump to the Kiwis’ defense, and realize that I am more of a Kiwi than an Australian after all. To add to that confusion, after living in Belgium for 5 years, I had become quite attached to their culture, and I spoke French better than I did English. Then I really did not know where to call home.

After much contemplation, I decided to give NZ that title (most of the time) because I have the family that I’m closest to there, old friends, and it is what I describe as a “fall back country”. A fall back country is like a safety net, it’s the place where I can go back to and feel comfortable and at home with family around me, if I should ever need that at any point during my life. For me, that place is New Zealand.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Guest Posts, TCK Summers

 

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Teens talk about the Beijing Expat Youth Conference

The BICF (with support from CCC) runs two camps/conferences every year for expat teens in Beijing. This year’s Spring Conference happened April 2nd-3rd and involved about 200 people. Mark Oestreicher (Marko) came from the US to speak, and the Joe Aylor Worship Band came in from Texas to lead worship.

Four teens from 3 of the 6 youth groups who attended have shared with us some of their reflections on the weekend and what it meant to them. We hope you are encouraged as you read about how these kids were affected. The time and effort put into running events for TCKs really does pay off.

OneWay

Mikaela in an Australian 13 year old who has lived in China for six years. She lives in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province – a city of 7 million people located 650km south of Beijing. She joined the OneWay group for the Spring Conference (along with about 20 other teens who live outside Beijing).

Camp has been a fantastic part of my life this past year, as well as a very big part of my spiritual growth. This past Spring Camp especially with the awesome praise and worship, spectacular sermons, and fantastic seminars. I know that the seminar I chose, Forgiveness, really gave me a new perspective on it and helped me understand it much better. I really walked away from camp this April with a sense of understanding the bible better, and a sense of being understood and accepted by the people there.
Hey, being a thirteen year old girl in a city with only three other TCK girls my age (this year) is tough, but having camp there to look forward to twice a year makes me love being here and makes camp that much more special. My favorite part of camp is always opening my eyes during praise and worship, looking around and seeing other kids of all ages, genders, and nationalities together praising God. Some with their hands up, some with the arms around others shoulders, some on their knees, and others praying together. That is always the part that makes me smile and cry with joy the most. I honestly couldn’t have wished for my last camp to be any better.

Crossroads

Elisa is a 15 year old girl from Finland – who has never lived in Finland. She was born in Switzerland, moved to France at age 2, to the US at 7 and a half, then to China at age 12. 

In all the places I’ve lived I’ve never gone to church, never been part of a congregation, never been at Sunday School or had a youth group. Here in China, I joined Crossroads by my own choice, and I love it! Recently, I was a part of the Beijing Expat Youth Conference on the 2nd and 3rd of April and it was amazing!! I consider myself quite a new Christian, and meeting all the other youths was awesome, since we were all there for one purpose: to praise Him and to have fun doing it! The guest speaker, “Marko”, was also super. His funny anecdotes linked his teachings to real life and gave me perspective, which is really important in my opinion. He also used metaphors that I’ve never thought about before when talking about very well-known Bible passages, which really made everything click and made me see just how awesome God’s love is for us! I loved the worship and messages, and it all proved to me once again how amazing our God is, and how our love for Him can move so many to take part in a thing like this! I’m definitely doing it again next year!

Jonathan is a 16 year old from Singapore, and has lived in San Francisco (5 years), Taipei (2 years) and Beijing (3 years). He is in Year 11 (Grade 10) at Dulwich College.

Although I’m leaving Maotown in about six weeks, I’m pleased to say that this last Spring Conference I’ve had in my short run here in Beijing has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life; Mark-O’s eagle and three-stepper analogies were flawless, and the Joe Aylor crew were amazing in leading us into a time of intimate worship- one that I’ve never experienced to such a passionate degree before. The Holy Spirit flooded the room in its awesome power, and struck like a tidal wave, engulfing every young soul in that place in genuflecting cognizance. It was truly a spectacle to behold. My only regret is not being able to spend an additional two days having the time of my life with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ while also growing closer in wisdom and erudition in seeking after and ‘carrying our crosses’, so to speak, towards Jesus. Conferences should be longer! May the future BICF-CCC conferences thrive further and bring new brothers and sisters into the family of the LORD!

ReGen

Anne is a 16 year old from the USA, but she was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Beijing China her whole life. She is homeschooled and is currently finishing up 10th grade.

At the start of campference this year I was not at all excited or even interested in being there. I kept telling myself that I really didn’t want to go to camp, but I was already signed up. Also, I’m the sort of person who once I start going to an event every fall and spring, I have to go to every one if possible. :) So on Saturday morning I was at the Marriott signing in and getting my camp t-shirt. Once I saw all my friends I began to feel a little better about being at conference. At the start I was also skeptical about the new way of separating by youth group, but I found that I liked it a lot better than I thought I would.

One thing that I always like about camps/conferences is the worship.  I like learning new songs and getting excited about it. Over the weekend I was able to learn some of the songs we sang multiple times. Worship was one of my favorite parts of camp.I enjoyed how Marko (the speaker) looked at the passages we read in a new way. It was interesting to think about the people around Jesus, and how they acted. I hadn’t noticed before in the passage about the paralytic being lowered through the roof that his friends had so much faith. Anyways it was good to hear the stories told in a unique way.

One of the parts of camp where I think I learned the most was Tanya’s workshop. Everything was clear, backed up with Bible verses, thought provoking, and helpful for life. I’m not just saying that because Tanya asked me to write for this blog either, I really mean it. Normally when people hand me papers in a Sunday school class or at youth group I can’t think of anything to write in the blank spaces, but in this workshop I barely had time to finish writing everything I had to say. It was really good think about  how God refines us to develop purity and strength in us. God taught me, and others as well, a lot from that workshop.

During camp God was teaching me (and still is) to depend on him for everthing, especially joy. On Sunday night before dinner everyone had some free time, and some other people and I were standing around talking. Somehow we started tossing a half-filled waterbottle around, and soon we had a little circle of people throwing around this waterbottle. It was really fun, I’m still not really sure why, but several funny things happened and by the end most of us were laughing so hard we were either on the floor or we were crying. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed so hard. So all that to say, that was the happiest time I had at camp, and it made me even more grateful for the friends God’s given me.

I had a lot of mixed emotions about camp, but overall it was a really positive experience.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Special Events, TCKs

 

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TCK Summers: Hannah

I’m Hannah. I’m 16 years old, a junior in high school, and live in a small town in western China. When I was one year old I lived in far western China for a year, then we moved back to Oklahoma (my home state in the US) and lived there until I was 13. Then we moved to a city in Northeast China and spent two years there, and now I’m at the end of my first year here.

What does a “normal” summer look like for you/your family?
I’ve actually only had 2 summers as a TCK. My first was spent in China (in our small town) and it was really boring. I pretty much just lazed around the whole time. Last summer we went back to the States. It was probably the busiest summer I’ve had in my whole life. The day after we got back, we spoke at our home fellowship. Then every weekend after that we traveled around our state speaking in a bazillion different places. In between those weekends, people threw barbecues and had us come and talk, or we were invited to some kind of dinner. I would say I was only actually in the place where my suitcase was 40% of the time. We would go somewhere, come back, unpack our backpacks, put in clean clothes, and head out to another place. When I didn’t have to be somewhere smiling, shaking hands, and answering questions about China, I was able to hang out with my friends there quite a bit, which was definitely a blessing! We were also very torn by family that summer. Both sides live on completely different ends of our state and were both very “grabby” I guess you would call it. They wanted to spend as much time with us as they could. All in all, it was a very frustrating, but rewarding summer. He taught me a lot about having grace towards people who don’t really understand my situation.

What would an ideal summer look like for you?
Ooo, good question! I guess that changes from year to year. This summer it would probably be to go back to America for like 3 weeks, see my friends, get my license, eat as much delicious American food as I could, then come back and stay in Beijing for the rest of the summer hanging out with my friends there. I love my American friends and definitely want to see them, but I’m a lot closer with my China friends and it would be awesome to get some extra time to hang out with them.

What will you be doing this summer? (And where will you be doing it)
This summer I will be going back to the States. I’m guessing it will be a lot like last summer–very busy. However, different from last summer, I will hopefully be able to get my license, and we will be going around checking out different possible colleges for next year.

What is your best summer memory?
I don’t know if I have a specific “best” or “favorite” summer memory, but I can tell one of the ones I really enjoyed! Last summer we got back to the States on July 3rd, so Independence Day was the next day. My best friend in the States invited me to a party thing at her house, just setting off firecrackers, having roman candle wars, eating a lot of junk food, all the stuff you do on the 4th. So, even though I was majorly jet-lagging, I decided to go and check it out. It was so much fun. It was a lot of my friends that I hadn’t seen in 2 years. We laid on the trampoline and looked at the stars, we burned each other with roman candles, we crammed like 10 people in one room for sleeping. They ended up keeping me up until like 2:30 and then I crashed. It was just a really fun night of like reconnection with my group of friends there and really awesome memories.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Guest Posts, TCK Summers

 

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Great Glowstick Games: Human Pac-Man

An important thing to remember when running games is to work with what you’ve got. Use the unique characteristics of the environment you’re in.

For a few years, the Beijing Expat Youth camps were held at a conference centre in the far south of Beijing. The grounds of the centre had all sorts of odd fields. The most unusual feature was an abandoned maze. It was originally a water maze – cement walls enclosed waterways which little boats paddled along. Higher walls formed the maze, and trees grew all through. By the time we came along, there was no water – just a few half-rotten boats and a lot of leaf litter lying in the bottom of a cement maze. It was dingy and not a little dangerous. So, of course, we used it for night games!

The most famous game we ever ran in the abandoned maze was Human Pac-Man. We created it for our second camp there, with the maze in mind.

Human Pac-Man
4 teams
4 garbage bins
15 large balls
30 medium size balls
200+ little balls (we used pingpong balls)
8 sheets

The kids got a few glowsticks each to light themselves up with. When we arrived at the maze, they were divided into their teams, each of them gathering in a different corner of the maze. In each team’s corner was a plastic garbage bin, which they would use to collect their points.

When the whistle blew to start the game, the kids left their corners in search of balls – the bigger the ball, the more points it was worth. They were human pac-men, in search of delicious dots. Once they deposited the balls in their team garbage bin, they were “safe”. At the conclusion of the game, the contents of the bins were counted and the team with the most points won.

Of course, pac-man has a nemesis: the ghosts! 8 leaders were sent around the maze, each draped in a sheet of some kind. When caught by a ghost, kids had to drop any balls they’d collected and follow the ghost to the “prison” in a large open space at the centre of the maze. Kids were free to collect balls in any section of the maze, not just near their home base, but the farther they roamed, the higher the risk of getting caught.

The prison was run like many we’ve run before and since – kids were required to do all sorts of random things to get free and return to the action. Sometimes they had to sing silly songs, or do silly dances, or perhaps provide profuse flattery to the leader in charge!

And there you have it – a very simple game. Easy to set up, easy to teach, easy to run. No bizarre rules to explain (or get confused), no weird supplies to locate. Running it as a night game meant the balls weren’t too simple too find, and made the ghosts more ghostly.

So why was this game so popular? Why is it still remembered so fondly, 5 years after the fact?

I think there are two main reasons.

1) It captured imaginations

Most people have played the computer game Pac Man. It was easy to relate the simple elements of the game we were playing to the computer game they remembered – making the whole thing seem much more sophisticated than it actually was. We weren’t running around collecting balls and avoiding leaders – we were in a computer eating dots and fleeing from ghosts!

2) Location, location, location

This game only worked because we were running around an old maze. Without those walls, the idea of being in the computer game falls apart. By creating a game that worked with the unique location available to us, we were able to make the game more than a game. It was a special game, one that is forever associated in all our minds with that location.

So why tell you this? I assume it’s unlikely you’ll be running night games in your own abandoned maze any time soon. If you do have access to a maze for night games, keep Human Pac-Man in mind! For the rest of you, though, consider those two points when preparing games for your own events.

Capture Imaginations – instead of running complex games, use simple games with easily understood rules, and make them interesting with a great story.

Location – make the most of the location you have. Choose, or create, games that engage with the environment they’re played in.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Games

 

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30 Hour Famine Report from Beijing

Over 100 expat kids and 40 leaders came together for a large 30 Hour Famine event in Beijing, China. 6 youth groups from three churches joined in (One Way from BICF ZGC; ReGen, 21st MS and Crossroads from BICF 21st; Rev and Bongos from CCC).

This report was written by Chloe Harris. Chloe was an English TCK in Hongkong; she now works with TCKs in Beijing, where she studies poverty relief. The accompanying photos were taken by Josh Haller, another ATCK who works with TCKs in Beijing.

Beijing’s 30 Hour Famine took place on the 4-5th April this year. It was an amazing event combining worship, poverty, justice, mercy, compassion, and youth. The kids raised…well…you’ll have to get to the end of this blog post to find out, but lets just say that it was enough for several youth leaders and kids to lose head, face, and leg hair.

[Two kids raised money by shaving their heads. The city’s two youth pastors also promised to lose some hair if the kids managed to raise $30,000 USD by the night of the famine event. Matt Banker shaved his mustache, beard, and head; John Sorrell had his legs waxed. All this in front of a crowd of (hungry) teens!]

Jonny, Jason, Matt and John losing hair for the cause...

Jonny, Jason, Matt and John losing hair for the cause...

On the Friday night, 6 hours after kids had eaten their last mouthful of food, the 30 Hour Famine event began. Immediately, we were reminded that people in Haiti lost their families, friends, homes, and access to clean water, shelter and education in just 35 seconds. We looked to God and began worshiping Him in song.

Shortly afterwards, there was a power cut in the building and everyone was evacuated. Once outside in the cold, we were informed that the building behind us had collapsed, and we needed to make our shelter for the night out of the rubble that we found on the ground. Our group set about making a giant cardboard igloo. [Thanks to Santa Fe for donating 200 packing boxes for our shelters!]

Various cardboard constructions made by the Beijing 30 Hour Famine youth. Yes, they slept outside in these shelters!

Various cardboard constructions made by Beijing youth. Yes, they slept outside in these shelters! After two weeks of mild weather, the temperature dropped below freezing during the night.

We grabbed our sleeping bags, snuggled in our home for the night, and marvelling at how warm and cosy we were, with a great sense of satisfaction at our architectural and constructional abilities, we fell asleep. At 4am, Beijing, one of the driest places on earth, decided to pour down with rain on us, and we moved inside, sadly abandoning our cardboard igloo.

Painting with kids at Bethel

Painting with kids at Bethel

The next day, we set off on a coach to Bethel Orphanage, home for over 40 Chinese kids who are blind. Watching some of the youth play guitar and sing songs was absolutely inspiring. It was amazing to see how a group of TCK youth, and a group of kids who are blind, met together to share in their love of God, and their desire to worship him. The youth painted, cleaned play equipment, and did some serious digging. Some kids had the task of baking chocolate chip cookies, surrounded by amazing baking smells, a painful task for someone who is fasting…

Back at the centre, with 2 hours until the end of the famine, we had more times of sharing, praying and worshiping God. We broke the fast with communion, an incredible reminder of the body broken and the blood poured out for us on the cross. However, we weren’t allowed to take communion for ourselves, it had to be served to us, and we broke into small groups to pray.

Afterwards, we were handed a spoon of peanut butter, a small cup of some kind of mushy, grainy substance, and a mini orange. Kids were thankful, but a little confused, until it was explained to us that when severely malnourished children turn up at a World Vision relief camp, this is the meal that they are given, as it’s gentle on their bodies and easy to digest. [The break-the-fast meal was prepared using recipes supplied by World Vision: a corn meal mush and a peanut-butter-plus mixture served to severely malnourished children. The mandarin oranges were added to the meal because, as we told the kids, “we love you”.]

Each handprint represent one child fed for a month

Each handprint represent one child fed for a month

There were no complaints, no grumbling, we realised that hungry kids live on this earth, and we hardly ever think about them. Some kids shared the way that we always complain ‘Mum, I’m starving’, yet millions of kids around the world actually understand what it is to be starving, and we have no idea.

The 30 Hour Famine is all about ‘Students around the world loving God and fighting hunger’. It really has to be in this order. I felt that this weekend, students understood that worship isn’t just about singing, its about living our lives as a response to God, in response to his outpouring of love poured out for us through his death on the cross.

So how much was raised? The total is now over 250,000RMB, over 38,500 USD. The amount of money raised was enough to feed one child in Haiti for nearly every Beijing youth who was there, for a whole year. This is an incredible amount for 111 kids to raise, they did an amazing job. My lasting prayer is that its not just about the money though, that is would always be about transforming lives in the name of Christ, and in order for us to help change lives, we need to allow God to change and transform us first.

 
 

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30 Hour Famine in Beijing

Last year about 80 teenagers in Beijing did the 30 Hour Famine and raised $25,000 USD to go to benefit people in Haiti, where the earthquake had happened so recently. Not bad for their first time taking part!

This year there are 130 teens signed up for the Beijing Famine, and they’re aiming to raise at least $30,000 USD, to again go toward rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

See the promo video featuring 6 of the Beijing teens who are taking part in this year’s 30 Hour Famine

Their fast and overnight event are happening this weekend, March 4th and 5th. The event includes several hours of service, where the kids will visit a school for blind orphans and help out with yardwork etc.

It’s great to see TCKs getting involved in raising money for charity. There have been bake sales at several schools, kids auctioning off their hair, a swim-a-thon, and other creative fundraising initiatives. The group is also raising money online – you can sponsor individual kids or the group as a whole here.

**Update: we’ve posted a report from the event (including photos). The group reached their fundraising target – to find out how much they raised, read the report!

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Other, Special Events, TCKs

 

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