Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

July 3, 2014

Sharing an American summer

SHED bringing traditional day camp experience to visiting Chinese students

Barbecues, swimming and s’mores await a group of visiting Chinese youngsters who are about to turn American day campers in Andover for a week this summer.

SHED (Shawsheen Extended Day) is hosting 14 Chinese students from Beijing in grades four to nine at its Team Adventure summer day camp.

The week-long camp opens on Monday, July 7, at Kid’s Club on Phillips Street, which is the location for the town’s extended-day, after-school care program.

The visiting Chinese students, who are staying with nine host families scattered around town, are hoping to get a slice of what it’s like to be on summer vacation in the U.S.

In exchange for hosting one of the visitors, the local families, all of which have children ages 5 to 14, will receive a complimentary week of tuition to the camp.

“They want to get a true family feeling in terms of food and culture,” said Linda Shottes-Bouchard, executive director at SHED Children’s Campus, of the Chinese youngsters. “We are the only summer day camp doing anything like this. We are excited about this ... our kids are looking forward to this.”

The camp exchange program is being coordinated through a collaboration with the U.S. China Scitech Education Promotion Association. Its director, Pei Zhang, lives in Andover and has a daughter attending Kid’s Club.

“I’m from China and I know that programs like this are crucially important to both countries. A connection between families is wonderful,” said Zhang, who has been running student exchanges between the two countries for four years.

Typically, Zhang’s business works with high school exchange programs, including one at Andover High, and the visiting students are housed in dorms at Bentley College in Waltham.

The SHED summer day camp exchange is a first for her business. But Zhang is confident it will be successful.

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