The camp industry is a fairly new, but rapidly growing trend in China. Our partner, aeCamps believed that it was essential to bring a team of experts to China to share knowledge about design for youth recreation camps. With Greg Copeland’s 45+ years of experience working with youth recreation camps and as author of, Camp Design: Master Planning Basics coupled with Stefanie Smith’s experience living and working in Suzhou, China, the Domokur team was a natural fit. After one year of planning for the trip and support from the entire Domokur Camp Design Team, Greg, Stefanie, and John Simpson made the twenty four-hour trip to Beijing, China in early December.
The Chinese Mountaineering Association, a government operated group responsible for climbing and summer camps, served as lead coordinator for the workshops in conjunction with sponsors for each workshop location. The first workshop took place in Northern China about an hour and a half north of Beijing in a valley filled with chestnut trees on the Huaisha River. The second workshop took place in Southern China two hours east of Guangzhou on a self-sustaining farm that raised a myriad of fruits and vegetables as well as fish, chickens, and ducks.
Over the course of three days, Domokur provided eight workshops at each location. Day one outlined the Master Planning Process and culminated with an activity where attendees were able to try their hand at Master Planning by arranging 3-D printed structures on conceptual camp maps. On day two, the team focused on intentional design as the backbone for world class camps by exploring great building, amenity, and landscape design as well as industry trends. Day three centered on “greening camps”, how camps are integrating sustainability beyond buildings, but throughout their camp operations, educational outreach and programming.
Each workshop had about 45 participants who attended presentations during the day and interactive camp programs led by aeCamps in the evening. The final evening program ended with everyone gathered around a camp fire, singing songs over the soft strum of a ukulele. Attendees received participation certificates from the Chinese Mountaineering Association and custom patches provided by aeCamps for completing the workshops.
The trip lasted eleven days: six workshop days, three travel days, and two days to rest. The team did not spend much of the two days resting. They used the time to hike part of the Great Wall of China, explore Guangzhou, tour the Chen Clan Academy, and visit the Guangxiao Temple. Similar to summer Camp, routine meal times became memorable highlights filled with unique teaching opportunities. Around the table, the team learned about Chinese cuisine, culture, language, history, and customs like the traditional tea ceremony.
Together with aeCamps and the Chinese Mountaineering Association, future opportunities may include: translating Greg’s Master Planning book into Chinese, providing Master Plan design services, and conducting additional workshops in China.
Domokur Architects takes great pride in having had the opportunity to shape the camp experience for future generations of Chinese youth.