Clubs come in all shapes and sizes in order to fit the unique needs of students. They allow young people to expand, nurture, and develop leadership skills or other talents that might be neglected in their normal curriculum. Whether it be athletic, academic, or creative, these clubs offer students the perfect opportunities to connect with others who have the same interests and do so in an atmosphere that is very focused and passion driven.
Here are some examples of a couple clubs that are available to students from any school, along with some valuable insight about these clubs from active members. In our process of seeking out these clubs, we also learned about a couple of instances of students building their own groups focused on either a particular interest or a service to the community that wasn’t yet being offered through their school. They explain a bit of the process to help those wanting to get the ball rolling at their own school.
We hope you find this to be a helpful primer for learning about some of the great afterschool activities this city has to offer, and it encourages you to try something new.
Imagine is a British organization based in Beijing, offering a variety of action and adventure-based activities year-round, all in English. They are also well known amongst the international and bilingual schools community for survival camps, parkour training, ski trips, school trips, team-building outings, sailing camps, and the annual school snowsports championships known as ISSCC.
Imagine is a unique organization providing kids with a great opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor activities. Give us a brief introduction of some of the activities you have done with Imagine.
So far, we have loved participating in their water camps, parkour training, survival classes, ski camps, and bubble football.
What first inspired you to get involved in the range of extreme sports offered through Imagine?
I guess it would be how fun all of the activities are, such as their Civilization Games. All of these activities were pretty new to me. I learned lots of new games and was able to try many new sports that weren’t being offered at school.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had with Imagine?
Last winter, I won three gold medals at International Schools Snowsports Championships of China (ISSCC) ski race in the Giant Slalom, Dual Slalom, and Freestyle categories. Plus, this past summer I went to the Water Camp hosted by Imagine and loved jumping from the boat.
Tell us about some of the most important skills you’ve learned through your participation.
From their parkour classes I learned how to do a front flip, and in their fun ski classes, I’ve learned lots of new freestyle tricks. Most importantly I’ve also enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to collaborate with and get to know other kids.
Do you have any advice for newcomers to Imagine?
Be brave at the beginning and you’ll find plenty of excitement with the coaches’ help. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new friends with similar interests in the sports being offered.
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Founded in 1999, Sports Beijing is an organization that connects students and parents with a variety of interesting athletic opportunities for all skill levels and age groups. They seek to retain the essential spirit of community and volunteerism in their recreational programs where there is an emphasis on participation, fun, and learning the basic skills. But they also recognize the appetite amongst young athletes for higher-level training and competition with qualified professionals and ‘match play’ teams across many programs.
How long have you been playing hockey?
13-years. I love it! My dad works for a hockey brand called Bauer. Since the Olympics are coming to Beijing, it has been his job to help people gear up. Also, the government has been building up hockey facilities and encouraging people to give it a try.
What is Sports Beijing doing to help build this interest in hockey?
We cooperate with Sports Beijing because they have this really developed base of people already interested in sports. If we tried to start a hockey class on our own, it might be hard to get students. But since they have this huge community of people, it has been helpful in getting kids out to try our class.
What’s the class you offer through Sports Beijing like?
All of the kids starting off can’t skate or have likely never played hockey before, and we help them build confidence, and start them off with a lot of beginner-friendly scrimmages. Usually, a standard class will be about an hour long of teaching the basics of hockey, then we will have a scrimmage game for about 15 minutes to encourage the kids. Usually, kids come in for about one or two semesters to learn the basics then we send them off to a more competitive club. Hockey gets pretty intense, so our program is just to help kids to have fun with the sport.
What are some of the positive changes you’ve seen in the kids taking your hockey class?
It’s really cool to see the kids come in being very shy at the beginning of the semester, and then by the end, they open up and learn about teamwork and sharing, which are both very important in hockey.
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As one of Europe’s largest dance studios, Sunshine Dance offers dance classes for beginners and advanced students alike. The primary instructor here in Beijing is Jerry Tse. Having trained all over the world, including London, Hong Kong, and LA, with some of the industry’s top choreographers, he has gone on to become a choreographer and teacher himself. He’s worked with many big stars, and TV shows, and now spends most of his time flying around the world teaching courses and masterclasses sharing the knowledge he has gained in the industry.
What is Sunshine Studios?
Sunshine Studios is a big, international dance company that was founded in Beijing by Jerry Tse. For me, I like how it is international with branches across China and the UK. We practice twice a week, mainly in the style of street dance and hip-hop mixed together. It’s really cool!
How has this experience helped you to develop your love for dancing?
Dancing with Jerry is so different from what I’ve experienced with any of the dance teachers I’ve had before. He’s so passionate about it, and he inspires me because of his attention to detail. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s crazy good at dancing. I think with him teaching me, it has made me love dancing even more.
Do you ever get to choreograph or create dance routines of your own?
First, for the basic stuff, Jerry choreographs it for us, but we are able to add our input for what we think would be cool and he helps us to connect our imaginations with his to make it happen.
What is the typical practice like?
We get into class, and we first have a short workout comprised of sit-ups, pushups, and planking. Then we do some stretching and start dancing. Sundays are typically our longer classes, so we do the workouts and stretching, then we do some warmups and leg exercises. You need to be fit for dancing.
What would you like newcomers to know about Sunshine Studios?
The class community is super tight. Everybody is friends, and it doesn’t matter what age or level you’re at. We all support each other and want to grow together. It’s a safe space, where you don’t need to feel like you are good or bad at this, and everybody is learning together.
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Photo: Courtesy of Imagine and Sports Beijing
A complete version of this article appeared on p44-48 of the beijingkids September 2018 Teen Takeover issue.