Tiger Moms and Summer Camp Kids


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My Mom

Each day, there is a second that we can use or waste. Especially during childhood when children are going through their formative years, parents must be there to instill good habits and traditions that are meant to last through to adulthood. After giving up working life to raise my brother and I, my mother became a “Tiger Mom”. A “Tiger Mom” is one of the most loving, yet competitive mothers around. Her children have to be the best children, which meant tireless coordination, carpooling and time management. Like the author of the book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, my mom also saw “childhood as a training period, a time to build character and invest for the future”. A moment was not to be wasted.

Overachieving Parents across the World

My mom was not the first mom to think that she could rear a child to become the very best child. Parents across the world have higher and higher expectations of their children’s capabilities. The Gaokao, China’s grueling college entrance exam is taken by 9.4 million students each year (NY Times, 2016). Yutian Chen, ASU international student from China said, “No parent in China wants their child to fail that exam. The students that do not pass are not able to be admitted to a college, and will be unable to be employed by higher paying jobs and will be a disgrace to their family”. Most of Asia has a similar entrance exam.

In India, students will take as much as 22 board or college entrance exams before they enter college. Parents try to prepare their students to be successful. “We have to keep them under pressure,” said one mother, Jaya Samaddar, whose daughter is studying for the Indian national exams administered in the 10th grade. “We have no other choice”. (NY Times, 2010)

The Idea of Changing a Child into Something They Aren’t

Each year, parents apply more and more stress, anxiety and pressure to attempt to change their students to become the next Jack Ma, Warren Buffet, or Bill Gates. But what if the student just doesn’t have the capacity to think like a CEO? What if they don’t have the hands to become the most successful neurosurgeon in the world? And even if they are capable, what if the student absolutely hates what they are doing?

asian-stressedDespite all of the stress, most students do not know who they are, and do not know where they are going. The New York Times quoted, “At Penn State, 80 percent of freshmen — even those who have declared a major — say they are uncertain about their major, and half will change their minds after they declare, sometimes more than once” (NY Times, 2012). This uncertainty is manifested in other forms as well.

One of the most common ailments for students is depression. Students, confused about who they are and what they are doing, do not understand their place in the world. If they cannot be in the top 10% of their class, pass a test, or are doing more than a certain number of other students, they feel disheartened and like a failure. This has also led to a high rate of suicide among college students (NCHA, 2015). In Asia, some students who do not pass the college entrance exam have been so ashamed that they take their own lives.

The Real Issue

The principle that we forget is that every person is unique. No two people can be at the same place at the same time. Looking at people and even twins, there are different perspectives on life, and thus there will be different outcomes, despite having the same type of genetic makeup. Every individual’s experiences will be different than any other person’s experiences. Knowing this information, we can understand that no person’s path to success is going to be the same.

Some of the most successful businessmen in the world were great students and Brainiacs. However, the overlooked fact is there are many successful executives in the world that were terrible students including many U.S. presidents, Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller and Bill Gates (Inc.com, 2016). Grades, GPAs and standardized test scores measure the ability to answer questions and repeat it. Google’s VP of People Operations states, “From data crunching, we see G.P.A.’s and test scores are worthless as a criteria for hiring.” (Daily Caller, 2016).

The Technical Format of Most Summer Programs

Summer programs have a week to teach participants as much as they can. The “Tiger Mothers” of today are considering summer programs to get their students ahead on their college applications. The summer camps traditionally make sure to pack in as many details as possible. I attended 4 to 7 summer camps every year from 1st grade to 12th grade. Some of the camps that I attended as a child were space camp, engineering and robotics camp, computer programming camp, archaeology camp, and ACT/SAT camps. Each camp that I attended, I’d learn and cram in the details of each profession/skillset for one week. A month after the camp, I would forget everything I learned. The idea behind this traditional summer camp is the belief that by teaching students the details of a profession, they would be successful.

The High Level Format of LSA

The Leadership Society of Arizona (LSA) is a program that is based on an industry logic. It has been tested over 1900 times, delivering $6.8B of services with a 98% customer satisfaction rating over the last 23 years. This logic is broken down and simplified to teach students and professionals alike how to understand who they are. In the format of a summer camp, after-school programs and semester long programs, LSA has found staggering results (See http://old.leadaz.org/about/). LSA has found that as students understand who they are, they are more productive, less stressed and more successful.

Case Study at Mountain Pointe High School

LSA ran a pilot summer camp hosted at Mountain Pointe High School in July 2016. The 25 students came from across Maricopa county. When taking a straw poll at the beginning of the class, LSA discovered more than 75% of the students were forced or signed up to attend by their parents. Some dedicated parents drove their students two hours to attend the program and two hours to get back home. Despite the poor reception initially, by day 2, students began to open up to discussions about themselves. LSA brought in college counselors to talk about different non-college options that were available. The results were astounding:


Student FeedbackMetrics Parent FeedbackMetrics
 Number of Students25Number of Parents26
 Overall Program Rating9.3 / 10Overall Program Rating9.8 / 10
“This program will help me in school”98%“I witnessed positive changes in my child throughout the week”88%
“I feel less stressed”71%
“I feel more confident about my future”62%
“I now believe that I control my life”62%“I would like to sign my child up for more LSA Courses”92%
“I would like to take more LSA courses”100%

“[My son] had a phenomenal learning experience. We could see a real change in his attitude, confidence and how he conducts himself.” – Parent of HS Senior

“[The program] was helpful. I went in as a punishment, but I am glad I came.” –  HS Junior

By helping students to understand who they are and their value, students will better understand life and their future. Subscribe to our email newsletter for more information.

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