Thursday, December 22, 2005

Camp Temasek IV – gunGbound, 1st to 5th December 2005

Inspired from a popular online game which has found substantial favor amongst our younger generation of youths, this year’s Camp Temasek IV was hence named gunGbound – however, with a slight twist to the well-known game, in order to remain relevant to us, yet being distinctive.

The dominating, but somewhat intrusive and unappealing capital letter ‘G’ which catches our curiosity upon first glance, underlies the purpose and objective of this five days four nights BB camp. ‘G’ is to represent the venturous gung-ho spirit which the organizing committee aims to instill in the campers, to embrace the entrepreneurial skills which would be cultivated through participating in activities, but most importantly, above all, to recognize and magnify God’s name in a very meaningful and personal way.

Camp Temasek – a grand, large-scale and massive camp which gathers BB Boys’ from various companies, both locally and internationally, also warmly invited other guests, such as the Girl Guides, BB Thailand and Malaysia and NCC cadets.

As the response was overwhelming, with a total of around 600 campers (excluding officers and committee) enthusiastically participating, organization was a daunting task which the organizers had to deal with. This propelled the creation of six guilds, namely Crusaders, Judges, Knights, Paladins, Priests and Missionaries, to divide equally the huge population into smaller, more manageable groups. I was assigned to the Paladins. In charge of the whole camp, as usual, is the camp commandant. In charge of us was Edward Tan, our approachable guild master (GM). Supporting the GM is the assistant guild master (AGM), who would assume the role of the GM in his absence. Primers were also selected to handle each guild. Every guild was further split into ten societies, with a senior boy leading the group as the society leader (SL). Lastly, another senior boy would take charge of the whole guild, referred to as the guild sergeant major (GSM). Wow, it seems that bureaucracy can also noticeably present in a mammoth event. I thought that this was, to a certain extent, something resembling a microcosm of our government.

The publication of a daily newsletter entitled ‘The Guild Times’ further affirms this notion of different levels of authority, positions and roles in this camp that is held once every five years. Supposedly the camp newspaper, the A4 sized 4 paged double-sided document reported memorable events that happened the day before.

The campsite had to have enough resources and space to accommodate everyone comfortably, so the spanking new Kranji Logistics Camp housed us. Bunks took the form of a long, spartan, whitewashed room, clad with four single beds and four rather spacious beige steel cabinets to store our belongings, all arranged in a simple, convenient and accessible layout.

The first and the last day were mainly allocated for administrative matters and the opening and closing ceremony respectively. As some lamented that it a waste of time, the organizers and guild masters had to explain that the ceremonies were necessary to commence and end such a big camp. Indeed, the opening ceremony started the camp on a high note. As we stood smartly decked in our full-uniform in neat rows, the guest-of-honour, BB president and organizing chairman gave their short welcoming speeches.

Everyday after breakfast, we had devotion as a guild, where we would study God’s word and discuss on certain issues. It was a useful time of interaction, reflection and discovering the Bible.

On the first day, we played some ice breaker games to get familiar with the guilds. They were all simple, rather unexciting (or at least in my opinion) games which put our teamwork, co-ordination and communication skills to the test. Indisputably, the ‘bombing’ game was the best loved game, partly because it tested the guild’s reflex and attention skills, and maybe because it also provided the perfect opportunity to jokingly ‘laugh’ at a guild when they lost.

The activities, all named after popular television programmes and computer games, mainly consisted of sports. At the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, we engaged in a ten-station race somewhat akin to ‘The Amazing Race’. This saw us ebulliently trekking through the park despite the occasional mud and pungent smells, while completing tasks like IQ mind games and puzzles.

The sports dubbed ‘Spongebob Square Pants’ turned out to be kayaking, dragon boating and rafting at the Chinese Gardens. The unstable, mini dragon boat tested our confidence, rafting taught us teamwork and innovation, and kayaking was simply a uniquely memorable exposure in the water.

Coined ‘War of the Worlds’, paintball was an early introduction to shooting, or at least, for the majority of us. I approached this game with a little apprehension and caution, and upon ending, I decided that this was a dangerously surreal game not suited to me. A ‘paint bomb’ brushed my kneecap, leaving me crouching for a moment as intense pain suddenly hit me. The idea of the game is to grab the other team’s flag after successfully pinning down three water bottles. Supposedly the bombs, these lethal weapons shelled blue paint which would explode upon contact leaving one disgustingly soaked in an unpleasant liquid, which is normally associated with art and not shooting. The more unfortunate ones had their otherwise clean track pants dyed in a patch of unsightly blue, or exited the range with unwanted surface bruises on elbows. Nevertheless, it was a good experience.

Also at the NCC Amoy Quee Camp, we daringly climbed a simple rock wall, took on the relatively easy Motivational Obstacle Course (MOC) and did some grueling rope stations.

We also got the opportunity to play a new game called AZ ball. A clever mixture of badminton and tennis, this simple yet challenging game consisted of a racket and a surprisingly soft, bouncy ball.

Many of us tried a sport that required more skill than stamina too. It was golf. As the bulk of us had never played it before, we had to start right from the basics. The Thais were naturally inclined to Golf to my utmost surprise, and they dazzled us with their unbelievably accurate shots. To the rest, it was just a fun time of hitting a white sphere no bigger than a tennis ball.

Archery – an activity which requires remarkable levels of attention and aiming was a first, again, to many of us. Some were good at it, some shot the arrow way off the target, but it was a pleasant experience despite the scorching sun relentlessly blazing down on us.

A much loved sport, inline skating was held at the spacious car park. Amidst the huge, dark green army trucks, we navigated our way around, having fun rolling on wheels. However, there were a significant number of campers (like me) who did not know how to skate. We earnestly learnt and picked up quickly, and I realized that it did not look as easy as it seemed.

On the second day, after dinner, we all gathered for a wonderful time of concert and performance. Each guild had to prepare an original short skit in accordance with the theme of drug abuse and present it to all the campers. I was amazed by the immense amounts of effort put into each guild’s performance, the fantastic acting by some potential actors, the creativity and the occasionally lame but much appreciated jokes. This event unmistakably imparted the message encouraging youths to stay away from drugs. We all had a thoroughly enjoyable time as audiences. Without a doubt, this was one truly memorable event.

Held on the third day was the BB’s 75th anniversary birthday bash and campfire. It was, again, a fantastically amazing time of celebration and worship. A big stage was erected at the parade square and a band was invited to play some really cool music for us. Of all things, we learnt how to dance too. Yes, that meant some really groovy moves. But for me, the most meaningful time was worship, where we could sing praises to the Lord and encounter His presence in a very personal way.

Free market was held on the fourth day, where we sold items to other guilds to compete for the most coupons. This tested our entrepreneurship skills as we frantically shouted advertising our products, services and tit-bits. Water bombs also contributed to the bulk of the fun, where willing officers were, to their dismay, transformed into targets of mass attack, drenched completely from head to toe by hurling bombs from the euphoric campers. Fun it sure was, but, to me, that was also a little sadistic.

Summing it up in a nutshell, Camp Temasek was the perfect opportunity to cultivate teamwork, build new relationships with friends and be exposed to vast types of sports. It was, ultimately, a great collaboration between BB officers from many companies where unimaginable amounts of effort was put in, and an unforgettable time for us campers.

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