The camp is finally over. Done and dusted.
I wasn’t very excited for it, nor was I reluctant. The only thing that made me slightly apprehensive was the fact that I had to be around new people (and something else, which I’m not courageous enough to share). When my group first met during the induction, we were extremely awkward. None of us are exceptionally loud or extroverted, so there wasn’t a member who managed to hype up the group. Our student buddy wasn’t very loud either and slightly awkward too (not that it was a problem because I’m sure he did his best).
On hindsight, however, I think I’m quite lucky because firstly, I’m introverted and I cannot handle extremely loud people. Secondly, although as individuals none of us exactly stood out, as a team, I think we’re pretty impressive because we complemented each other with our individual strengths.
It was a 3 day 2 night camp, with the first day mostly comprising of talks and team-building activities. The service learning talk which I initially dreaded turned out to be pretty interesting. The content suited my interests and I learned quite a bit too. I even braved myself to speak up! Undoubtedly, it’s easier because it’s a small team, but it was still something that required some mustering of courage. I realise, though, that whenever I speak in front of a crowd (small or large), my voice and perhaps face and/or hands (if I’m holding something) giveaway my nervousness. My voice tend to tremble and with all eyes on me, my face will flush. It’s a physiological response I have no control over 😦
For the day 2 expedition, 3 groups, including mine, were assigned rowboat. The whole journey from our campsite (Pulau Ubin OBS Camp 1) to a forested area (where Kekek Quarry is) roughly 15 kilometers away took about 6-7 hours. As someone who works out and is able to do pushups, I shamelessly thought that it wouldn’t be too difficult for me. I was so ready to deal with it head on because I am a strong, independent woman (not a braggart – I am just proud of being strong!!). But, boy, was I wrong. The journey was gruelling. Truly. The paddle is heavy, the tide was against us (for the first ~10km), and the weather was BLOODY BRUTAL. We felt the strenuousness even when we barely started! But, we pushed on and persevered and it felt excellent. Then, the blazing sun emerged and fatigue crept up on us, and somewhere after the halfway mark, I desperately felt like giving up. I was close to crying because I was so, extremely exhausted. My arms were aching, my back hurt and it became difficult to keep up with the pace of paddling. There were several stronger boats ahead of us (we were initially the first few boats) and we were lagging but I no longer cared about being last (not that I cared about being the first few, but being last can be pressurizing). I stopped paddling several times when the rest of my team members continued and I began wishing that the 15 kilometers was a joke the instructors played on us because at that point, it genuinely felt like an impossible task. But when I saw my team members soldiering on (especially my new friends, Faiz, Nadine and Jun Wei) AND keep up with the chanting (to ensure we were synchronizing), I realised that I can’t be the only one exhausted. They must be too – of course, because we were going through the same thing. This might sound really deep but it was their determination and tenacity that truly motivated me to go on because we were in it together and I didn’t want to let them down.
In the end, we made it and it could not be more fitting that the night before, our professor shared with us this quote:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Yes, I was listening quite attentively to his long-ass life story (even with my eyes closed) and thoroughly enjoyed it despite it being rather untimely because it was pretty darn inspiring. There were several good quotes shared but this quote moved me the most.
Needless to say, the expedition and night spent at the forested, no-toilet area was the highlight of the whole camp because those activities are the ones that truly tested our determination and assessed our group’s ability to work together. After all, I think we would all agree that we learn more from our tough times than good times. The talking/ bonding session my group had that night was also a highlight for me because as someone who has trouble opening up to new people, I genuinely felt comfort and joy in their presence.
Another highlight for me was the bonding session we had with our second instructor (our first instructor left early on day 3 because his engagement was on that day). Our group wrote comforting messages for each other, shared our favourite moment during the camp and our takeaway, and wrote a letter to ourselves. The latter 2 had to be returned to him, and will make their way back to us one day via mail, when we least expect it. Like a time capsule. Interesting, huh?
Alas, though I enjoyed the camp for the most part, I disliked the fact that we had to pee in the nature without proper toilet facilities. I can be outdoorsy and adventurous if I have to, but the whole peeing in the forest thing is not my thing at all, sorry. 😦 I also wish we were given the opportunity to spend more time with our OBS instructors and student buddy because we were barely able to do that properly. And the last event (superhero/mascot thing) was pretty lame and rushed. But okay, whatever, I guess.
I never thought I’d say this and I don’t care if it’s cliché because I really will miss the time I spent with my group members during the camp and nothing would be more apt than ending off this post by sharing a few good photos of my new friends.
Lastly, here is a beautiful view of the morning we set off for our campsite on day 3. Taken by our resident photographer, Jun Wei 😛
Ps I’m sorry friends I got mad on day 3!! I am extremely expressive. It shows when I’m happy, excited, sad, scared, nervous so when I’m angry, it will most definitely show too… I musn’t use it as an excuse, though, I know.