SUSS OBS Team-Building Camp

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.

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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 😛

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Love, Amelia

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.

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “SUSS OBS Team-Building Camp

  1. Hi Amelia!

    I am enrolling in SUSS for this year’s FT July intake and one thing I am super worried about is the OBS camp. I’m physically unfit and think will have a hard time there. I can’t swim and have a phobia of ocean so I’m worried about the rowboat activity 😦 Also I am concerned about the toilet.. may I ask do we really have to pee in the forest for 3 days? How about bathing do we get to bathe or shower? Do we sleep in tents or proper bunks? Are we allowed to use our phones?

    Your help will mean so much to me to lessen my anxiety!!

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello WorriedPotato (cute name hehe)! First of all, let me just be clear – I’m not sure if it’s going to be the same this year but from my experience last year, the first day was just full of talks. We didn’t do any physically taxing activities (aside from brief ice-breaker/ round robin type of activities). On the first night, we got to bathe at proper toilets because we were at the main campsite which has all the amenities (bunks, etc). You’ll get to bathe at toilets too on the third day.

      The expedition was on the second day – for this, we were assigned the activity (either trekking, kaya king or rowboating). So there’s a chance you might not have to do the water activities. Don’t worry about not being able to swim because you’ll be wearing life vest! But I acknowledge your fear – I am also afraid of the sea. Once, I cried during a 1 star kayaking course because we had to do a capsize drill in the middle of the sea. That was how scared I was!! But I managed to overcome my fear both times (the kayak course and the expedition). I may not understand your fear completely, but I do know that it is not impossible to overcome it. You WILL be able to do it, trust me, and you’ll be surprised at how capable you are!

      The expedition will last around half a day. I began rowboating at about 10 or 11 and reached the campsite at about 6pm if I remember correctly (about 7 hours). I’m not going to lie and tell you it was easy because it wasn’t. But it’s certainly doable. When I was there, halfway through the journey I really felt like crying – I really did not want to do it anymore. I was so, so tired. But I couldn’t let my teammates do all the work. We eventually took turns to row so that helped a lot. It will be exhausting, that’s for certain, but you just have to press on. Truly. I’m not sure how else to advice you on this.

      The expedition will lead you to another campsite where there are no toilets. So, good news for you, you won’t have to pee in the forest for three days! Just on the second half of day 2 and the morning of day 3 if you need to pee/poop. You will set off for the main campsite early in the morning on day 3 (the distance will be much lesser). We couldn’t bathe so we used lots of tissues and powders and deodorants to make us smell better. It was not pleasant for me (especially because we were soaked in seawater) but it was quite an experience. And yes, we slept in tents on the second day.

      We were allowed to use our phones on the first and third day (at the main campsite). They weren’t very strict about it, but of course we only used it when it was appropriate. On the second day before the expedition, however, some of us left our phones behind (instructors kept it for us) because there isn’t reception at the forested area anyway.

      Nervousness/ anxiety is understandable! I was anxious all the time during the camp. But I hope you’ll
      be able to find meaning in it. That’s the only way you get to enjoy the camp – and you’re going to be there for 3 days so might as well make good use of your time! I also learnt more about myself during the camp – like how I do actually enjoy rowboating and would do it again even though I’m scared of water. This will sound super deep but you will come out a better person after doing things you wouldn’t usually do.

      I really do hope you’ll enjoy the camp as much as I did! And if you have any more questions or if you just want to talk, just drop me a message 🙂

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  2. Thank you so much for your reply Amelia!! Now it sounds like it will be doable for someone like me too! May I ask was food provided on all 3 days? How’s the food like? Were there any rest stops for the rowboating or just non-stop rowing till the finish point? Oh oh and also what should I do if I’m having my period on expedition day? I’m worried about the hygiene more than the activity if this happens 😦

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    1. Food is provided for all 3 days! For the first day while at the main campsite, the food provided was buffet-style (like at malay weddings/ school events etc) and it tasted pretty good to me 😋

      For the expedition, we get to bring rations (to eat during the journey, for dinner and breakfast the next day). There were a lot so we had to be clever when deciding what to bring because we couldn’t bring all as it was too heavy (there were biscuits, bread, instant noodles, canned food, etc). For dinner, we cooked at the beach using the equipment/tools they provided us with.

      If I remember correctly, on the third day we also ate buffet food. But yeah, you shouldn’t worry about food because you will be well fed!!

      For the rowboating, it’s up to the teams to decide when to have rest stops. The instructors won’t follow you (but will check up on you from time to time). You can have as many or as few rest stops but you will need to complete the expedition within the stipulated timing (i.e. 7 hours, though that’s only estimate).

      If you’re having period, unfortunately, you will still have to take part in the expedition. So it’s all on you to decide how much tissues (or wet wipes), plastic, undergarments, etc to bring. It will be uncomfortable, but all you can do is bear with it. ):

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  3. That’s great to hear!! Looking forward to the food at least haha. For the tents do we pitch ourselves or the instructors will do it with us? How many people will sleep together and only the same genders sleep together right?? Around what time did they release you on the 3rd day? Did they mention about wet weather activities or it’s the same regardless of weather condition?

    Haha I have so many questions so sorry!

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  4. Yep, you’ll have to pitch your own tents as a team and only same gender is correct. The number is up to your team to decide. I think they released us around 5. They didn’t mention about wet weather but I’m sure it’ll be handled well!

    No worries 🙂

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