Friday, September 24, 2010

EA: Camp!!

Camp was amazing! Wow!! It was a real kickstart to our journey on Expedition Agape 2010.

Camp officially started at 8p.m. on Friday the 17th of Sept. David Lee checked in first and held the fort for us.

Shufen was next to arrive after me - so glad to see her again xx!! Serene and Calvin, and Thomas with his car loaded full of Things-To-Bring, arrived next.

Then the youths, who had been piling up at the HarbourFront MRT waiting for each other, came in a big bunch - Xiao Yang, Azhari, Razanoor and Donovan.

Wendy came along with Bellah and Nina - the cousins!

Phi Fern hopped in, and had a miniature crisis of sorts when she couldn't find her wallet! She dashed out again in obliging Thomas' car and Shufen tagged along so she could get her laptop from the office to complete more work for Expedition Agape (the team is seriously hardworking, wei! Camp also we still work!)

Farhan and Nuraini were the last two youths we waited for - and kudos to Nuraini, she came even though she was still ill with the flu, sniffling and with a slight temperature.

David showed us the rest of the humongous Labrador Adventure Campsite... the canteen had to be seen to be believed! We loved the bunk rooms - clean and spacious. The boys eyed the basketball court immediately!

Our last pitstop was the huge hall upstairs where we started with icebreakers. First we had to memorise each others' names (of course!) and then we played a game where we were divided into two groups for Russian cum Singaporean roulette. We span round in circles, and when David tapped anyone on the soulder, the two persons he tapped had to quickly turn and shout out one's name before the other.

My group was so gung-ho mahnz... we were down to the very last chance....and we pulled back the game and WON!!! Mua-ha-ah-ahahaha-ha!!! *pats self on back and the whole group too!*

Then we sat on the ground and talked about what made a successful team - what were the positive attributes. Cards were distributed and we were asked to choose three attributes in ourselves that we felt were our contribution to a team. When we'd finished, David, asked us to find 1) 2/3 others 2) with different genders (yeah, there are only two genders.. fine!!) and 3) with different attributes from yours.

Everyone scrambled to find people with differing attributes on their cards, and by the time the dust settled... four new groups were born - Happy, E.A., Same-Same-But-Different, and Bandito!!

In my group was Farhan, Zhan Yang, Phi Fern and myself and of course, this was one of the best groups ever... *koff koff*....

Err... so moving on. We set our Vision - the reasons why we were in Expedition Agape. And we wrote our Brick Walls - the things that stopped us from achieving our vision.

And we decided on our Agreements - the things we promised to do and not do during our Expedition Agape journey. David set our Punishment too - 10 squats/ pushups/ or situps with an additional 10 more for every 'failure'. Zhan Yang suggested an extra punishment - expulsion after the third failure! Thomas, our soft-hearted team-mie, came up with another suggestion - if any member failed, ALL of us in the whole EA team would do the punishments!

And then it was beddy-bed time.... much to our delight, the campsite even provided free 3-in-1 coffees, teas and milos, so everyone had a good snack before hitting the sack.

And to the BOYS' delight, Thomas' friends came to surprise him with a birthday cake and a huge box of doughnuts for everyone to share! It took quite a while to herd them up to bed after that...

The next morning, bright and early, we had... YOGA! Courtesy of master of ceremonies of CampVision - Paul Goh! I think my fave part was at the very end when we got to lie on our backs and relax every single muscle.... *snoooooorrreeeeee*. It was also cool to see the youths take the initiative to do the counting for each exercise, and hilarious to see how some of the youths dashed through the counting when they couldn't hold the position anymore! Paul gave plenty of positive affirmations and feedback, which set the tone for the rest of the glorious day...

Breakfast first, of course! Bread and buns and jam. I think we had the generous allowance of half an hour for breakkie *grin*.

David drew the lessons for the day on three principles:-

1) Be proactive, not reactive
2) Begin with the end in mind
3) Put 1st things 1st

David started us of by giving us little round coloured mats and telling us, "The game starts.... NOW"

Total silence. We stared at him, he grinned back at us. Cool. Err.... Calvin finally expressed what we were all thinking, "How to play the game?!"

David called him to the front and whispered in his ear for some minutes. Calvin nodded, nodded and then, "OKay everyone, THIS is how we play this game!" We had to step on our little round coloured mats and together, figure out how to flip our mats over whilst still standing on them.

Bandito finished first, followed by SSBD... last was Happy, who laughed a lot, so yeap, they totally lived up to their name!

David then debriefed us - what had we thought when he told us to start the game without giving us any instructions? Why had none of us, except Calvin, asked him how to play the game? Are we proactive, or reactive?

We discussed the difference between the two and how we ourselves were in our daily lives. We then talked within our group about the different areas where we were more reactive than proactive and came up with ideas of how we can be more proactive in those areas.

David set us on this rad game called Move Turn Change Rotate and Crash... In little choo-choo train lines of four, we had to move (go forward) change (everyone in your train turns to the back) rotate (the last person from the back comes to the front to lead the train) and crash (everyone jumps in the air and rushes to make a new train!).

We trotted around the hall going choo-choo (David's rule of the game- must make train sound!) and running faster and faster and faster as the game sped on until... end of the game! There were THREE trains of FIVE people, and one lost soul. Guess who was the lost soul? =.=

Snack break and then down to the low rope course where David instructed us through Bellah, who gamely stepped up to the challenge, how to play the next game. We were to cross the rope course group by group ie. the whole group grappling the ropes like monkeys, and the rest of the groups would stand in front and behind the group to support them.

A few false whilst we worked out what we were supposed to do, and Happy was on their way! They did real well for the first rope, and were mid-way through their second rope when they tried an aerial 180 degree turn (I swear that's what it seemed like!) and fell heavily on their tooshies! Err... yeah, the rest of us supporters were supposed to catch them, but I think we were just too fascinated with their complicated turn to remember!

They gamely went on again and got through right to the end! *applause! applause!* Group after group went on after them and got through really well since we'd all learnt from the pioneering first group. And special kudos to Bellah who did an awesome job of instructing - animated and clear!

David then led us to the middle quadrangle - our supposedly fire drill spot (did anyone catch the fact that the fire drill which we were supposed to conduct, somehow....never mind!) There was a 'world map' mural painted in the middle of the quadrangle. Zhan Yang and Phi Fern volunteered to be the Game Masters for this game. Cones and mats were set in the middle of the world map. Zhan Yang and Phi Fern would direct us through the world map whilst we were blindfolded.

We sorted ourselves into two groups. Zhan Yang, who was leading my group, agreed a 'secret code' with us - if he said "L L L" that meant we were winning, if he said "W W W" that meant we were losing!

And ... start! Step step step... darn! I knocked a cone. Walk three paces back. Step step step... and Zhan Yang started yelling, "L L L! L L L!" Well, we continued walking, whilst he shouted instructions with intermittent, "L L L"s and... crossed the finishing line first! Wheeeeeeee!

We watched whilst Phi Fern's group continued the game. After a little bit, David empowered Zhan Yang by giving him the chance to lead Phi Fern's group and they zoomed through to the finishing line.

No doubt about it, Zhan Yang really proved his mettle as a leader in this game. We acknowledged and affirmed his leadership and clear directions, and then turned to Phi Fern to debrief.

And... mini crisis. The toll of the game was pretty heavy by then, I think. What really touched me though is that, not just the volunteer ladies rallied around to give Phi Fern big hugs and listen to her, but the youths - Bellah and Nina and Nuraini - also came round to be with her and comfort her. It was such an awesome 'moment'.

And Zhan Yang gave his best comfort too! "Ok, first joke... A man and his gorilla went hunting through the woods..." Groooaannnnn!!! Guys! But it was so sweet of him lah!

After a while we all dried our tears (and Phi Fern, can I just say to you a big THANK YOU for being so real... you restored my self-respect because otherwise... I would have been the only doob who cried at camp!) and went on to the spider-web.

David explained that from that moment on, there was to be no sound from any of us. We had to get the team through the spider web without talking, with no discussion, no arrangements, no nothing. And... no 'hole' in the web could be used twice.

Sounds easy right? Done before right? Okay, here's the problem - the spider web was meant for primary school sized kids =.= Hoo boy. But the youths rose to the occassion, Farhan especially shining in this activity as he directed (with much finger pointing and some really vivid expressions) how we were to get each other through the web. I also must acknowledge Azhari for trying and trying again - it was not easy for him and it was a riot to see everyone directing him how to go through with the most frantic gestures and eyeball-popping facial expressions.

The last one to come thru was Zhan Yang who was left alone on the other side with very few holes to choose from and about 45 seconds left to go! He poked through one, and he poked through another one, and he ... finally got through JUST in the nick of time! We all cheered!!!

Debrief was seriously funny after that because, after so long of not talking, everyone forgot they could go ahead and talk again!

But lunch was arriving and everyone was famished, so we dashed off to 'everyone, wash your hands' instructions from Serene.

After lunch, we went back up to the hall, but moved to the back which was much cooler. David came up with these curious klonky plastic tubes... we knocked them on the ground, and instead of going 'plack' like you'd expect from a plastic tube, a clear 'plonk' sound rang out. Of course nobody could resist whacking them on the floor then, so there was a perfect cacophony of plink plonk plunk going on in the room!

After we'd had a chance to try out the tubes, David explained that each was a musical note. Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Doh! He got us to play a rhythm according to our musical notes, and a melody rang out! Nina then organized into groups and got us to play the musical scale. She kept us going at it too, until we got it right! Thomas kept getting it WRONG, so finally, penalty! He had to dance in the centre whilst we played the 'music' for him to dance his tribal dance to!

Then we tried rolling two balls around in a group the fastest way we could. Here the youths proved ingenious as they directed us on how we could best get the balls around passing through everyone's hands.

Readers, guess what - we achieved doing this in ONE second, with a group of 16 people. I dare you to break our record! Mua-hahahahaha!

Then we took time out to talk about our goals in life - what did we want to achieve and do during Expedition Agape? What were our goals in these six months? Out came the faithful cards, and we drew pictures and shared about what we hoped to achieve before the 6 months were up.

We shared out magazines that we'd brought to camp and lay them on the floor. Each of us took a piece of artblock paper and clipped out pictures and words from the magazines to stamp onto our paper to make a vision collage!

Zhan Yang zoomed through this activity with a huge poster of F4. The rest of us took quite a while, especially Shufen and Sophia who gamely used up every square inch of their posters! Mine was only half-full by the time time was up (with gaping holes in the half-full part!) so I folded it in half and pasted it to the wall anyway!

There were dreams of travelling around the world, there were dreams of performing, there were dreams of setting up a sports centre... lots and lots of dreams. Dreams that we hoped through the lessons we'd learnt to never give up, to always pursue, we would achieve.

Then we gave the youths a challenge. We gave them a budget of SGD$10 per pax. With that money, they were to plan, budget and prepare a BBQ for the whole team, volunteers plus youths! We volunteers lazed as the youths went into heavy discussion of what they wanted to buy, what they wanted to prepare, and here Bellah really shone - clearly and concisely, Bellah came up with the prices and quantities per pack for every single item on the list and totalled up the whole grocery list for the rest of the group! Wow!!

The youths changed and then went off to market, whilst we volunteers took a quick nap (not lah! Where got time!), had a meeting (more like it, right?) and prepared the BBQ pit.

7:30 p.m. and the youths came back and poured the change into my hands - SGD$0.85. "Err... hello... you guys spent SGD$149.15 ah?!" "Uh-huh" ... and they held up their shopping bags. Hoo boy!!!

We ate.... and we ate... and we ate.... and the time for the next activity came and went, and we were still eating... Wah lau eh, we were like stuffed potatoes by the time we finished that whole lot! And we still had enough left over for many activites! Thomas and Nuraini patiently stood by the grill roasting and roasting chicken wings until the TWO HUGE PACKETS were finished!

But, we learnt something new - did you all know that cheddar cheese melted on anything - mushrooms, crab sticks, sausages, whatever - is seriously mm-mmm delicious?! Ooooohhhhhhh!!! Thanks David for the tip!

Of course AFTER the BBQ, we were too full and sleepy to do anything else but blink sleepily as David debriefed us. There were quite a few nodding heads and 'blur' eyes by then... and soon we KO'ed... literally.

How literally? I was awake at 6a.m. I knew the boys were planning a b'ball game at 6a.m. Nobody woke up. Kekekkkeke....

So the next morning, the youths led the yoga, and that was fun too, as the youths pulled out their fave bits from the yoga session the day before to torture us with! Nuraini by her turn just put us through some stretching exercises that she had learnt as a dancer that made us yelp!

Trotted back upstairs ... and my mind is so blur by now, I can't remember what we did.. sorry!

I do remember that last of all, we had to clear up the dorms and canteen and toilets... thanks to Nuraini especially, who had really taken up the challenge of keeping the places clean, none of the areas were terribly dirty. The girls were awesome as they scrubbed and scrubbed the girls toilet - I don't think it's ever sparkled quite so much!

Then last session... photo-taking by Shufen who had to rush off straight after that (thanks babe for the beautiful piccies!) ... and then David asked us to close our eyes... and we remembered... what had happened throughout camp, what we had learnt, the things we had done, and the goals we had set, the visions we had for EA and the brick walls, and the whole journey ahead.

Then it was time to give farewell hugs, and waves goodbye, as the youths pulled on their backpacks and left the campsite...

The youths were an awesome bunch, that is the strongest point in my memory. Farhan, Razanoor, Azhari, Zhan Yang, Bellah, Nina, Nuraini... each of you were beautiful, inspirational, had unique talents, and gave your all to the 2night-2day camp. Looking so much forward to the journey ahead with all of you. Agape!

And not forgetting, David, thanks for an amazing camp programme and for running it all by yourself! You RAWK!!!

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