It was tiring, the first night. Yet we were all ready to discuss the details of the program the next day. It was meant to be the main highlight of the camp. We were going to Ubin for a cycling cum hiking cum expedition cum photography cum map reading trip.
The officers in charge, including myself, were each given a set of clues for the cadets, as well as an instructor’s copy of the map indicating the whereabouts of the locations of clues. We went through the routes and safety precautions. Accordingly, we were all expected to find shelter if i gave the word for lightening warning (if i recieved any), until i gave the ‘all-clear’ word. Cadets on doubles are also expected to dismount before going on downslopes. A revision of their cycling course was also to be conducted prior to setting off at Ubin.
All was set for the next day. Cadets had to fall in by 5.30. We would set off at 7, reach Changi Jetty by 8 and start the trip by 930.
So there i was after the briefing, at 1am, settling finances for that day. i told myself i would pack the the trip the next day.
Then came Saturday. Breakfast was bad. Milo was too hot. I felt my chest tighten. I figured it was just the excitement and anxiety about the trip.
The bus came, and i ran up to the staffroom to get the cadets cameras. I got my towel, my sunblock, my hand sanitizer, my cap, my cash receipts, money, camera, water bottle, the cadets’ EZlink cards and ran down. Still panic-stricken.
As we was leaving, just outside school, I realised I had forgotten to bring down my walkie talkie. I told the bus driver to stop for a while, before a realised it was actually in the bag which contained the EZlink cards. We moved on. As I was chatting with Dk about field cooking, I realised I left my pack of Myojo noodles in the staffroom.
A few seconds later I realised I forgot to bring the instructor’s copy of the map. And almost immediately, I thanked God that I passed the cadet’s clues to a SNCO in my group. “lucky!”
The we halfway through. that tightened chest remained tight, butterflies flew several rounds in my stomach. I decided not to think about the trip, lest I remember more things I was supposed to have done, but did not do.
We finally reached the jetty, and had to re-allocate some groups because the boatman refused to take 2 extra cadets per boat. The boat ride to Ubin was good. Nothing went wrong. I must say CS and CK coordinated the release of bikes to cadets pretty well. I was very proud of them. They did a very good job. Back at the basketball court, we noticed many army personnel. CK said they were from Guards, according to the emblem on their sleeves. (Cool stuff, real rifles, those “i-dont-care-if-you-dont-like-me-but-im-still-not-going-to-smile” look)
CS led the cadets with the warm up exercise. After another briefing, and toilet break, we set off. 9.30am. Everything looked good. Though I must admit, I was nervous because I have no sense of direction. The cadets in my group took the lead.
Though they were a little lost here and there, they managed to find the way somehow. After the first checkpoint, the doubles in my group had bicycle chain problems. And they learnt how to fix it for the first time. We moved on. The second checkpoint was up a gravel ground. The cadets found the clue and we headed down.
I was the last person. I had been down that slope before during the recee trip. It was managable. So I carried on. Not a problem.
Along came a friendly bee. It flew straight past my face, towards the left side. I felt something hit my ear. And then I heard some buzzing. I panicked, used my right hand to try to push off the bee, lost control of my bike and skid and fell down the gravel slope. I got my other leg off and sat on the ground. The cadet before me realised I fell and tracked back.
My legs, all sandy. So was the left handle of the bike. I looked at my injuries. Abrasions on both my knee. Abrasions on both my palms. Abrasion and bruising on my leg. Bruising on my arm.
It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I wasnt bleeding profusely. In fact, after rinsing with water, the wound started drying up. I was fine.
I went to pick up the camera that had flown across a metre away and hung it back on my bike handle. I walked for a while before I decided to get back on the bike. That was when I realised it was painful when I moved my thumb. That was also when I realised my bicycle chain had come off. The cadet who fixed the chain came to help me. It was done. We set off again after I rinsed my wounds with sterile solution.
I already felt bad. We went onto our third checkpoint, and I took out my camera to snap some shots.
The next disappointment was excruciating. My $700 camera’s screen was cracked and I couldnt see anything on the screen. “Well done”
I was depressed, and even more depressed about that fact that I couldnt show my cadets my true disappointment because I didnt want to slow them down.
We covered a good 6 checkpoints before we decided to break for lunch. The SNCO in my group had 3 packets of instant noodles, so I survived. But that was when I realised I forgot to bring utensils for eating the field-cooked food. *Sigh*
“I must have had left my brain on the sofa I had slept on the night before”
Field cooking was fine. After clearing up the area, I realised I could use the hand sanitizer to clean my wounds, since we were out of alcohol swabs. I put one drop. I screamed. The cadets thought there was some ferocious animal nearby. I used my towel to wipe it away. I screamed again. I used my water to rinse off.
We set off the area at about 2. We were left with 2 more hours to complete 4 checkpoints. We managed to find one more. And spent the remaining hours trying to locate the rest.
Along the way, I started to wonder if the security guard would be around in sch like he was supposed to have been. Because I didnt bring the school keys with me, I realised, the kids would have to wait outside until the security guard opened the gate. I had to call a collegue staying nearby to help me out. Another down point. My school keys were in the school. After settling school keys, I felt much better.
We were to report at 4.45pm at the basketball court. But we were still trying to locate Chek Jawa at 4.45pm, for 2 more checkpoints. After trying hard, we decided to head back. We weren’t the last group, but still we were all worn out.
Other incidents included bike chains coming off another 3 times. and sporadic rain, including lightening and thunder. Interestingly, I did not recieve lightening warning from Lightening Risk Management system.
like what CH said, it was just one of those Murphy’s Law’s day for me…. but this perked me up…
“Wounds will heal and camera have yr end sale. 🙂 so laugh it off”
Basically, I felt down the whole day, burdened with feelings of letting down the cadets in my group because I wasnt as good in navigation as some of those officers who have undergone official orienteering training in army.
Regardless of my upsetting trip to Ubin, I think there were alot of learning points. We all learn as we go on. I think this yr’s camp was not as hectic as last yr’s one. Last year, we did not go out of sch. This yr however, we brought cadets out for dragon boating, Ubin and Nightwalk at Pasir ris Mangrove Broadwalk. It was tiring because the cadets had to push themselves physically. It was more of an Adventure Training Camp instead of Annual Training Camp. Which we wanted to try out.
I think, we’ll make next yr’s camp more hectic. Camp must be special and meaningful too. With more learning points. Appointment holders for ATC ’08 are settled. But I cannot say anything until after official decision is made. Gosh, it’s our 10th yr anniversary. Humongous plans. It’s going to be crazy.
My overall reflection for Day 2 of camp:
Knowing that it was going to be a long day out, i should have packed prior to sleeping the night before. because of the rush in the morning, i left out certain things which i should have had taken with me.
I really appreciate my cadets’ will to persevere to find all the 10 checkpoints even though all the up slopes and dirt tracks tired them out. They were forgiving of the doubles who had to stop now and then. They kept track of all the group members. They designated break times and had some fun seeing the wild boar and scarecrows (on the wrong track) and cookie monster………
For me, as the Dy Camp Commander, I feel I could have done better. There are things that went well. Expenditure and stuff, i’ve been settling everyday. So that’s good. Auditting should add up. will do it on wednesday. There were no major injuries. I think mine was the worst, so that’s a good thing. Things were ok. just that I feel I could do better.
Comes with experience, doesnt it…