At first, we both were unhappy with our mom's decision without our consent, but my mom's iron fist triumphs over both of us.
So we both began to attend weekly meetings at school. The first few months, honestly, was very boring but I got to meet a lot of new friends although I was the only Form 3 fellow there among the younger boys. But I didn't let this age barrier pull me down; instead I embraced it and got along with them. February came and my first outdoor activity with my company was an expedition in deep jungle of Broga. Many of us were eager including myself as I have done expeditions in my previous school. After arriving there, we got a short briefing on the expedition, the do's and don’ts' as well as many other things. Next morning, the expedition began and while hiking towards our camp site, many of us started to feel tired and when fatigue started to kick in, so did our emotions especially when our group's water bag unfortunately started to leak water as it was pierced by a prick from a plant. I also remember swearing so loud as my friend, Michael was giving the map to me very slowly, and that didn't end up well. After the expedition, it was back to our usual BB routine - come to school, get punishment, singing the BB songs, praise and worship, and sports. After the expedition, my captain, Mr. Nicholas Yeap, encouraged me to join the Basic NCOs' Training School as he said that I have potential to be a leader in the company. I was still a little bit blur and I just joined for the sake of following my captain's orders. BNTS was quite tough as being the newbie with members who have more experience than me l, it was very frightening. I didn't know what to do and I didn't know what you couldn't do. But slowly I got the hang of it and I met many new friends there.
Then came the mid-year holidays and rather than spending my holiday rotting at home, I have decided to attend that year's highlight, Pesta, which was held in Johor. Me, along with 32 boys including officers took off from school and heading towards Johor. Most of us were excited and also anticipated what Pesta had in stored for us, it was our first time ever attending such a large event with companies from all over Malaysia and Asia coming together for a great time. Throughout Pesta, not only I got to know more about Boys' Brigade and its other aspects, also I got to get closer with my company and we shared many fun memories together from cheering for our KL team in every competition and also shouting our hearts out during praise and worship. It was truly memorable and I got to witness the side of BB that I didn't know, all this while I have thought that BB was about discipline and order which many students in Wesley thought of Pesta truly open my eyes to BB and this made a huge impact on me and my love and interest towards BB grew exponentially. After Pesta, my company went to Singapore to have fun and also meet up with a company in Singapore. We had fun there with the other company members as they took us around Orchard Road. I remember we had this treasure hunt of some sort in a mall in Orchard Road. We also had the pleasure and honor to stay at a hostel in Singapore which belonged to a Girls' Brigade company. This entire experience for me was amazing and this really left an unforgettable mark in my memory. After Pesta was over, I was more into BB and that I wanted to serve in the company. I was slowly aiming towards being an NCO, that guy with the chevron and the white lanyard, the guy who is able to give punishment, the guy who has the authority. Little did I know, an NCO was more than that, but I was still young and didn't know much of the BB culture. Months later, my buddies and I registered for Drill Camp, drill in BB is the essence of discipline and is highly looked upon by officers and the members. So we were all prepare for the worst as we expect this to be very strict and that listening from my fellow friends, drill camp was terrible for them. After drill camp, I got to know more about drill and its importance in instilling discipline in a company.
After the long holidays, as the door we knew as 2012 closed, a new door opened; 2013 had rolled around and 1 entered my second year as a BB member. I was appointed as squad leader. The school implemented a new regulation where all Form 1 students are compulsory to join either Boys’ Brigade or Girls’ Brigade. This made most of us really worried and also posed as a challenge for us as we didn’t even know how to handle more than 90 recruits. Boot camp was divided into two camps which were set in the first two weeks of school. This was a surprise for both the recruits and us as I know the recruits aren’t prepared and willing to spend their first two weeks of school stuck in school during the weekends. Even with all these obstacles, Boot Camp was still an amazing experience from station games, mystery night, to helping the new recruits; not only did I get closer with my new squad mates and also I had a recap in my BB knowledge. One thing which was most memorable for me in Boot Camp was I actually slapped one of my squad members for fooling around during Boot Camp. No kidding. I got scolded and lectured by my Captain, for not thinking my actions through. Funny enough, I actually shared this story to my ANTS mates when I attended it two years ago. Most of them were shocked that I actually did that and I felt slightly embarrassed.
Speaking of ANTS, two months after Boot Camp, I attended Advanced NCOs' Training School by myself, so I felt a bit scared at first stepping into MBS KL. ANTS was tough as most things were coordinated and done by us and us only. For example, we had to buy and cook our own dinner with a minimum budget, coordinating our ANTS opening ceremony and many more. The worst part was completing our punishments which were around 100 and more sets of star jumps and keep in mind that 1 set of star jumps are 50 star jumps. I was exhausted just like the others and we all manage to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. During the mid-year holidays, I attended a leadership camp organised by our own company to train up a new batch of leaders in our company. The leadership camp was a great experience for me as I played a part in planning the future of our company as well as bonding with the future leaders. I was aiming to be an NCO during that period of time so this camp gave me an opportunity to aim for that goal. The most memorable part of this camp was that we went to watch a movie together in KLCC and our bond was even stronger. After leadership camp, I was given a chance to help out in organizing a joint camp which comprised of our school’s Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade. This was one of highlights of the year as many recruits were excited for more the one reason which was they got to enjoy the camp with the girls; even I was excited to be honest. The station games were fun and the mystery night was amazingly fun. After that, our company had our enrolment day service and it was a day to remember. I gave a speech and at last I was promoted to a Lance Corporal, with great pride 1 accepted the chevron and lanyard. Leadership retreat, Founder’s Day, outings with my company, been there, done that.
2014 came by, third year of my service in the company and I was excited for the new batch of recruits. With more leaders and squad leaders to help out, it wasn’t much of a problem. I was selected to be part of the drill team and being the first ever drill team to be sent out by our company. It was truly an honor for us to be part of the process. We had our drill practice every afternoon after meeting to practice the old drill sequence and at first we didn’t take it seriously but after much encouragement from our Captain and officers, we felt more energetic and more pumped up for the cause. We had our first drill camp and we train day and night to perfect our drill and it was tiring for me I guess. We had our boot camp later April and with a more systematic team, we managed to pull it off. What was most memorable of Boot Camp this year is that I took part in the mystery game as I was one of the characters and that I was so into the character I was portraying.
After Boot Camp, we had our company’s Fun Day, which basically was the whole meeting just having fun and games among our members and I was station master which made it more fun as I can ‘torture’ most of the members. My station was about answering questions and splashing water, these two terms together you should know what the game is about. After all the fun and games, the day has come; Drill Competition was just around the corner and we had our last minute of practice to perfect our drill. Our Captain gave us a massive pep talk telling us that no matter win or lose we tried our best and we all know it. The next day we had our final practice before heading off to SMK La Salle Sentul for the drill competition. We walked there and my heart was beating so fast as I was really nervous, and my mind kept repeating this line, ‘Will I screw up? Will I choke halfway’, I was crazy scared for the competition but confident or not I had to face it. We reached there and I saw many other KL teams were getting ready and they look more prepared than most of us first timers. When it was our turn to drill, I was very nervous, my heart beat faster and I took a deep breath and calm myself down and started to drill. At the end of that 5 minute drill which seemed forever, I felt a sense of relief running down my veins and we had done it. Most of us felt a great sense of pride as we were the first drill team in our company.
Mid-year’s holidays came and Pesta was here and held in Kampar. Now a bigger group of us were heading to Pesta, this made me more excited for Pesta. We had our day zero for Pesta which was us taking a tour around Kampar, going to Kellie’s Castle, Gua Tempurung, and having the famous Chicken Curry Bread, and Claypot Chicken |Rice in Kampar. Great time to bond with the others as well as managing to see the wonders of Kampar. Then, we headed back to the school that we were staying at, washed up and started to group together and playing the guitar while singing along to songs. Pesta was a great experience, I have the pleasure of meeting new people including two girls from Hong Kong and also got closer to other BB companies. Many of us were thrill to play the station games and cheering for our KL state drill team. The Youth Concert was the highlight for me during Pesta and we all shouted and cheered and sang our hearts out during the concert, along with a funny yet inspiring speech from a Pastor. The Youth Concert meant a lot to me as I finally accepted Christ into my life along with few of my friends. After the Youth Concert, we all sat down and had a talk among each other in our dorms. Pesta ended with the grand banquet and performances from the various BB Companies, it was special as Pesta this year featured a round town march to the venue and it was nice seeing people around us looking at sharply dressed boys and girls marching down the streets of Kampar. Many memories can be taken from Pesta and few are unforgettable.
Every journey has a beginning and an end, unfortunately my journey was put to a stop as my parents felt that BB was taking over my life and that when they found out my brother and I were Christians without their consent, they were furious and forced us to quit immediately. It may sound saddening, but the one they couldn’t take away was my memories. For most BB members, they all crave the ending of getting their Founder’s Award and wearing a blue sash and a chevron full of badges. But for me, I felt that the journey was way better than the destination, with so much fun-filled memories I had in BB, I felt a bit sad leaving behind my company and my friends. Writing this indeed triggered many memories and I even smiled and chuckled at some hilarious moments we had s a company. So, I leave you with this story of my BB life and may you get inspired by it as BB is more than just discipline, order and leadership, it is much more.
LCpl Vincent Ching graduated from Wesley Methodist School Kuala Lumpur in 2014. Despite his busy hectic schedules as a student and a Brigadier, he has scored 9 A’s (4 A+, 1 A– and 4 A) and gave thanks to God for his excellent results in SPM. Well done and congratulations Vincent! We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.