Posted on 28-May-2014
A variant of the classic opener, the seemingly simple task of moving bottles from one spot to another, was tasked to us. It should have been easy, but the time constraints coupled with the knowledge of the consequence of failure only served to intensify the assignment. Though little else was done during day 1, much strength had already been spent.
Everyone woke with headaches the next day. The backbreaking day ahead outlined in a similar manner, all set off. Over the course of the next 24 hours, simple matters like packing lunch boxes were transformed into burdens heavier than lead. For some, the need to judge others when unworthy was too much. Many succumbed to tears, others simply gave up.
Yet within the darkness there were beacons of hope - discussion sessions, each 1-2 hours long. These, in contrast to everything else, were periods of rest. Times where we could share freely and relax a bit. Topics were thrown around faster than baseballs. Everyone had something to say, something which they needed to tell. Lessons were learnt best during these times. Sadly, all good times had to come to an end, always too fast for us.
Many mistakes were made within the 3 days and 1 night (the second was morning). Much punishment was experienced, sometimes more than deserved. Yet this was a camp where “learning safety by accidents” was the best way to do so.
Report by Corporal Jack Lim of 12th Kuala Lumpur Company
After a lot of time wasted on registration, we then proceeded to the next activity which was ‘Pass the Bottle’. The activity was quite challenging as we had to retry many times and some of the leaders did not pass the instructions clearly to the members. In the end, we managed to reach our timed goal without breaking any of the rules of the game. Through this game we learnt that teamwork and planning were vital for success.
We then had a short session on Goal Setting with our coaches in our individual classrooms, which was followed by a quick lunch. After lunch we started practice for the opening ceremony Guard of Honour. The practice took an extremely long time as the parade commander who was a Private was unsure of what needed to be done and most of the members did not chip in to help out. The practice dragged for a very long time before we finally held the Opening Ceremony and following that a group photo session was taken.
After that, we had a drill forum. In the forum we discussed on what the actual purpose of drill is and whether it is still necessary in Boys’ Brigade. This was a very controversial topic as the opinions of various participants varied greatly. While most supported that drill is vital as it promotes discipline, obedience, respect, physical bearing and many more positive qualities, others argue that all of these qualities are not displayed out of the drill ground. In the end, all the participants were asked to bring this topic back to their own Company to further deliberate the discussion. This forum had sparked many thoughts in the ways we thought about drill that we never thought before.
After the drill forum, we went for our dinner. Later, one of the Coaches, Lt Andrew Tan brought us through a lecture on Problem Solving in the hall. After the group lecture, we went into our respective squads to continue the discussion. We then had a praise and worship session together with the BNTS participants followed by supper and vesper. Before we could return to our dorms, we had to complete some of the lots that were given to us throughout the day. We had over 30 lots to complete and one lot was equivalent to 50 star jumps. We only managed to complete a few lots before calling it a day.
The next day, all of the participants gathered at 6am sharp for physical training. It was quite a mess as there were no officers to supervise us. It was all led and organized by the participants. We soon elected a leader among ourselves and carried out physical training on our own. We then had a quick rest time before breakfast at 7am.
After breakfast, we had our Service led by Chaplain Mark Tan. We then prepared ourselves for the Activity Based Program. We were totally unprepared for what came against us during the Activity Based Program (ABP). There were three separate sessions with individual sets of briefing and debriefing. The first activity required us to record a video to promote Boys’ Brigade to a new parent. We performed quite poorly given the time constraint and did not have a proper plan and leader. In the end, when we were debriefed by the camp facilitators in the ‘Hall Of Fire’, we were told of our mistakes and we had to eliminate members from our team which we thought were underperforming.
Although we tried our best to improve during the second task which was packing lunch exactly alike for each member, we did not reach the expectations set by the facilitators. After being judged by our Coaches on our food preparation, we had our lunch and then went back for another debriefing session; having to kick out more members again. There was even one squad in which the whole squad got eliminated as they were rebuttal and wanted to sacrifice themselves instead of following instructions. With a heavy heart, we then had to continue with the third task.
We were given ample time to plan before we were briefed on the third task, which was a Photo Hunt around the area surrounding Sekolah Sri UCSI. We had to walk quite a distance to find the places which were shown in pictures sent to us through Whatsapp by the Head Coach. The competitive spirit amongst the participating squads soared when the Head Coach brought in the members who were eliminated from the first two rounds to form a new squad!
In the end, only one squad managed to find all the places and there was even one squad that had mistakenly gone to the wrong place and walked way out of the proximities where the places were located. But in the end, we all took it as a learning experience and all of us gained a lot from the activity based program.
After the activity based program, we had our wash up and dinner followed by lessons on Ethical Decision Making and Conflict Management. We then had a short break before having our ABP debrief and team sharing in our own individual squad classrooms. We then had Praise and Worship session with the BNTS participants. However there was a rule in which ANTS participants cannot interact with BNTS participants and vice versa.
After the praise and worship session, we were instructed to stay back in the hall while the BNTS participants left. The goal of the night was simple - to settle all of the outstanding lots that we had which was over 40 lots which amounted to over 2000 star jumps. On top of that, we had to do it together in synchronization; starting and stopping at the same time. As some people stopped later or before the rest, we had to redo many lots which we had otherwise would have completed. Many hours passed and we only managed to complete a few lots. We were asked to think of another solution to solve the huge problem that we had.
In the end, as it was already very late into the night, or rather in the wee hours of the morning. We were given a few options to settle our outstanding lots. Among the ways that we did was to have consecutive performances held one after another without pauses, doing 120 star jumps consecutively, doing drill sequences with no mistakes and so on. Among the ways to reduce our lots was to identify the ‘passengers’ who were not contributing to help reduce the lots. They were given punishments for not contributing to the team. In the end, we finally managed to complete all our lots and we went to bed at 4am.
On the final day, we were given extra time to rest as we went to bed extra late the previous night. After having our breakfast, we had a group lecture on Christian Leadership followed by a short discussion in our own squads. We then had a sharing session for all the participants and officers to share their thoughts and opinions before having closing ceremony with all the participants of ANTS and BNTS. After the Closing Ceremony, we had our group photos and saying of goodbyes before parting for home.
Throughout the camp, I had learnt and experienced many things which I would have otherwise never come across in my entire life. I have definitely become a better leader and a better NCO overall as a direct result of this camp. ANTS had taught me many life lessons and meaningful topics and most importantly that we cannot always rely on our officers for everything. I would definitely encourage all qualified Boys’ Brigade members to go for this NTS Camp. After all, this is the “School for the Advanced NCOs”.