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Camps for Champs

by Heng Hui Mei

Students demonstrating teamwork in a game and enjoying themselves in the process. Student leaders performing on stage for their campers in RED Camp 10. Students don't only develop leadership skills in camps - they also forge strong friendships through the things that they do together as a team.
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Students don't only develop leadership skills in camps - they also forge strong friendships through the things that they do together as a team.

Learning revolves around books and projects, but that is not the only way to learn while you are in Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Put the books and projects aside for a while. Real learning takes place with close human interactions during camps where you let both your hair and guard down.

In the course of a camp, students acquire knowledge with the help of certain roles, such as student leaders, crew and committee members. These leadership roles are usually awarded with valuable “Leadership” or “Service” co-curricular activity (CCA) points.

“Ngee Ann provides a lot of opportunities for people to join camps and it’s the only time when you can go all out,” says Lydia Tan Xiao Xian, 20, a fresh graduate from Early Childhood Education.

She participated in 16 camps throughout her three years in campus, which is quite a feat for an average polytechnic student. She was the vice-president of Ngee Ann Polytechnic Student Union (NPSU) and organised NPSU’s Freshman Orientation Camp 2014 in her final year.

Having gone through numerous camps, Lydia emerged a changed person. From the impatient and impertinent girl that she was as a freshman, her fellow Group Leaders (GLs) taught her how to manage her emotions.

She adds with a little chuckle, “We have this ‘fine’ system. Whenever I roll my eyes or ‘tsk’, I will be fined 50 cents. I usually do it in a combo and end up having to pay a dollar.”

“If you don’t have this experience [of joining camps], you will always be at the receiving and not the giving end…”

– Ms Lim Ping Ping

Besides positive character development, there were some others who conquered their fears. One of them was Bryan Chua En Kiat, 20, a final-year Accountancy student.

He reveals, “Last time, I had stage fright. Now I can handle speaking in front of a crowd.”

As a GL, he had to give instructions and teach cheers to a large group of campers. By doing so, he gradually overcame his jitters in public speaking.

Independence and discipline were drilled into Bryan after several runs of various camps, including Roadmap to Explore and Discover (RED) Camp and Freshman Orientation Camp Arts and Sports (FOCAS). He left his comfort zone by learning to cook and clean because more often than not, camps required him to stay over at TheLoft@94.

In the vicinity of NP, TheLoft@94 is a chalet-styled accommodation for students.

Unfortunately, Bryan did not ace in his studies. He admitted that he did not juggle his commitments well. He had friends who managed to secure a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.8 while being heavily involved in camps. In Bryan’s eyes, they were “legends”.

Aaron Mitchell Goh, 20, a familiar face in camps, concurred with Bryan on the difficulties involved in balancing studies with camps.

For Aaron, his relationship with camps was a very special one. His academic life was not a bed of roses. When he got four “F” grades in his first semester, he was kicked out of school. Upon his successful appeal, he was reinstated but had to repeat that year.

The Electronic & Computer Engineering student shares that camps propel him to study hard. He feels that he has to excel academically in order to attend and enjoy the camps.

Honing his leadership skills and discovering more about himself, he came out of his first camp with a changed perspective on life. In one of his camps, he also did not expect the camp committee to think highly of him and offer him an esteemed leadership position as Chief GL.

Fun and friends aside, when queried on the negative aspects of joining camps, Ms Lim Ping Ping, RED Camp 10’s overall in-charge under the Corporate Communications Office, had the same sentiments as Bryan. She noted that time management was the only trouble students faced.

However, she remarks, “If you don’t have this experience [of joining camps], you will always be at the receiving and not the giving end. It’s good exposure and part and parcel of growing up where you are in this position to take care of others.”

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