Saturday, June 21, 2008

ASPIRE proper

I think that it is time to have a full account of ASPIRE.

At first, it seemed that the ASPIRE camp requires every single candidate to be in the peak but through what i have been through, it is just holding it there and push through your comfort zone. I experienced pain and suffering but also learn a bunch from the scouting brothers from other schools.

Day 1 marks the beginning of the camp proper. Although the examiners came late, the candidates mingled with each other and out of a sudden i felt that i am not prepared. Initially, it struck me that what the examiners really wants is all the small details. Like my prepared equipment list saved them all the trouble of double checking my equipments and I felt a bit annoyed standing right there doing nothing saved for the brief moment that Mr Daniel bend down to check the expiry dates of my first aid kit. It turns out that the examiners seems to be on my side for dont know what reason. Perhaps myself being the only green candidate over there, without actually any tips and trick from my direct seniors.

Thus, the camp activity started. We did a run, some stationary exercises and a 10 lap swim. It is then the thoughts of giving up flashes through my mind. To my horror, I am not fit enough to take the camp, hence, from then on, my performance has been unsatisfactory to the point that every other candidate thinks that i am the weakest link and know my number and name by hard. After the PT session, we went on a hike, at first, it was 2 kilometers. Still quite ok as the activities at our destination is considered slack as we struggle to find checkpoint 7 during our orienteering activities. It was then followed by a hike, from Potong Pasir to Punggol, my turf.

The hike is rough and tiring, at least for me. I nearly threw up during the walk which i can only describe as intensive and hard. With the rest of the candidates pushing me hard in order to get me moving. I felt desolated at first, but ultimately, i got used to the pain. It is like there is a constant thud in my head and i was literally spinning. The only thought that is flashing in me is that of "Hey guys, tell the examiners that i am pulling out." Still, for some unknown reason, i pressed on, maybe inspired by an earlier post that i promise myself. Note to myself, eat more food before camps, as one needs a lot of energy. Even then, it is better to throw up something other than water, at least you wont get choked on it.

Upon reaching the checkpoint, I was quite relieved that it is really my turf, the one that i spend at least three days staying. I love the spot, the unofficial ACS(I) turf in our very own punggol forest. Overjoyed, I gobbled up all the food that is given to us. Well, most of us are hungry and thirsty anyway. The fun part is still trying to built the crane and the stairs, while the rest of my patrol is in a frenzy of building our crane, I started to chop wood randomly, like seriously randomly. Partly because i had started to hallucinate because of the high intensity activity that we have been through. I started to see things, think and heard distractive things. At least i managed to chop down a major tree and built a bridge for all to see. That is at least what i could do without injuring myself and maintained a clear mind. My only goal at that time.

Without realizing, time has crawled, walked and flew away, day break, everyone's dream. The crane taking form and our shelter getting up. It was satisfying that the crane has taken its shape and our shelter forming. Then, I built my tried and tested elevated fire place and started our first fire. I can still remember the fresh scent of the firewood, the wetness of the floor and all the pesky ants and mosquito. All seems so familiar.....yes.....survival instructorship course, except this time i am surrounded by professionals, not amateurs like what i have been to.

Stove cooking is what i considered fun and did not make a mess out of it. The noodle is unsatisfactory though, the ever presenting egg smell is just plain disgusting, without enough sauce to properly seasoned it, the noodle is nothing but a experiment go horribly wrong. At least it is still edible in the end. the other food had a lousy taste as we are not given enough stuff to make our food better, despite what i felt, the examiners hinted a satisfactory to good reply to my team's food, fried Kang Kong with Egg, Fishball Noodle and Salt Fried Chicken.

After lunch, it was what everyone dreaded the most, the Situation Response Initiative Test, SRIT for short. Mr Delwin said that it will be a sudden event that will catch everyone off guard but everything seems to be easy, too easy. I love one particular scenario that have a whole cannibal tribe chasing after us and we have to climb through an electric fence. That owns everything that i thought of ASPIRE. Despite that, I got the Medivac scenario, hauling a guy from our camp site is no joke. Tiring but satisfied, we continued on to our next activity, gathering wood for out backwoods man that evening.

A particular thing worth noting is that out of a sudden, everyone disappears. Leaving their parangs behind. Prompting Mr Spencer Phang to confiscate every single knife he saw. That includes my survival kit, which i dont really used save for the matches inside, luckily, i brought my matches along to test out the kindling, which works,despite the suppose exposure due to a hole. It works despite the slightly damp condition which bolster my confidence in backwoodsman. I was quite jealous though, My Spencer Sharpens a few of the blunt confiscated knives, but at least i got my trusty blade with me around, and it is not exactly mine but a junior', still, the camp begins to brighten up, despite the strain and stresses i had earlier.

Backwoodsman was eventful as it took me 4 matches to light my fire, so a immediate zero for fire starting. I was utterly demoralized as i excel at starting fires, i felt defeated. Although the fire was beautiful upon the fourth match, I feel giddy as morale, is important to this situation. In the end, I managed to make every single item given to us edible and actually tasty for some. My barbecue chicken is what a chicken should be like, wood scent and succulent. My rice is good as it is like fully cooked although there are still some bullet rice, a term i learn from the examiners.

Later that night was the survival night where we are only required to make only a trap, food procurement and water collection. I did badly due to some incident that Mr Spencer Phang say that it is better to keep to myself. I think it is better for me to forget what i say and move on. Those kind of things is also demoralizing for the camp.

Surprisingly, i was allowed to sleep for three hours, to shake off what i saw. During that time, i missed out quite a lot and i considered myself failing the camp already, trying to complete my only hope, the pig spear and a few half hearted attempts at gathering food and water. All is lost.

After clearing up, we were sent to HQ and thus the end of ASPIRE 2008 first intake. It was an eventful camp whereby i have place under physical and mental strain but i felt that i have overcome them, reaching my limit on the second night.

We rest to make a far longer journey, as i rest, i wish that i would push myself even further to accommodate future challenges, as well as other surprises along the way. It is a personal journey, and how it ends depends on myself. to achieve, one has to sacrifice, by ever means, enjoy life, enjoy friends and enjoy yourselves. We only have one life, for though living life to the fullest that we can be in awe.

Well, that was my journey, for all those little one out there, treat this camp as a crucible of all your scouting skills and your inner mettle. It is through suffering we know where we stand and the will be no gain without pain.

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