Describe the first time you went on a camping trip. You should write about the activities at the camp and explain how you felt about the experience.

- by Wesly Kong
Curtin University

During the school holidays last year, I had an opportunity to participate in a 3-day camp organised by the Boy Scouts Association of my school. As it was the first I had ever taken part in, I was really excited about it before the trip.

Apart from the scouts from my school, those from a school in a neighbouring town were also invited to attend. There were about 100 campers altogether, of which approximately half were from the other school.

Early in the morning of the first day, all of us gathered in front of our school. Three school buses took us to a place, or rather a roadside, that was near to the campsite. It was about an hour’s ride away. Upon arrival at our destination, we alighted from the bus and hiked through the forest to the campsite which was about 300 metres away.

As we were walking, I felt the difference between the atmosphere in the countryside and the urban area. The air in the countryside was much fresher and cooler. A gentle breeze blew against my face and it was so refreshing. Apart from our footsteps, all I could hear were the rustling of leaves and birds singing. Everything was so calm and peaceful. It was a wonderful feeling being so close to nature. The campsite was a clearing in the forest. There was a clear stream nearby and its rippling was audible.

On the site, we were divided into 10 patrols. Our first task was to set up camp. Our patrol leaders taught us how to pitch the tents. As we were cooperative, all the tents were soon put up. After that, we prepared lunch. Members of each patrol were supposed to make their own meals. So my fellow patrol members and I helped to cut firewood, fetch water from the stream, make a fire with a bow drill and cook a meal. The food was not well prepared - the rice was overcooked and the vegetables were too soggy. The tuna, which was taken straight from the cans, was appetising though. Nevertheless, we finished all the food as each one of us was as hungry as a wolf.

In the afternoon, we learnt knot-tying - a skill that helps us promote our discipline and focus. Besides that, it is also applicable to first aid, fishing, survival, woodwork as well as to make useful camp tools.

That evening after dinner, we were free to mingle with one another. We had a good time chatting and playing games. We also slept soundly that night as we were exhausted from the activities all day long.

On the second day, we had eggs and bread for breakfast. Then, we put on our uniforms. After our scoutmasters’ inspections, we proceeded to our next activity - a visit to an Iban longhouse. We had to hike for around 2 hours before reaching the traditional longhouse, where we were warmly welcomed by the longhouse chief and its occupants. After presenting them with our gifts, one of their elders who was fluent in English gave us a guided tour of the longhouse before lunch was served. After savouring the delicious traditional delicacies, we were presented with a performance of the local dance and music. We were also invited to join in. We had a lot of fun doing the ‘ngajat’ dance. Pretty much of our second day was spent on the longhouse tour and we were back to our camp before nightfall. After dinner, we gathered around a campfire. Each patrol had to present either a sketch or a song. Some of the sketches were really hilarious and we laughed till our stomach hurt.

On the last day of the camp, all of us participated in a cross-country race, in which we had to follow a trail of small bits of white paper across fields, forests and hills. Despite the fact that I accidentally stepped on muddy soil and had half of my right leg covered in mud, I managed to complete the race as one of the top 10 runners-up. A brief award presentation ceremony was held after the race and I was awarded a medal. Following the ceremony was a session in which we had to memorise each of our fellow scouts’ names, failing which press-up punishments were imposed. Of all the 100 or so campers, only 3 managed to accomplish the task. I was proud to be one of the 3 as I had worked really hard in order to avoid being punished.

The next morning all of us prepared to go home. We broke camp and cleaned up the site. Scouts from the other troop would have to part with those from ours. During the camp period, strong bonds of friendship had developed between us. Thus, a little bit of sadness was inevitable before we parted. As we valued our friendship, we exchanged contact details and promised to keep in touch with one another.

Overall, I felt extremely grateful and pleased to have taken part in the camp. It was a real eye-opener for me. I had acquired new skills and increased my knowledge. I made quite a lot of new friends as well and some of them were among my best. Moreover, the experience had also boosted my self-confidence and sense of satisfaction. I definitely look forward to attending such beneficial camp again.

*By SPM standards, this essay is a bit lengthy. Click here for a shorter version.