“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
As part of the leadership training program for Student Ambassadors and Class Leaders (I was both), I attended the LEAP Foundation camp with the School of EEE. Initially I had the pre-conceived notion that the camp would be about the same as what I went through in secondary school and in the DPA camp as they all focused on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. However, I would like to point it out now that the experience at LEAP Foundation is one that I will never forget and regret. The friends I’ve made, the memories I’ve made, the values I’ve learned.
Before the actual camp, we had a pre-camp workshop on the 7 Habits a week before the camp and what we learnt there was basically the 7 Habits and applying a few of them in some activities. One notable activity was to build the highest water tank that can hold the most amount of water out of only newspaper, masking tape and plastic bags. Our resources were very limited and time was also ticking. My group managed to apply the habits of beginning with the end in mind and putting first things first and were able to understand each other which allowed us to synergize well despite only meeting each other a few hours before. The end result was a water tank that managed to complete the task of well, although we only came in second.
The actual camp was when things started to get exciting. It was held at Kota Tinggi Rainforest Resort in Malaysia and you would think that it would be all fun and games because of the word ‘resort’ but noooo. We had to sleep on elevated concrete slabs with a pitched tent above as the only shelter from the forces of mother nature that awaited outside the thin nylon walls. The washrooms were just as bad. There was no sign of warm water and occasionally insects would come flooding out of the pipes instead of what you would expect. The lights were also not working so when showering at night, one could barely see anything in front or around him. Moreover with the abundance of insects and other creepy crawlies around, taking a simple shower was truly a nightmare for anyone with insectophobia.
When it was time for us to sleep, it was a time when I truly lost all faith in insect repellents. My tent was one that was quite a distance from the edge of the woods but somehow was one of the tents that became flooded with insects. There would be waves after waves of red ants swarming onto the concrete slabs that me and my friends would be sleeping on and every minute or so we would feel the occasional acute pinch on our skin. We would then proceed to flick the ants away from our body and go back to sleep but it doesn’t stop there. Soon red ants started falling from the top of the tent, landing on our faces and biting us. The ants were truly waging a war on us from all fronts. Before we knew it, just when the ants stopped coming, it was already time for breakfast. But the ants weren’t our only problem, there were spiders, flies, mosquitoes, bees, centipedes, millipedes and even snails! And the worst part was, my tent had the most insect repellents among the guys and they had absolutely no effect.
Of course the camp was more than just waging war on insects. During the camp we had to complete an array of indoor and outdoor activities that all required us to apply at least 1 of the 7 Habits such as solving puzzles and trekking. We then consolidated our learning by reflecting on our actions and the results of the activities in a reflection booklet and also presented our findings to each other in a group. My group also had a really dedicated and committed facilitator that was also a mentor to us. She took the time to really understand all of us individually and helped us to step out of our own comfort zones and transit into the leader we should all be.
Overall, I feel that the camp really got me to think about my leadership skills especially during the firefly cruise where we had a whole hour of peace and tranquility in nature with just us, fireflies and a boat. It allowed me to reflect on myself, what I stand for, what values I uphold and what I am committed to.