My boys had attended the ACS father-son bonding camp in Mawai 2 years ago. I, their mother, thought it was a perfect excuse for me not to go as it was a FATHER-SON camp. My husband, Meng Huat, bought my excuse and gallantly brought my twin boys single-handedly for the camp. But it turned out that there were other mothers who had brought their kids along as well, so this time round, I gamely signed up for it. Plus, it helped that the camp was re-named as the ACS FAMILY camp! So mothers, you have no more excuses not to go!
This family camp involved a hike up to Mount Ophir and it was truly memorable. My kids, being extremely urbanized children, had not experienced a lot of joys that the adults did when we were young. Mark, our expedition leader, who also happened to be an old boy, brought us to a natural (and cold!) waterfall the moment we arrived. It was a tough hike up to the waterfall but well worth it as the waters were so inviting and everyone had a good splash.
On the way up, Mark brought us to a zipline that was rigged up specially for groups like us. All the kids had a go, and many loved it so much that the adults gave up our turns just for them to have a second go. It is amazing that they didn’t frighten the animals away with their screams as they flew through the forest!
The first night involved camping in tents in the field which was a first for many of the children. The kids were all involved in setting up the tents and they all took pride in their achievements. So, though the adults, creatures of comfort, were not too comfortable in the tents that night, most of the children managed to sleep well.
The climb up Mt Ophir began at 6am the next day. I was surprised that all the kids bolted out of their tents upon the morning call. There were no complaining or whining and everyone was raring to go! The initial part of the climb was really tough, especially for unfit adults like me. But what amazed me was that none of the children complained. We had several P1 boys with us – like Barnaby, who is a year-end baby, the youngest of the group. These were the most amazing kids. Despite their short legs, they managed climbing over the boulders effortlessly. Ewan, from P2, was extremely enthusiastic. The soil in some places were slippery so he fell several times, but despite the scratches on his legs, he never complained, did not even stop to examine his wounds, and just picked himself right up and cheerfully continued on. We adults have lots to learn from the children!
The older boys were truly an inspiration too. Many of them took it upon themselves to help the younger P1 and P2 boys out. Some went as far as wanting to carry them up the difficult parts of the mountain! (which of course the adults put a stop to – for safety reasons). And they did so without any prompting from the adults. We were so proud of them!
And the boys were truly such gentlemen! My family was the only one who brought a girl along for the trip. I was initially quite apprehensive and was worried that my daughter, being the only girl there, would be left out, laughed at, or even bullied. Amazingly, there was none of that. All the boys accepted her and even included her in their games. Ewan was particularly sweet and kept looking out for her. And for that, I must include a big thank you for all the gentlemanly boys for not excluding her!
I think the highlight of the trip was the campfire we had upon return to base camp. Despite a hard day’s climb, Mark managed to drag all the tired souls out for the campfire and before long, everyone forgot about how exhausted we were and were clapping, dancing and singing along with him!
For the fathers, I think their highlight was the after-dinner entertainment. Amazingly, Mark managed to organize an adults-only networking session complete with ‘fermented barley drinks’ for everyone. There is no better way to relax after a tough day than over some ‘liang teh’ and good company!
And truly, God was with us every step of the way. He provided us a nice cool morning to hike in (Mark commented we had air-conditioning in the forest), and the weather remained good throughout the day. It was only when we retired to our rooms on the 2nd night after the climb that the heavens opened up and torrential rain poured upon us. Thankfully we were all nicely tucked in in our beds at the resort but we were all giving thanks that it happened only after our climb and not the night before!
And so, from the perspective of one of the 2 mums in the group, this is truly an opportunity not to be missed. Though the climb was tough and we were taken out of our comfort zones, we saw many qualities in our boys that we had not seen before. I strongly encourage all parents, both mothers and fathers, to join us in the following Family Camps, as there is truly much to gain from such trips. And in true ACS spirit, cliché though it may sound, THE BEST IS YET TO BE!
– Contributed by Parent Yew Woon Si