| You are in :: Home > News & Events
AROUND KEMAH KERJA NILAI MURNI REMAJA
One of the wonderful things about volunteering in
youth camps or workshops is that you get to see
graduate participants remember you kindly, though
the camp was aeons ago ... once, when my car broke
down, this young man jumped off his motorcycle and
helped to push it to the side of the road. He offered
to find a mechanic. Thanking him, I said it wasn't
necessary as someone was already coming. To my surprise,
he said "Ok, teacher, bye. You need anything, call
me at xxx". It seemed that he remembered being a
participant at an FPA youth camp years ago. Perhaps
incidents like this are one of the reasons for volunteers
to continue working in youth camps every year.
Some of this year's enduring moments unexpectedly
came during our first-ever Perpaduan(Unity)
camp co-organised with Kawasan Rukun Tetangga
(the Neighborhood Task Force) Mt Erskine, Kemah
Kerja Nilai Murni Remaja. The camp
focused on creating good values among youths. The
camp was conducted from 16th to 19th October 2003
at the Sports Centre of Westlands (PSKW) in Penang
and involeved 40 students.
The ten fully-committed volunteers ranged from 19
years to 71 years. On the last night, we celebrated
the actual 71st birthday of one of our volunteers,
Mrs Molly Kwong. She declared that she would come
back for the "surprise" party after celebrating
with her family (husband, children, grandchildren
and six dogs) because we are also her family! Late
into the night and early morning, Molly was on the
stage demonstrating dance steps in synchrony with
the karaoke performers. Grassroots volunteers like
Molly inspire me to work in community services.
I admire Molly's passion for life. I attended another
friends birthday steamboat dinner, but I made a
point to return to PSKW to see Molly cut her cake.
Molly joined Penang FPA in 1998. At youth camps
or seminars or National Council of Women's Organisation's
meetings, Molly puts those half her age to shame
with her energy. For this camp, Molly was put in
charge of food and beverage. Because of her, all
the 40 lower secondary school participants from
all over Penang had plenty of good food and water.
The caterer was impressed by our washing up system
and scrap food recycling for dog-owners.
Adding colour to the camp were the six youth facilitators,
who were coordinated by Ms Christine Low. Though
the going for the participants was tough at the
Intention Walk, Night Owl (a leadership activity),
Telematch and Station Games, they really enjoyed
these active breaks. These broke the ice for them
and with the facilitators' team. Edmund Phoong was
thoroughly drenched from the splashing during the
games; Kuan Y'ng Y'ng was powdered in flour and
Goh Hoay Fang had her face painted in colour stripes
just like the teens. Nur Azyyati, Jennifer Tan and
Loo Sian Siong managed to preserve their appearance.
A municipal enforcement officer, Mr Shankar, acting
as voluntary night camp warden, evoked very strong
reactions among some 14 year-old boys who had looked
forward to sneaking out of the camp hostel after
lights out but were deterred by Mr. Shankar.
On the second day, there was some drama. Four participants,
unhappy with rules like "no going out of camp area"
and "no hand phones" (ground rules were made by
participants themselves) were "caught" running away.
They were stopped by an alert volunteer. After a
personal chat with Engie, each decided that they
would stay, as they came to "make new friends and
have fun" and they would not be getting that experience
if they went home. Molly offered them the chance
to go home when their teacher (participants' going
home were to be fetched by parents or teachers)
came but they declined. On the last day, the two
boys and two girls declared that they achieved their
intention as evidenced in their autograph books
and they were glad to have stayed.
This Kem Nilai Murni was special because we worked
differently for the first time in many ways. Unity
and self-esteem were the values we wanted to create.
As Perpaduan officers had requested for a camp to
cater for ethnic Chinese and Indian youths, a lot
of effort was made to ensure the Indian youth participation
matched the numbers we had set. We succeeded through
intensive informal networking with Indian-based
organizations by Project Officer M Jaya. She telephoned
people while on the way to factory activities and
on the bus coming to work as there was only about
ten days to recruit participants. Without her there
would be no youth camp because it can only happen
when there are participants.
At the end of the camp, I can truly say that I experienced
unity and self-esteem when a team of people contribute
in their unique ways to realize a vision. Project
head Ms Yeap Meng Chee was so iron-willed to see
the camp through that she attended night meetings
with RT and morning meetings with Perpaduan.
Despite the challenges of budgetary problems and
changes, she really ensured the show went on. During
the camp, she came to facilitate workshop sessions,
went to work and then returned to the campsite in
Rukun Tetangga members who came for the games and
performances were amazed at the results of each
session: students' happiness interacting with others,
creative models of their team work, pride on stage,
courage using the microphone to speak publicly,
acting, singing and dancing. The Indian teenagers
spontaneously put up a cultural performance at the
finale. Parents'/relatives who came to fetch them
were bursting with pride to see their children do
so well. What they (parents and students) experienced
was more self-esteem and more unity with those they
Another first: strict discipline with penalty. The
penalty could be to exercise (for non-punctuality),
to sit in front of Ms Chan Bee Suan, female warden
(those playing with hand phones or side talking).
Students had male and female group leaders who attended
nightly meetings with the organizing committee.
In this way, the facilitators got to know how the
participants were doing. Strict discipline meant
no double standards. The volunteers were treated
likewise. I had a meeting at 7.00am on the third
day, so I left at 6.30am and returned before 9.00am
for my session.
It really showed up when we conduct activities with
love. All the volunteers had fun too. No moment
of boredom though they were tired out. A month after
the camp, a Form Two student who was a team leader
at the camp saw Christine and I with a volunteer
of Women's Development (WD) Committee and a visiting
FPA member from another state in a fast food outlet.
The boy waited for his parents and younger siblings
to come in to introduce us at some length... in
Hokkien. Whatever his academic achievement, this
boy will be a leader and FPA would have been part
of his journey.
With such dynamics, it is easy to understand how
it was that the education sub-committee volunteers
were motivated to run three camps in six weeks;
ie we had Camp Reach Out and Teach (ROOT)
MPWK (Majlis Pembangunan Wanita dan Keluarga)
and Regional RHAM (Reproductive Health of
Adolescents' Module) Youth Camp on top
of a myriad of other activities and the daily clinic
operations. FPA premises looked like and sounded
at times like a market in those months.
Ten participants joined as FPA members after the
camp, although their parents initially reluctant
or apprehensive. Our youth volunteers' zest to leave
a legacy speaks for itself when the new youth members
chose to be involved in the recently concluded "Reach
Out and Touch" World AIDS Day event on 7th December
As Sian Siong once said, "At first I don't know
why we do... it was fun doing, meet people, had
chances to go places; after some time, I knew what
made me continue... now I know how... that's why
I want to recruit other youth to join us".