Thursday 13 June 2019

Our first camp with Families For Life

Last weekend was our first taste of camping together as a family, with Families for Life. Read camping, not glamping. When the invitation of this P.L.A.Y camp came, I hesitated. The princess mind of mine was processing the many images of camping in nature. Tent, public toilet, insects, food and the many out of comfort concerns.

Family that camps together, stays together!

I firmed up decision only when I thought of the many vacations we had with comfortable hotels and beds, and that we should try to do vacation more differently this time. No air con, no bed, no television and no wi-fi. Only modern nature. Mentioning modern nature because at least, we don't have to answer our nature calls the back to basic way. We actually have a place to shower! We did 2D1N at PAssion WaVe Pasir Ris where all activities were held within this premise, except for some activities that required us to walk out to the park. 

Fun activities and programmes were planned for the 50 participating families by experienced instructors from Better Trail. My heart cheered so much just by looking at the families who put comfort away to sign up for this camp, which we found out it was mostly the Mothers who did the enthusiastic signing up. Only Mothers have such wonderful idea of bonding! But I was probably the most courageous among all, my three year old seemed to be the youngest of age in the camp. I mean, what state of mind was it to bring a toddler to an overnight outdoor camp? And a whiny one. I had Juboy in my arms literally throughout most activities. He wouldn't leave my arms. 

Day 1
It was the pitching of tent upon arrival. A really easy task of opening the tent like an umbrella! After which we can put our belongings in the tent, but be mindful not to put any food there. The ground ants sniff out really fast. 

Obviously, only the men at work

After tent pitching was workshop for the parents and games for the kids! I attempted to leave my three year old with the kids group, but was called out from the workshop not too long later to a crying toddler. Yes, I had him in the workshop with me and the husband. Lucky though, he slept through the most of it. The parenting workshop talked about the 5 love languages of our kids, which sent us thinking about expressing more of our love in their dominant love language.

We then break for lunch followed by more games and activities. The kids got on to make some structures out of air clay and this was probably the most enjoyed activity by Juboy. He finally left my arms. While the kids were pinching on clay, I took some time away to make a tote bag out of an old tshirt. One that I will never get a chance to explore or do at home because 'me' time is rare. These activities were conducted in air con rooms! Best part. 

Air clay session for kids

My tote bag out of an old tee

We proceeded to do some nature walk together as a family. The facilitator leading this nature walk was knowledgeable and engaging. I am certain everyone learnt a thing new and different that day. Kids above 10 were brought to a different adventure of rock climbing, but Jazz decided to stay with us. 

Learning about ferns. P3 science.

After which, we played more games along with other families. I really love how it exposed our kids to not just play among themselves, but with an extended circle of kids and parents of varying age group. I was most glad to see my shy kids opening up to new friends and other parents during games. It is a play goal achieved when we have fun with no generation gaps in mind. 

Listing our family values

Time of song and dance

Night activities were interesting too. The camp's theme was Star Gazing. We were in for some learning on astronomy with a fun quiz at the end. We looked at stars, moon and spotted planet Jupiter through telescopes, and ended the night with some star craft making.

Back to being a student

Star craft making

We winded down the day with shower and supper (biscuits and milo). The kids had much fun making their own milo! Everything is DIY at camp, it is advisable that not to bring your helper along. Get the kids to work.  

In the tent
Jumping into the next morning scene when I saw our facilitator, she asked if I had a good sleep. In all authenticity, I replied, "Of course not". 

Pitch dark tent

I am princess pea, a tiny stone in the ground causes me much sensitivity. Okay, exaggerating. I managed to get some sleep. It was not easy drifting to sleep because the tent was really warm. Not the kind of warmth when family snugs together, but humidly warm. And there were five of us in one tent. Maybe we should consider bringing a portable battery operated fan next time. It got very much cooling in the wee hours though, and that was when we were thankful for the thin blanket we brought along. Trees and dew drops cooled the air.

RISE AND SHINE. We survived a night in nature. Even the toddler.

Day 2
I must say, the highlight of this whole camp was the family race. It was a race of segmented activities that allowed us to accumulate points as we play along. It was FUN!

It bonded the family teams together, bringing forth every individual's strengths and weaknesses. There were attractive prizes, but we were more focused on the play journey than the winning goal. Of course we wanted to play hard for the prize, but the daughter and I had to leave before the race ended because Jazz has gym class to attend to. The koala Juboy had to follow of course. The man and Jare stayed on strong to play. It was some good one to one time for this middle child and his Dad. 

Indoor game activity

Trusting his family

Sibling team

Cooking is his serious business

Readers' Special 
A quiz will be asked to start off the race. If your family gets it right, you may get a head start to begin. Bad at riddles, it took us some wrong tries and probably evesdropping to get it right. I can't exactly remember or copy what the long quiz was about, but 'bond' is the answer. Wind has its word that it was the same quiz last year, and probably next.

Tanned and tired, we ended the camp after lunch. Jazz was at gym, while I headed back with Juboy to reunite with the husband and Jare. It was some beautiful and interesting memories we collected during the camp. I witnessed a different side of the kids, especially Jare. I saw how he really enjoyed the camp, got excited about games, showering and teeth brushing. The venue does not have very promising toilet facilities of sparkling standard, and he seemed so army ready! 

So proud that Jazz and I actually put away our princess thoughts to get this near to ground and nature! 

Families are for life!

It was amazing how we adults actually fuss about camp's food, when the kids were not at all complaining. Food given was not fantastic, but it was not too bad either. To some grown ups, food is a serious business. I thought we had to exemplify being easy with eating whatever food choices given in front of the kids. My husband had KFC delivery in his mind, but I rebuked him. 

I thought it will be a good idea to get families cook or BBQ their own meals though. It is not often families come together to cook. The cooking role is not just for the Mama, but everyone! 

I did think we did look like refugees

First day's lunch

Dinner that felt like breakfast meal

Last day's lunch

We applaud the move of bringing our own utensil and cutlery to minimize disposals at meal time. My most enjoyed part was the after meal, when the kids would wash our used plates, forks and spoons. They were so enthusiastic about washing up for us. All I did was to sit back and watch.

Washing up!

All in all, I urge your family to take part in camps like such to bring the family bond to a whole new level! Where everyone is more task oriented than gadgets oriented. Camps may not be something we would take great initiative to plan on our own, but with a fuss free planning on location, logistics and food, Families for life has got it all covered at a very affordable cost. In fact, there are many fun family activities they organise periodically. Do check them out! I really appreciate this ministry!

Nature camp is very much about insects, crickets chirping and roosters crowing to the morning wake. Yes, roosters in the park. And for being the the east, the sunrise was scenic. An experience we do not have in the comfort of the home. More importantly, the kids have a whole new experience to remember and talk about.

I advocate this camp. It not only brought us closer to nature, we also bonded much as a family. A family that camps together, stays together! Staying tune... till next year.

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