I love writing long posts like these. They are hours worth of work and editing, and I really hope you can have a thorough read, since posts like these are full of excitement! I do want to mention that there is a very, very detailed recount included in this post, so perhaps this might not be a full out ‘reflection’, in Ms. K’s terms.
The four days swept past my eyes before I could open them. Yeah, camp is over. However, during our recent stay at Zhaoqing, many interesting and amazing things have happened that are definitely blog post worthy. This blog post will first discuss some of the action-packed activities of this year’s camp, and then tell you all about my thoughts, feelings, opinions, and what I’ve learned and seen from camp.
This camp was like a story. There were some small climaxes, some huge setbacks, and of course – a slow start. For us, the slow start was the bus ride to Zhaoqing. It took us one whole hour just to get to the Shenzhen/Hong Kong border, and another five and a half hours to our hotel. True, not the longest bus ride many people have been in, but it was a slow start, since everybody was extremely eager to get started on some activities. I’d predicted before the ride that most of my peers would be well asleep three hours in, but not a single one closed their eyes. Everyone had found something to entertain themselves on the bus, even if it was just sitting in a seat and staring out through the window for nearly seven hours.
Anyways, we were late for about two hours when we finally arrived at the hotel. Everyone was tired but alive. We moved into our groups and went into our rooms to prepare for the first activity. Due to our late arrival, we weren’t able to experience the full activity (which was the paper factory). I, along with my group, set out. Jason, our group leader, told us all about paper and how it was made. We learned that paper was made out of bamboo, since it was the fastest growing plant around the area – one specific type of bamboo could grow a meter a day! This made it a huge advantage over other species of plants, since it is much more of a renewable resource. We visited the paper factory and saw the machines in use for making chinese paper. It was interesting to see how sticks of bamboo could be turned into thin yellow slips of paper. This is an example of both change and function. Unfortunately, due to the limited amount of time, we weren’t able to make our own paper. Just like that, our trip to the paper factory ended, and we set out back to the hotel and had a nice and calming BBQ for dinner. We had a small session on facts about world water, which was pretty intriguing, I’d have to say. However, I’m afraid I just don’t have the time to fit all the facts in one big post, since time is my major concern right now. That was the end of a very tiring day, especially due to the amount of time spent on sitting on a bus and doing nothing. I never knew sitting would be tiring, but now I realize it is bum-calorie-burning-intensive.
I heard the rain tapping on the roof was I woke up. It was raining. Dang, the weatherman was right. Back at home, he never was – how could he be so accurate this time? I slipped out of bed. It was damp and cold… That was a failed attempt at setting the tone for this day. Anyways… As you may know by now, our second day started off with rain. We were meant to do a cableway hike during the morning, but due to bad weather, we were denied the chance to do so. Instead, our group trekked to a reasonable sheltered area and played with water balloons! That’s right, we built catapults out of bamboo and launched water balloons at the invaders (Genghis Khan’s army, to be exact). It was great fun, and a super alternative to the cableway hike. Jason told us stories about Genghis Khan and even made a joke saying that he was nearing Zhaoqing and wanted to start a huge offense southwards from central China. He told us that all we had were a couple of bamboo sticks, some string, some water balloons, and a plastic red bucket. ‘Genghis Khan will be coming here in any moment! We have to build machinery to defend ourselves!’ he said. We then split up into three smaller groups and each built a well-planned catapult. Of course, we launched the balloons at ‘Genghis Khan’s army’, which consisted of Jason, other Dragonfly members, and some fellow students! It was fun seeing everyone have a good splashing. By then we were all tired and worn out. Luckily, lunch was approaching us and our hungry stomachs.
After lunch, it stopped raining! Weatherman, that’s my revenge. This meant we would be able to do the cableway hike in the afternoon, and Chinese painting would be shifted until the evening. The cableway hike was probably the activity that I was most looking forward to before the camp. We had to wear helmets and harnesses, just to make sure we were safe. Clipped to our harnesses were carabiners – ‘clippy’ things that could be hooked up to some wire or cable. As the activity name may suggest, we hiked on cables. Yes, there were cables to the left of us, to the right of us, and beneath our feet. The carabiners were used to clip on to the cables on either side so that we wouldn’t fall while walking along the cable beneath our feet. It was a real experience hiking along such a thin cable with such a great environment surrounding us. There were many trees, waterfalls, and natural rivers just to add to the fun and enjoyment. However, time was not cooperating. When you’re enjoying yourself, time just runs away from you. When you’re doing the SAT, time sticks to you like a magnet on a whiteboard. Just when I was thinking to myself that the hike would never end, it ended. How ironic. We were at the top of the hill. Chill-lax.
The sun was setting upon us, and we made our way back down the mountain using the back path. We had yet another nice and calming dinner at the hotel, and prepared for our late-night Chinese painting session. We were escorted to a conference room, but of course we weren’t there to attend a conference. The Chinese painting master was there to greet us, and off we went to the land of Chinese painting. Unfortunately, the late-night sessions weren’t very long, so our group only had the chance to paint one painting. We didn’t let that push down on us, as I think everyone used their best effort in their paintings and really put their feelings on paper. Since my parents are both Chinese, this wasn’t a new experience for me, but for some of my fellow peers, I’d reckon this be quite an intriguing and fascinating session for them. I could see through the windows that it was pitch-black outside, and my eyes were getting a little red. As we finished off our paintings, I yawned and wanted to sleep really badly. Fortunately, it was time to return to our rooms, and it was time to snuggle in the covers.
Day three of four. I wake up, and the weatherman does too. He saw me gain revenge on him yesterday, and so he does it again. It’s raining ou…. now it’s not! The rain magically stopped as we woke up. This meant we would still be able to do the great race! On this day, both our activities were in the Zhaoqing urban area, so we would be saying goodbye to our hotel until dinner. We set off to do our first activity of the day – the great race. The great race, for those who don’t know, is a competition where small groups compete and answer questions about a certain place. Each group has to navigate around this area to find clues for answering the questions. There are also photographs for you to replicate, so if you have sharp eyes, it might help your team win the competition! Anyways, this ‘place’ was the Zhaoqing Seven Star Crags. Being one of Zhaoqing’s most popular tourist attractions, it was a great place to hold our great race. We split into small teams of six and set off in the entire park with only a map, some photos, a slip of paper for answering questions, and our brains. Our brains being our brains, we asked different people questions about the location we were in and were risk takers. We were being observant of the surroundings beside us and worked as a cooperative team to achieve a common goal. Even though we didn’t win the competition, we sure did gain new knowledge not only on the Seven Star Crags itself, but our language skills and teamwork skills. By the end of the great race, we were feeling much better than before. By the end of the great race, we were certainly hungrier than before.
We had an unusual western lunch at the Dynasty hotel. No harm intended, but I really think that my peers should have a chance to try more of Chinese cuisine in China and try more of Italian cuisine in Italy. Oh well, I’ll go into that with more details down below when I start my reflection. After the meal, we headed over to a ‘ink stone carving’ village to carve some ink stones. We were asked to think about what design we wanted to carve on our ink stones to save time during the process of making them. The ink stone master taught us how to use the carving ‘pick’, and we were carving away on some practice stones just to make sure we wouldn’t ruin the actual thing. When the time came, the master gave us our real ink stones and we started working on them. It was much easier than I thought – the master told us that ink stones were very soft stones, and that they were very easy stones to carve and make dents on. By the time we were almost done, I was pretty proud of my work. I had faith and confidence in myself, which is very important. After our carving session, we took some time to visit the gallery – a place where some of the most expensive carved ink stones are kept. The master even told us that many stones were worth more than 100 thousand, or even a million RMB. I wonder how many people would even have the money to buy such a valuable thing. Just when I was looking at a beautiful ink stone, Jason told us that it was time to head on back to the hotel for dinner. Everyone left disappointed, but again – time is never on your side.
After dinner was the climax of the entire camp – the campfire. Smaller than expected, true, but what a great atmosphere. People were singing, dancing, and one of the teachers even got into it by acting out a part for a story! It was a heated, heated camp, and this was the last night of the entire thing! I really don’t have a whole lot to say about the campfire – all I need to say to summarize the whole thing is the word ‘breathtaking’. After the campfire came our last serious session together with our group – the debriefing. Everybody got to share what they learned in this camp, and what they learned about other people. Some even shed a tear since this would be the last time that they’d be at camp till next year. There were some bumpy parts in the middle, but overall the road was built pretty smoothly.
In a blink of the eye, we were on our way back to Hong Kong. It was another seven hour bus ride, but people were even more alive this time – they were so eager to return home! What I did when I got home? I embraced my bed the moment I saw it.
I hope you are still reading. As of this word, this post has a total of 2074 words. I’ve been in front of my computer for almost two hours, just typing and typing. There is still a reflection to come, so whatever is below this sentence will be another 30 minutes worth of work. Keep reading! Don’t get sleepy. I am.
Wow. Unbelievable. This camp was the best one yet. Here is a mini collapse of all my buzz that’s been going on in my brain about camp:
Food and Cuisine:
I’m so glad we were served mostly Chinese food. Though I am very used to eating it at home, I’m pretty sure some of my fellow foreigner peers are not. I still remember Kevin and I having a discussion just after lights out on international cuisine (If you don’t know, Kevin is also Chinese). Different places in the world have different environments and geographical factors that influence the type of food produced. In Asia, many countries use rice as their main ‘grain provider’. In parts of Europe and North America, the main ‘grain provider’ is bread. Both of these foods contain similar nutrients, but since they are consumed in different parts of the world, their appearance and growth factors are different. I really think more of our peers should get used to the Chinese cuisine, and eating during camp is a great way for starters.
They were fun-filled. Every single one of them were carefully selected and planned out for us. For this, I salute the Dragonfly staff for their hard work. Each and every one was safe, interesting, and have that little challenge factor in it. I’m pretty sure nobody got bored during any of the activities, since everyone was so focused and intrigued by the excellently planned activities.
First of all, I’ve learned one of life’s most important lessons – time management and being punctual. Jason would force us to do push-ups if anybody was late for a group meeting. Our hotel clock was 15 minutes ahead of time, so we had to plan accordingly in order to avoid the worst punishment ever. Still, life without punishments and lessons to be learned is like playing rock every time you play ‘rock paper scissors’. These are useful punishments and these are useful lessons that need to be learned.
Another big lesson in life was being mindful of others. When somebody spills their drink, I’d go and help them clean it up. If somebody wants some tea, I’d go and help them pour some. I took the initiative to help others during this camp, without them asking me to do so. This is also a step to becoming more independent, meaning knowing how to do things by yourself. Everything ties in together – normally I’d ask my parents about the time, but during camp my parents weren’t there. I had to make my own decisions, without anybody influencing me.
Most of all, being positive. Keeping a positive attitude is one of the things that I see myself improving upon, not just during camp, but from the start of the school year. If you scroll up and re-read that quote again, you’ll know what I mean. If you are positive on a rainy day, that rainy day would be the beginning of a rainbow. So, no matter where you go, bring your smile along. It can help your day become brighter, even if you are in some of the toughest situations.
That, in a nutshell, is camp shortened to a blog post.
Seriously, 2700 words. I was planning to write a short 20 minute mini 350 word reflection, but now this has turned to be one of my most time-consuming blog posts I’ve ever written. I really, really put a lot of effort in writing this, and now my head is hurting. If you made it this far, I salute you. You are a non-sleeping mammal. O.k., it is time to call off. I can’t even type one more wor…….