By Muhammad Hameem (3C)
The SL Camp (or Student Leader Camp) was pretty tough and strenuous, but I believe it echoes the struggles of a leader before rising to the position of leading the community. A leader will inevitably face challenges and opposition from others but must always work to uphold his values no matter what in order to have the credibility and approval of his followers. I would like to explain also that one thing I have learnt from this camp is the importance of the decisions we make as leaders based on our values.
Now I may have veered away from the topic of this year’s SL Camp, but this just goes to show how complex leadership can be, even in the context of a school like ours. As much as we are taught to strive for the school’s motto to be the leaders, thinkers and pioneers of a better age, we must be aware of the impact we make on people and society at large. Leadership is a relationship between a leader and his followers. All this may seem a lot to be learnt from just a single camp organised for student leaders, but this is what we were gradually exposed to over the span of programmes planned out for us.
I can still remember how all this began about a month ago right after the mid-year common tests, when I made my first choice as a leader: to become a leader in the first place. It was a challenge that I had accepted as I entered Camp Foundation. There, the ground rules and expectations of what seemed like a camp for uniformed groups were laid out, apart from the lectures we had along the way. These lectures got us to think deeply about our vision both as a body of student leaders and as leaders of our own CCAs.
There were several activities and games that, in retrospect, I realise were designed to help us find this vision while working together. For example, we were blindfolded in groups and asked to form a square while holding on to a cord. At that point in time, these games seemed pointless and I admit that I was not actually constructive in my participation, but now, as I face reality and the people I am required to manage in my CCA, I understand how important it is not to leave my members in the dark like I was and instead involve them in our common goal. Communication, in this case, no longer seems like such a big word brandished by teachers during leadership training, but is actually something very essential to us as human beings.
Finally, there came the expedition, which was the crux of the SL Camp. It was a short but extremely intense two days spent dragonboating, kayaking and hiking around the island. Although all these may seem very similar to OBS (Outward Bound Singapore) for the Year 3s, I gained fresh insights into leadership such as the importance of teamwork and perseverance. Again, despite being big terms that carry clichéd connotations, they only gain meaning in the face of one’s individual journey in challenging oneself. Personally, I had to confront my own fears of capsizing while kayaking. I realised ultimately that my fears were merely constructs of the mind and imagined constraints to achieving what I wanted. Likewise, the limits of my mental and physical endurance were put to the test during hiking, but by remaining positive and holding resolute to the human spirit and will within me, I ultimately survived the camp to write this article!
Alongside this personal journey, the camp was very enlightening with regard to a united Rafflesian journey. We explored the history of RI through a visit to the old Bras Bash campus where we had the chance to meet and chat with old Rafflesians. Additionally, at the end of the camp, each Student Leader lighted a lamp to signify lighting the way for the school (as well as a reminder of the orientation theme for the Year 3s—‘Lodestar’). This was a symbolic and memorable moment of triumph in our journeys together as a school and also on a personal level.
At the end of this, if all this seems like an intensely personal reflection (or clichéd one, for that matter), I urge you to look beyond this and see the reflection of the leader in yourself as you read this article. Finally, I would sincerely like to thank everyone involved in making this camp a success especially the teachers and their immense effort in realising the school’s motto of nurturing thinkers, leaders and pioneers for a better age. What better way to end this than with the school motto: Auspicium Melioris Aevi.