12th May 2013
Kool Adventure Camp 273
Plarisan, Ma. Ezra
BA Psychology III
DAY 1 – February 1, 2013 Friday
Early Friday morning on February 1, 2013, I woke up to the sound inside my head that this was the day we all have been waiting for. Inside, I was like “Oh my gosh! This is it! This is gonna be cool!” I didn’t have enough sleep the night before though not because I was busy packing up my things but because I was so busy thinking about ideal sceneries and images running through my mind regarding the camp. I immediately jumped out of my bed and scrambled towards the bathroom hurrying and thinking that I was gonnarun late for our trip all the way to the camp site. Just imagine how excited I was. And then, all was set and I was ready to go.
With my friends’ company, I managed to drag myself there at Om Shanti Resort. This was where the camp site was settled. The place was pretty cool and placid. I could feel the sea breeze and sense the serenity of the entire place with my surroundings all green. The quietness of the whole resort was deafening that the sounds made by minute insects or animals were audible enough for your ears to receive their sound waves. With my eyes and my mouth wide open, I was saying to myself that this camp was really getting serious indeed.
So we got our name tags and our camp pouches. The first thing we did was getting oriented with the place. “Mansion” led the whole team to the pool area, restrooms, dining area and lastly, the main hall. He turned us over to “Fireblade” who gave us the very first activity for that day. You know what that activity was? ‘Twas the butterfly and caterpillar game. I thought the game was really stupid. Hahaha.But really, I also thought that that game was some sort of a warm-up for the succeeding activities. Despite thinking that the game was really stupid, ironic it was, I honestly enjoyed it. Who would’ve thought that teens like me still enjoy games such as that? After that, a lot of instructions were given by the facilitators. But of course, they all introduced themselves first. One introduced himself as “Mansion”, a Moreno guy with orthodontical braces. Another man, I think he’s in his middle age years, called himself as “Fireblade”. One woman with a tiny body structure and of below average height of women her age who happened to have a cute voice chose to name herself as “AC DC”. There were others too, but the three were the ones mainly assigned to handle us.
We got oriented with the dos and don’ts during the three-day-and-two-night camp. There were lots of introductions of camp names and tribes, games, assignments and activities during the first day. And oh wait, we had to surrender our phones to the facilitators. It was as if my whole world was shattering into pieces the moment my phone slipped out of my hands through my fingers into that phone box. I decided then that my life was over and that I was about to bid goodbye to the world.I’m just kidding. Hahaha.
The highlight for that day was the “Trust Fall” activity. It is a trust-building game conducted as a group exercise in which one person deliberately allows himself to fall, relying on the other members of the group (spotters) to catch him. The exercise can really be dangerous if someone within the group fails to do his/her part in spotting the faller. I thought it was tough in a way that I didn’t actually have any idea what was going to happen to me if ever my spotters fail to catch me. Well, especially because I didn’t know if I was going to trust them when I fall or not. The probable reason to this was the spotters that I had during those times that I was the faller, were just acquaintances and not really close friends. It was a challenge whether to trust them or not. I had a lot of questions and doubts in my mind back then – questions and doubts like “Are they really gonna catch me? What if not? I may be small, but I can be really heavy. Oh my, they’ll think I’m too heavy for them. They may not be able to hold the catch any longer.” But then, I came to realize what the activity’s real purpose was and tried to push those doubts I had away and buried them 6ft. under the ground. Guess what? I passed the test! Cheers to that! I learned to trust my spotters and learned to be trusted as well. To trust and to be trusted are the two sides of trust. My realization was that if I show one particular person that I trust him/her, there will be a big possibility that that person whom I showed my trust to will also trust me too. Each member in our “Earthling” tribe shared their own life experiences involving trusting. Some of them have trust issues and suffered hard experiences concerning trust. I came to realize that I am lucky because I didn’t and I am not experiencing tough times involving trust with my loved ones.I thought that I should be grateful about it.
After we went through the different activities the facilitators had prepared for us, I also observed that there was something common with the way they organize each of the activities and games. It was the learning model the camp was utilizing all throughout -the experiential learning model. The model consists of five stages namely the experience, describe, interpret, generalize and apply. This reminds me way back November 2012 during my 1st Play for Peace encounter. I truly can say that experiential learning is effective. Hm, I’ll expound this later on when I’m done with my story…
After the long day’s tiring tasks and activities, we were at last given the chance to freshen ourselves up. The funny and exciting part about freshening ourselves up was the part where my friends and I spared the shower room for ourselves…simultaneously. Hahaha. Since we were the last ones who used the shower room, we got so crazy, noisy and all. Now, just imagine taking a night bath in a shower room (with no roof at all) on a dark night with the stars shining so bright up above the clear night sky. It just felt so right. I mean, it was a beauty my eyes, until now, have been craving to see again. My, it was also freezing out there. We didn’t mind how cold it was. We simply enjoyed our night bath together. We were like “We don’t only sing in the shower, we also perform!” Hahaha.
The first day of the camp was just as I had expected. That night, I wondered and longed for the next day to come for they were saying the obstacles for the second day will be more challenging and more overwhelming. I couldn’t wait any longer. But for that moment, we called it a day. There was sheer silence. Only crickets were chirping. Moonlight was shining. Lights-out.
DAY 2 - February 2, 2013 Saturday
Rise and shine!! It was another day – a day with more overwhelming challenges waiting ahead of us. We got all ready and set off on a bus that led us to the ropes course at Punta Engano.
We arrived at the venue at last. There were lots of trees in the area. But what captured my eyes were the ropes that hung loose with one end tied to cable wires, poles several feet high, wall with climbing rocks and woods attached to it. I was saying to myself: “So this was what they were all talking about. Seems legit.” Actually, this moment was when I doubted myself if I can get past through the prepared challenges for the day. I got jittery inside and a lot of pictures were flashing inside my head on the possible things that could happen right there in the ropes course part. I had a lot of “what ifs”.But then again, I washed away the thought of it and diverted my attention somewhere else. I lunged myself into paying my full attention instead to the warm-up exercises and preliminary games that we did for the “heavy” activities that we were about to undertake.
Before we undertook our challenges, our respective tribe facilitators oriented us first on how to carry out the challenges, stated dos and don’ts, and empowered us to take them. They also reminded us that it was a “challenge by choice”. I was thinking I was gonna undertake all of the challenges because if I don’t, I know I’ll regret it. I knew that for sure, it will be a very remarkable experience having had to undergo the new challenging things we were expected to face. It would be a waste to choose not to pursue them. I knew what my preliminary goal was – to get past the obstacles and to be able to come up with that awaited learning derived from the worthwhile experience.
We had three dragons: 1. Pamper Pole 2. Wall Climbing 3.High-Y.
Dragon 1 Pamper Pole:
We took the Pamper pole challenge first before the other two. This time, I can say, was the time a mixing flow of emotions, feelings and thoughts went nuts inside of me. Of course, I had zip line experiences before but this one was a different. It was not as if I didn’t trust my belayers. I just didn’t trust the circumstances. I lack trust for myself as well.I underestimated my capabilities. I doubted myself. How was I gonna do it? I had that jittery feeling all inside of me.
I climbed up the ladder and up the pole. By the time I have reached at the top end, I sat and panicked a tad on what I was supposed to do to be able to stand up without losing my balance. Man, I could barely breathe. Like seriously? “Will I be able to accomplish this challenge? How?”, I asked myself. I chose to rest a bit, breathed in and out and looked over the scene that lay beneath and in front of me. What stretched out in front of my view was the sea. And what I saw below were my belayers – all of them staring up at me while gripping the rope waiting for my instruction whether to slack it or applytension to it. It was a nice sight not only because of the blue sea and the clear blue sky; it was mainly because of the tinge of concern, support andwillingness drawn on my belayers’ faces. I decided I was gonna do it.
Finally, I stood up and eventually found my balance. I stated my goals and desired directions in life. I took a deep breath and cried out loud:”Belayers, are you ready?” “We’re ready!”, they answered. Without much prepared effort, I jumped out from where I was standing for the aim of reaching the white rope that hung loose meters away. I failed to tap the white rope though. But the good thing was I had learned to conquer my fear and step out of my comfort zone for the intention of reaching my goal. Of course, that was with the aid of the helping hands of my belayers. Dragon 1 Pamper Pole, I’ve slain you.
Dragon 2 Wall Climbing:
Dragon 1, down. We were up to the second one – wall climbing. Yeah right, wall climbing, I’ve seen it in movies and the whole stuff seems like a piece of cake. News flash: I stand corrected.
We had four sets with three members each to take the challenge one set at a time. The two sets did just great and then, here came the third one. The three members of this third set did well as they started to climb up the ladder that led up to the wall. Unfortunately, when they reached at the starting level, one member, an accident it was, got a leg cramp. At first, we all thought that she was still going to continue what they had started. But the pain that she felt didn’t let her do so. She decided to retreat. Of course, we let her because this was now about the safety of our tribe mate. The touching part was her two companions gave in andgive up continuing their aimed track just for our tribe mate’s sake.They were, indeed, a team.
It was, at last, our turn. The usual, we had this “kulba-kulba the heart” and “kurog-kurog the feet” feeling. Up we go! Boy! The task dug sweats out of me profusely. There wasthat 5-minute sweaty-all-over-and-all-arms-and-legs-trembling momentthat I had to stand by with my left leg seeking support from a rockwith the right one loosely hanging and with my arms maintained against the wood. I was really about to tell my tribe mates that I am giving up. But what went inside my head was we had reached that far; I simply can’t turn back, not now. I refused to turn my tribe mates down. I had to do it. I had to endure the pain and continue what we had started in the first place. I held on for a little longer. And seconds later, we were there again, back on our targeted track. Lifting one another at every step on the way up without leaving one behind, hand in hand, we finally reached the top and looked down at our belayers proudly saying “We did it guys!” What interested me most was we never actually acquired the most pleasurable feeling the moment we reached the peak; it was what was happening between “us” on the way up. Knowing that we had our tribe mates at our back and we had each other side by side, we knew there and then that we could never ask for anything more.
We got down and received job-well-done pat and hugs given by my tribe mates. Then, it hit me. Recalling the earlier experience that I had as one of the belayers for our tribe mates, I realized that being the climber is not dead easy. It was not as easy as giving directions and instructions to the climber and finding a possible way or solution for them the reach the peak. I guess what I saw was a great epitome in pointing out the famous statement: “You’ll never know if you don’t try”. We didn’t know how hard it was up there until we, ourselves, experienced what they had experienced too. The application of those theories was much of a herculean task than just merely stuffing lots of theories in your head, I can say.
Here, I had much appreciated the value of teamwork as well. The black rope symbolizes the bond between the members. It shouldn’t be broken nor be detached from the members. The challenge was to reach the peak without leaving the others behind or else, the black rope will be broken. Now, what’s more interesting in the challenge was that, we had obtained more satisfaction of our success all the way up having difficulty carrying the others up than being there at the top end itself. It taught us the value of togetherness and the saying that goes: “All for one; One for all.” Dragon 2, you failed to beat us.
Dragon 3 High Y:
The last one seemed like the toughest of all.
There were these cable wires connected to form a letter “Y”. And at the center, where three cable wires meet, stood a rope. I hadn’t understood the mechanics of the challenge until the first pair was done. The hard part, we had observed in the task was how the pair could reach the end without depending or holding on to a rope and with just the mere support from each other. Seems tough, eh? We got so perplexed. We gave ideas and techniques to each pair on how to do it. Yet, it was still a hard job balancing weights between partners.
And it was our time. We did the same thing our tribe mates did. My partner and I met at the center rope. Here goes the hardest part of all – letting go of the rope and balancing weights. We did several attempts, then, rested a little, tried new attempts but still failed. While doing those failed attempts, deep in my mind, I was figuring out how to do it the easier way. What suddenly popped up was the way the belayers managed to carry the climbers earlier during the wall climbing. And I thought that what if we did the same thing too while my partner and I also get corresponding support from each other. Surprisingly, it worked! Again, we could never have done it without our belayers. Awesome it was trying to strategize and analyze things especially mind-boggling ones.
The center rope symbolizes for our comfort zones, or things that hinder us from reaching our goals. It may be our past, our fears, our anxieties etc. If we hesitate to let go of the center rope, then, we are just as far from moving forward to what or where we want to be bound to. It tells us that there are some things in life that we need to let go, overcome, and conquer in order to keep moving forward.
After conquering the three dragons, we gathered up with our facilitator and shared different things and learning based on our earlier experiences within the tribe.
We headed home tired and looked as if we got a tanning session the whole day.
We arrived at the camp site at last and we just thought that those were the only activities for the day. It turned out to be that there were still remaining ones.
We gathered by tribes. The task was about the assignment the facilitators gave us on the first day. On the first day, we were asked to observe someone in our tribe. The task was to confront that someone in the tribe and share with him/her our observed strengths and weaknesses about him/her.
After which, the three tribes gathered around a circle and this time, the activity was about us. Now, this was what I called the “melodramatic part” on that day. Really. I just laughed it off. I don’t really like melodramatic situations such us that. I was so uncomfortable with it – the sacred silence, seriousness and all. I couldn’t bear with the aura of that circle of camp mates. No. Not with the bonus feature brought about by the serenity of the place – starry night, cool breeze, and all that stuff. I was gonna die in peace. “Peace”, like literally. But what happened deep inside of me was internal reflection and realization. Goosebumps alert! Naah, I better keep those things to myself. Hahaha.
DAY 3 - February 3, 2013 Sunday
The last day of the camp! This was another day of awaiting struggles, fun, drama and learning. Good thing though, it was the last one Phew!. Pretty bad; because we all knew we were going to miss it! Urghh.
We had lots of games. The first one was the ball game. The part that got wrong there was all of the three tribes never got the whole point of the game. That was basically because each tribe was too focused on personal success instead of thinking about the whole team’s success. We were too competitive with the other tribes that we missed out the point of the game. Yeah, our tribe was the one that discovered it first, but it was too late. Oh well, we all failed. People’s competitiveness is an instinct, eh? That explains it. Anyways, it was all our fault. And no one else was to blame but us. What followed the ball game was the standing-up-with-teammates-simultaneously-without-losing-balance game. Well, actually, I didn’t really know what the game was called. It was a series of getting up without losing balance with the number of the members in the team increasing as the level goes up. It started by four members in a group and ended up with all the campers. It was sort of tough – getting up dragging the rest of your teammates together without leaving one behind and without losing the team’s balance or even just a member’s balance. Again, it implied teamwork, brainstorming ideas and collaborating efforts. There were conflicts during the game though. But after it, my tribe mates were settled again. We learned much more than what we had expected so. It was a good sign.
During lunch break, we had several songs to be able to come up with a training plan. The facilitators assigned each tribe with different types of training programs. Our task was to make a module and a plan for our assigned training programs. Everyone in our tribe contributed their ideas. We brainstormed them and we were able to come up with a module. After, we presented it to the entire camp.
And yeah, we had all the remaining time doing the MOST MELODRAMATIC part of the whole camp period. Blah blah blah. People were weeping, sniffing and oh, I just don’t know. Hahaha. Yeah, fine, I admit it. I wept too. Too much for that. I don’t wanna get stuck in this part here. You don’t want me to elaborate it, do you?
For me, experiential learning is effective. It is best to learn something I have experienced. By immersing myself into the experience, a lot of learning can be derived from it that merely learning by theory cannot provide. Through it, I can be aware that I am accountable and responsible of every move that I make. And with that, I can learn the consequences for my actions. It was about gaining control of my own actions.
The camp was not just about team empowerment and team-building, it was about self-awareness and self-empowerment as well. It taught us the value of finding one’s self within a team. It was about building one’s self first before getting involved into a team because it starts within the “self”. Because without the “self”, there would be no “we”; there would be no “us”. And as psychology students, we can’t only apply these things we had learned from the camp to organizational settings where we will be working in the future (well, hopefully); we can apply these to our respective lives as well.
All of those activities were symbols of the components of our real world..of our lives, indeed. If we have those stuffs called as “Figures of speech”, well, those dragons and activities during the camp were what I call as “Figures of Life”. They were just representations of the actual meaning of those things. The dragons, games and activities in the camp are the obstacles, problems, dilemmas in the real world. As I’ve seen it, the camp and the real world may be different in terms of their manifestation, but one thing is for sure, they both have just the same latent meaning. What I had physically experienced during the camp maybe different from the real life I have right now. However, the psychological and emotional experiences I had during the camp are exactly the same as what I have now in real life.
I may hate that part of the morning where I have to get out of bed and participate in real life, but knowing that God granted me the chance to have it, I know that I’ll always be grateful to him about it. I may fall, but there’s always a way to get up and make up. There may be times when I get so tired, stressed or depressed, but I know there will always be people who are going to cheer me up even at the very end of the day. I may be small, but I can be big whenever I want to. I may see myself as a failure, but other people see me the other way. When I feel like I can’t go any further, I can still bring myself to realize that the strength which carried me this far will take me the rest of the way.
And I truly believe in what they say that in order to uncover our true potentials, we must first find our own limits and then we have to have the courage to break them. They also say that a positive attitude gives us power over our circumstances instead of our circumstances having power over us. After all, it is indeed mostly just about a matter of adjustment, perseverance, self-trust, courage and positivity.