“Summer Paradise”

I was recently selected for the World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific (WYAAP) 2019 Summer Camp program.

I was truly excited to visit the Philippines, a rapidly developing country in the South-east Asian region. Reveries and expectations filled my mind while waiting for the dates to arrive. I remember singing the song, Summer Paradise in front of my bathroom mirror; the lyrics go, “My heart is sinking as I’m lifting up above the clouds away from you…” then, without further delay, I booked a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Manila, Philippines.

On the 3rd of June 2019, I arrived at the WYAAP office to join the camp vans for Pangasinan. This was where I saw many of the other campers who will be joining me. I thought to myself, “All of them look intelligent and brilliant. It seems everyone has prepared well with knowledge about the Certified Training Program (CTP).” I started to feel worried; however, I brushed the worry aside and approached almost everyone there. I introduced myself to them and made friends instantly until I eventually turned the worry into comfort.

After a 6-hour  van ride, we finally arrived at G Beach Resort in Pangasinan province in the Philippines. Then, something hit me; I felt something different about the camp as I thought to myself, “Wow, it has a nice view of the beach. It is not similar to most training camps I know of.” This thought and similar others raced through my mind.

After that, I was assigned to a team (where most of the people in it were below my age). Our team name was “Team Dignity” and our first team assignment was to compose a cheer for our group. “Dignity.” I was confused and we were clueless about how to even begin. Thankfully, we were able to work together in making a catchy cheer.

 

Left photo: Abraham Lee Liang (Author); Right photo: Team Dignity during one of the breakout sessions

 

In this new family, we were grouped together to study, work, and to go through camp activities. On the first day, I learned a local word, “sabaw” (to feel “out of it” in a way). I could say I felt that a lot on the first day whenever we had discussions after the lectures. But as the days progressed, our bond progressed as well. I was no longer “sabaw,” and I learned many other Filipino words just as I taught them words from my country.  Following the first day, our team grew stronger in friendship. My teammates never abandoned me and they were caring enough to make me feel joyful and at home. I was the only foreigner among my group members. However, after the six days at camp, they made me feel as if I were already a Filipino. Through the activities in the camp, I just felt so much joy.

I remember my teammates and I were struggling to review the 399 pages of the CTP manual the day before the test. But before the test started, I said to my teammates: “We struggle with the CTP because we care. We care means we must pass!” I thought I was confident, but my face showed I was panicking, which I guess my teammates noticed. But we stayed positive and encouraged each other. Fortunately, the “exam” was better than what we imagined and I am proud to say that all of us passed!

On the last day of camp, I did not feel sad to say goodbye to everyone. The main reason is that I understand that our bond will never come to an end. I said goodbye to all my friends in the summer camp and felt assurance within me that we will definitely meet again.

Overall, the camp experience for me could be summarized in a few short words, namely, Warm Summer, Nice View, Nice People, Memorable Camp. It was definitely a summer paradise for me.

Here’s a key message to future summer campers: “Expect the unexpected and just enjoy the experience. It is surely every future camper’s paradise.”

 


Written by Ngam Lee Liang (Abraham) from Malaysia, a WYA Certified Member and Alumnus of the 2019 WYA Asia Pacific Summer Camp

Published: June 19, 2019

This article is a 2019 entry to Thoughts About Camp, a blog series written by WYA Certified Members and Summer Camp graduates from the Asia Pacific region. Each article contains a personal reflection from a WYAAP Summer Camp graduate about how their experiences from the camp helped shape their understanding of themselves and of the world around them.