Fun and adventure during Gawai Dayak
THE JUNGLE, the river, and the wilderness had become the surroundings for campers’ three-day, two-night stay at Camp Pueh, Sematan at the recent MyLeaf-Dayak National Congress Gawai Adventure Camp held from May 28 – 31.
The 129 trainees between the ages of 15-22 years old spent their days doing outdoor adventure activities, practicing and learning new skills and life experiences of jungle survival.
Each activity, project and game was designed to give campers an insight and appreciation for nature, the environment, and excitement outside of social media. It also provided them an avenue for fun, and the chance to challenge themselves, learn survival skills, and work in a team.
According to camp commander for the MyLeaf-DNC Gawai Adventure Camp, Awang Julai Awang Udin, 63, from Kota Samarahan, the camp has provided a unique and special experience for the campers.
A retired army officer, he has been a part of a number of outdoor recreational activities including various camps since 1993: Human Development Camp, Youth Camp, Summer Camp, and Self Development Camp, focused on activities especially catered to school students. He is also well-versed in leadership courses all over Sarawak and West Malaysia.
“MyLEAF camp is different from any other camps. First, it is not military-based, so people can expect it to be relaxing while focusing on various activities that challenges the physical and mental ability of participants.
Some of the students here had never even go into the jungle before, so through the camp, they were given opportunity to do that with their trainers and other participants.
“The students who had attended the camp were extremely happy and we are proud to become a part of their happiness as well, spending quality time together doing things and most important of all, we have become one happy family, with good response from the participants and also the trainers,” he said when interviewed by THE BORNEO POST SEEDS during a meet-and-greet session with the camp trainers and participants.
For Mohd Izwan Azim, 27, from Selangor, the Gawai Adventure Camp was new to him and one of the best experiences for someone who has been involved in outdoor activities as a trainer since 2007.
An aerobics instructor and trainer, his experience includes being a trainer for Kem Integrasi Perpaduan Kelab Rukun Negara 1Malaysia in 2010, where he travelled all over Malaysia, looking to expand his experience and share his knowledge with his trainees.
The first thing he observed that made this camp different from other camps was the language difference.
“When I try to have a conversation with my trainees, they speak different languages, and some of them I don’t really understand. Although that may be one of the challenges that I have to face, I consider it as the beauty of this camp. Fortunately, the trainees are so warm and friendly, eventually we do bond well with all of them,” he said.
Izwan believed that the trainees had responded well to the camp, since all of them were so enthusiastic and always wanted to join in various activities.
“What I wish for is that, when these students return from the camp, they will tell a great story to all their friends who may have not joined us this time, and will also become interested to participate in our camping activities in future,” he added.
Full-time trainer and coordinator for MyLeaf’s programmes Abdul Malek Abdullah, 26, from Kuala Lumpur, said that he was glad for the opportunity to be part of MyLEAF. “I was honored to be entrusted with my commitment in handling indoor and outdoor programmes.”
He has been involved with recreational and outdoor programmes since he was 17 years old and has been handling various programmes, events and carnivals.
“Gawai, a celebration for the Dayak community in Sarawak, is surely a new experience for me. I have been part of various camps, including Eco-Camp and Summer Camp, but I consider this Gawai Adventure Camp special because it is not merely a camp, but also a programme in conjunction with the festival of Gawai, where we can celebrate it together with the participants here at Camp Pueh,” he said.
For Malek, the trainees were very supportive, learnt fast and didn’t require any intensive training.
“As a trainer, I hope that such camps will be continued every year, with more exciting activities, and with MyLeaf as our umbrella, I am sure that outdoor programmes such as this will be greater in future, where we can acknowledge cultures and races in Malaysia apart from sharing our knowledge and skills with the trainees,” he added.
Students at MyLEAF-DNC Gawai Adventure Camp
When we met up with the students that made time for MyLEAF-DNC Gawai Adventure camp at Kem Pueh Sematan, we found them to be full of the joys of spring.
So we grabbed few of them to ask what their camping experience had been.
Seventeen-year old Tracy Jelo has always enjoyed outdoor activities and she is also actively involved in various club activities such as softball and photography in school.
An outdoor person and a nature-lover, she said that the MyLeaf camping program had provided her an opportunity to be part of the things that she loves; nature, people and outdoor activities.
Among her favourite activities during her time spent at the camp were mountain-climbing as it involved teamwork and constant communication between teammates and survival cooking where she learned alternative cooking skills.
“During the cooking skill session, we used bamboos to cook rather than pots and pans,” she explained, adding that they also learned how to look for edible ferns and plants in the jungle.
The camping programme was definitely an enjoyable experience for her as it was a chance for her to meet new people and be involved in the outdoor activities she loves so much. Besides that, the bubbly and outgoing teenager who hopes to be in involved in tourism one day who loves meeting new people from all walks of life said that the camp had taught her about self-discipline, confidence, and teamwork.
Genyvine Meryence, a 14 year-old student shared her favourite part of the MyLEAF-DNC Gawai Adventure Camp, “My favourite part of the camp was the night walk because I get to walk in the dark and I let my imagination run wild. Then I realized there’s someone who was next to me. I thought that was funny and interesting.”
As it turned out, it was one of the trainers walking next to Genyvine in the dark jungle during the night walk.
The student from SMK Kota Samarahan said that it was her first camp and her first time away from her family.
Yet her experience during the MyLeaf Camp was unforgettable. “I learnt about teamwork and self-confidence. I don’t mind the mosquitoes actually. At least I can make a lot of new friends.”
“I would come back for this camp!” Genyvine exclaimed. “But only if my parents let me to join again. If I had the chance, I would come back again”.
Nicholas Chu Sin Ket heard about Gawai Adventure Camp from his friend and decided to join.
His favourite memory of the camp was the jungle trekking. “I also like that we had to gather all the dried leaves and sticks to start the fire by ourselves,” Nicholas stated. He was referring to the survival course they learnt during the camp.
Nicholas who is a second year Diploma Computer Studies said, “I learnt a lot about teamwork and friendship during the camp. I also met a lot of friends during this camp.”
If he were to given an opportunity to join another MyLEAF camp session, Nicholas would definitely sign up for it.
Like Nicholas, Vincent Chin Eik Han also heard about MyLEAF-DNC Gawai Adventure Camp from his friends.
“My favourite part of MyLEAF-DNC Gawai Adventure Camp was the night walk because I learnt a lot about myself through that process. All of us had to go into the forest about 50m alone, holding on to this thin rope,” said the 17-year old student from SMK Jalan Arang.
The night walk was an activity to let the participants to trust themselves and be brave by walking alone into the jungle at night.
For 15-year-old Niessa Farisha of SMK Jalan Arang, this was her first time on a camping trip. Before this, she never considered herself an outdoor person.
“Definitely the night walk, it was fun,” she said when asked which activity she enjoyed most throughout the whole camping program.
According to Niessa, her experience in the camp definitely bring out the adventurous side of her as she was not an outdoor person before and when asked, she said she would definitely join the camp again if she has the chance.
Self confidence, courage and discipline was what 17-year-old Oaisis learned throughout her whole experience during the camp.
According to her, the activities organised at the camp were not only fun, but also educational and informative. Among those she learned during the camp was cooking skills in the jungle.
Like Niessa, the night walk was definitely her favourite activity among all.
“At first, I was nervous because we have to walk alone, but after the walk was finished, I felt relieved,” she said of the courage-testing activity.
Although she didn’t consider herself an outdoor person before joining the camp, she would definitely join the camp again.
Putri Emma Melati came all the way from Selangor to the MyLeaf-DNC Gawai Adventure Camp. “I am a volunteer, my mum is a volunteer with MyLEAF so she thought it would be a good experience for me to come here and volunteer,” she said on how she ended up at Kem Pueh.
After spending a few days at the camp, Putri had nothing but love for Sarawak, “The first time I came to Sarawak when I was really small. So now I get to experience more. It is such a beautiful place, everyone is so friendly and the weather is so great.”
Putri admitted that the most challenging part of the camp was the ice-breaking session. Putri, a student studying at SMK Damansara Jaya, considered herself as a shy person but throughout the camp she started to make friends with the participants.
When asked whether she would suggest to her friends to come to Sarawak for MyLEAF camp, the 16-year old said “Definitely.”
Local talents who performed during the closing ceremony on May 30 include local artist, Rahim Maarof, the Old Tondong Road band, and a new sensation and also inspiring icon for the trainees, Nana Sheme.
For those those interested in MyLEAF and their activities, log onto www.myleaf.org.my and get updates about their next camping trip.