Writer: Yap Juin Shiong
Editor: Janice Fan
On the 24th of July, King Edward VII Hall (KE7) had its orientation camp to acquaint freshmen entering this year with the hall as well as with others entering for their first time. The theme for this year’s orientation as thought up by the King Edward Welcoming and Orientation Committee (KEWOC) was “Voyage”, and represented both the trip that freshmen have made from their home countries, as well as the personal journeys that each would make while participating in the orientation camp, and living life in KE7.
This year, the theme had a noticeably ‘pirate’ touch to it (complete with costumed KEWOC members), and freshmen were split up into three different rival pirate clans- ATAS, Dim Sum, and Fishermen. As the orientation got underway, each group was tasked with decorating a unique flag with a multitude of designs to represent their group. The flags, reminders of the ancient practice of Roman standards intended to boost morale and for identification purposes, were to be a rallying point for each individual team over the course of the subsequent five days.
After the designs were skilfully laid to cloth in the communal hall, clans then engaged in a series of icebreakers on a team level, and with many people hailing from places both near (Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines to name a few) and slightly further away (Mauritius!), there was no lack of cultural diversity amongst all who were gathered together. Yet that very same day, the bonds of friendship were first forged as both Orientation Group Leaders (OGLs) and freshmen engaged in games such as “Polar Bear” and “Murderer”.
Following the screening of the orientation video after the icebreakers, a tiring round of station games ensued between different clans in the afternoon, during which groups battled to be the first to collect the first piece of a treasure map leading to the ultimate treasure- Davy Jones’ Heart! Completing the various stations, however, was no easy feat and required both brains and brawn as teams battled to complete tasks such as running around counting the total number of steps in KE’s block F, hunting for symbols around the hall and translating them to letters, and solving mathematical problems while finding a hidden treasure chest which required the answer as the key. Eventually, when all teams reached the final station, the exhausted clans were led back to the communal hall for their first taste of SP (Secret Pal/Special Partner) activities, where they were blindfolded and paired up to talk with another freshman.
The night only ended when clans were ushered to the tennis courts and treated to a rousing speech by the Pirate King himself before heading back to their rooms to retire for the night.
The second day of the camp saw freshmen waking up to a day of designing and painting their “ship”, a cardboard model which would be held up by two people and which would represent their individual groups. Creatively painted and hardily constructed ships were the highlight of the morning as groups competed to create the most visually captivating ships with recycled materials.
Following that, an important and particularly indispensable lecture about the CORS system of bidding was given to freshmen. Thankfully, this helped to shed light on a topic arguably more confusing than any module ever taken in NUS! Finally, in the afternoon, the campus station games began, which saw freshmen troop through the entire campus, visiting sites such as the faculty of science and Prince George’s Park Residences (PGPR), following blood trails deep into the night and hunting high and low in pitch black darkness all over the university grounds for clues to solve a mystery-themed treasure hunt.
The game ended late in the night and saw most freshmen heading back to bed, wearybut satisfied that their group had explained the mystery reasonably well with the clues they had found. A small group of students, however, excited by the prospect of further exploration and famished by the gruelling and intensely vigorous activities, headed straight for the (in)famous 24-hour prata stall in the vicinity of NUS for a snack late into the night, only heading back at the unearthly hour of 4 am. Though everyone agreed that it ranked as one of the craziest things they had ever done during the entire orientation camp, spirits were high as everyone made their way back to the university, tired but sated.
The morning of the third day was devoted to various talks given by the venerable Master of KE7, and the leader of KEWOC, after which groups were taught the various cheers and songs sung in KE7. All teams, however, were looking forward to the highlight of the camp in the afternoon- a trip to West Coast Park and war games between each team that would last for an entire day. In this event, clans were tasked to destroy each others’ newspaper wrapped hula hoops by throwing water bombs through them; however, unknown to clan Dim Sum, rival clans Fishermen and ATAS had covertly made a pact to destroy Dim Sum first. However, to their credit, Dim Sum defended well against the onslaught, and the alliance eventually crumbled as both clans turned on each other in frustration. Dim Sum eventually emerged as winner of the first round as their shield was well defended by people of exceptional height, while ATAS and Fishermen took the opportunity to attack each other’s undefended shields. In the second round, where clans had to wrap their clan leaders up in toilet paper (à la mummy) and throw water bombs at other clans’ delicately wrapped mummies, Fishermen eventually emerged the clear winner due to the agility of their clan leader in avoiding water bombs. The night drew to a close with a barbeque dinner for all the clans and another round of SP activities, where more exotic activities were performed by freshmen with their secret pal, such as feeding M&Ms to each other, or drawing out their partners’ faces out on paper while they were blindfolded. After a series of campfire songs (sans campfire), the freshmen were guided back to their rooms to rest for the final day.
On the last day, everyone was given ample time to rest from the previous night’s activities until the afternoon, when goodie bags containing the orientation shirt, as well as an ample supply of coffee (among other things), were given to each person, recognising the long hours they would put in during school term. Also, the various groups were lead through the Tunnel, a walk through the history of KE7 and a reminder of how strong the bonds are between the fraternity of KEVIIans. As groups were ushered out of the Tunnel, people were also given the chance to practice and perfect the mass dance before it was danced for the last time that night. Little did they know that the greatest surprise lay not in SP revelation, which was to take place later that night, but in the fact that they eventually had to perform the mass dance with their SP! The initial awkwardness was quickly overcome, and soon couples were tapping daintily around the dining hall in perfect time, before sitting down to a candlelit dinner specially prepared by KEWOC for the couples.
The night concluded with clans and teams disbanding to form their various block groups after undergoing an ancient, timeless, and secret ceremony (the details of which cannot be printed here!) that every freshmen who has been in KE7 has gone through. As people departed with feelings of nostalgia, the night marked the official end of the orientation camp…
Photos by: Chen Kok Pun