Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It is pouring, and we've had heavy rain nearly every day for the past few weeks. It puts me in the mood for reminiscence and story-telling. I have in mind a rain-related one. So, here goes:

We were 17 years old when we organized our very own camping trip. There were just a handful of us in the committee, and nearly 40 girls under our care. I suppose being in an all-girls school made us believe we are every bit as good as the boys (and much better academically) and could handle the outdoors every bit as well. We managed the planning almost entirely on our own - the booking of the campsite in the middle of a forest reserve, the transportation to bring us there and back, the renting of tents, the preparation of food, and well, activities. We were excited; the girls were excited; and well, the excursion sort of turned out disastrous but in an extremely enjoyable manner. However, I hadn't planned to write about the entire two-day adventure (the post might get too long) - just one amusing part.

The campsite was a little clearing in the forest, just large enough. Some of us had, prior to that trip, learned to pitch tents - actually learned from professionals, while we were in another jungle the year or so before. We had four-man tents, so it was four girls pitching up each tent. Grappling with the frames and layers of fabric in the bright and sunny early afternoon was immensely fun. Amidst all the laughing and frolicking, (do not imagine cute, girly cadets, Reader, for girls who didn't go to school with boys never cared to appear feminine nor poised), some of my friends and I, the seniors, recalled that in addition to making sure the tents were secure and sturdy, we're supposed to dig trenches around them. I can't remember if anyone mentioned - but I remember clearly no one bothered. We were just content that the girls were cheery and obedient and the tents were properly erected, and went on to take care of lunch.

Then, it rained. It didn't just rain, it poured like the sky's been saving up just to amuse itself watching us scamper like frightened puppies into our tents. But something wasn't quite right inside - water collected all around us, and underneath the floor of the tents, so it was all soft, squishy and damp. As the ground turned soggier and the water level rose higher, it was evident that unless we did something, our tents with all our stuff in them would soon be flooded! It was then that we realised that that was the reason we're supposed to dig them trenches - so that when it rains, the water goes into the trench instead of into the tent!

We hurried our juniors into the shaded part of the campsite - a minimally-paved area with a roof - while we went to work. We didn't have any hoes, so we hacked at the ground around each tent the best we could using bits of twigs and whatever we could scavenge from the woods around us. It was still raining. We were panicky, anxious and excited all at once. Although we managed to save all the tents from being flooded, we were absolutely drenched and extremely dirty. In fact, we looked no better than a herd of buffaloes right after rolling about in mud, and we never had a better time in the entire trip. Somehow, there was a time in our lives when making mistakes, then working hard and getting soiled making things right was fun. We even felt sorry for the juniors because we enjoyed ourselves so tremendously while they stayed dry, out of the rain.

There. Of course, there are much more to be told than this episode in the rain and mud, but this suffices for now. How I miss the times when life was so simple - sadness was when friends slight me in moments of thoughtlessness; joy was toiling in the sun or rain with mates, their laughter ringing in my ears.

It is raining, still.


peiteng said...

if u were 17, i would be 16 and i reckon you were referring to the st.john days, no? How come i have no memory of such a camp, ya?? :p

neil said...

Seriously? Surely you'd remember the (in)famous:

"Put your bus in the luggage! I said, PUT YOUR BUS IN THE LUGGAGE!!!"

Or, were you girls too busy obeying to actually notice the exact command? :P