On 17th November 2018, Tzu Chi Teenager’s Class held a one-day camp, which consisted of an outing in the morning followed by a series of indoor activities in the afternoon. Early in the morning, there were heavy downpours in many districts across the island, and some of the students were worried that the much anticipated outdoor activity might be cancelled due to the rain.
Despite the wet weather, everyone carried on with the outing, travelling to Henderson Waves Bridge and Hort Park in four buses. Fortunately, the rain had dissipated and the sky had become clear upon their arrival.
Then, the Tzu Shaos (students of the Teenagers’ Class) were divided into six teams to conquer a quest that was inspired by the reality show “The Amazing Race”. At each of the game stations, there was a station master who explained the game’s rules to the participants and each of the teams had to successfully complete the challenge and obtain a pass to proceed to the next station.
This outdoor activity was designed by the Tzu Ching seniors (graduated members of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association), with the objective of recapping the teachings of The 37 Practices to Enlightenment and The Noble Eightfold Path. The Tzu Shaos have learned these teachings in class in the past one year, and each of the games revolved around one or multiple topics based on the teachings.
For example, the team on Henderson Wave Bridge learned to practise the spirit of Right View, Right Mindfulness and Right Effort (from The Noble Eightfold Path) as they took on an environmental challenge. They were tasked to spread the message of environmental protection to passers-by, such as morning joggers or tourists, by sharing with the latter the eco-knowledge they had learned in class.
Under the encouragement and guidance of their mentors, the Tzu Shaos overcame their psychological barriers, such as fear and embarrassment, and courageously approached passers-by to share about environmental protection and eco-vegetarianism with them. Their brave efforts won the support and appreciation of many people.
At another game station, the participants were grouped into teams of three. A member in each team was blindfolded while having to brave through a series of obstacles to arrive at the opposite end. Another member faced the blindfolded person with his or her back while giving out instructions based on the gestures of the third member. The blindfolded team member needed to listen very attentively as he moved forward according to the instructions.
In the afternoon, the students returned to Tzu Chi’s Jing Si Hall in Pasir Ris, where the camp was inaugurated. To kick-start the session, they sang the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth anthem and their camp song titled, “Little Giant”. After that, they were divided into small groups, and the members in each group sat in a small circle to share their experiences in the morning, including how they practised The Noble Eightfold Path during the game session, and how they could implement the teachings in daily life.
Expressing heartfelt love and gratitude
The one-day camp was the last class for the students of the Tzu Chi Teenagers’ Class in 2018. The Tzu Shaos were grateful for the patient guidance from their mentors over the year. They were also thankful to the various teams of volunteers who had contributed selflessly to make the event a success. There were volunteers in charge of food and beverage, transport, cleaning, etc.
Each of the students was given four “thank you cards”, two to be addressed to volunteers and two for their teammates. Everyone thought carefully about what they were going to write on the cards before penning down heartfelt words of gratitude and appreciation.
The Tzu Shaos also shared their life stories and experiences in a moving sharing session. One of them was Li Yanrong, who shared that he used to be “a quitter” who would quit easily whenever he encountered setbacks and that he would often argue with others and lose his temper over something unimportant. After joining the Tzu Chi Teenagers’ Class, he learned that “forgiving others is actually being kind to oneself”. He also developed positive thinking and learn to “do what is right” in life, and gradually, he found that others were beginning to treat him better.
“Thanks to the guidance from our mentors. I am now more confident of myself. Tzu Chi not only teaches us humanistic values, but also how we can contribute to charity. This is where I learn how to get along with others,” said Bai Kai, who has been in the Teenagers’ Class for six years.
His deepest impression of volunteering with Tzu Chi was his experience selling flowers at the annual Festive Charity Fair. It gave him a sense of achievement. Bai Kai also expressed his gratitude for the senior volunteers’ patient guidance and companionship.
"I want to thank our mentors for their meticulous care and support, the food and beverage team for preparing delicious food for us, and also the teachers for teaching us the right values. In short, I want to thank everyone for looking after us this year. Thank you," said Wu Kai Xiang.
He also shared his thoughts about the teachings of The Noble Eightfold Path—Having “Right Mindfulness” meant that one should not hold grudges, and “Right Livelihood” meant not taking up unwholesome habits, such as smoking under the influence of friends.
As the camp came to a close, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi Singapore Tan Chai Hoon encouraged the Tzu Shaos to live life to the fullest while they are young. He added that youth is a time when life is full of vitality, so the youngsters should take practical steps to unleash the power of youth, and seize hold of the time to do good so as to lead a meaningful life.