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29 June 2006

Back From Camp; 1001 Feelings And Reflections

I just got back from camp. Back from 'reprogramming' myself. Back from going out wild in the outdoors. Back from stepping outside my safe haven of computers and comfy chairs. And back home like a fisherman's ship that returns to the harbor after harvesting the riches of the ocean.

I have always treasured experience. Never mind what sort of experience. Oh, there are some that I dislike. Those I do not look for. Yet if they come, I will accept and make it part of 'programming' myself as adDa'ie and a mu'min. In relation to that I now know I will cherish the memories and lessons learnt in the past week of struggling to better myself.

The past holiday I have oft found myself in a state of declining fluctuation. Constantly going up and down between high and low points of iman. And even in that state, the high points tend to get lower as time moves on. I became immersed at a point in a state of confused depression.

I had a few projects to get done, and yet due to this depression, I was taking a lot of time. Conflicts were building up inside. A building friction between the urgent sense of need to get things done and another feeling of need to get away and let go.

Until last week... A whole week and a day of rethinking; restructuring thoughts and filters and rebuilding whole again my iman.

In the past years... I have always tried to get away from such kinds of programs. I have always felt sufficient. Felt an arrogance that blocked me from seeing that nothing is ever sufficient in building iman. You can never have sufficient iman. You can never have sufficient things that drive you to Allah. You must always try for more. Yet... I felt that way.

Somehow this year that feeling escaped me. Maybe the urgent need to reform myself opened my eyes to see what was right. Maybe I did something I thought was small and inconsequential but helped me in a way to gain Allah's Hidayah. But whatever it is... This year I felt a certain relief and happiness to be able to join the whole camp. The whole length of it. Even the nights.

The first part of the camp were indoor activities, which had the guys camping at my old home. The house that I now refer to as The Old House at Desa. Or simply The Old House. There were about 8-10 people most of the time there. And the great thing was that the internet was also still there. Therefore I could also go about my Iqra' obligations to communicate to the others (who were not there) without having to leave the programme much.

The whole week passed with a kind of tranquility. In contrast, it was also quite fun. In that, I mean the getting together and doing all this together between brothers of the same faith who accept and understand the same path. We sometimes joked around. We ta'arufed more with each other. Getting to know each better than before. We also got to know the habits of each other. Said in Malay: kami berukhuwwah bersama.

The last part of the week was an outdoor camp. The destination not told to us even on the morning of departure to wherever it is. The reason: we had to go find the camp spot ourselves. The first activity module happened to be something like an explorative journey/treasure hunt. Something like the reality shows 'The Amazing Race' or Malaysia's 'Explorace' without the fancy prizes and the competition.

We had to go and find certain checkpoints located all over the state of Johor. And then there were tasks at each of these checkpoints. We were tested on our PR abilities, our creativity, our guts, our financial management, our street wisdom, our knowledge and I believe whole array more of other things. A fun experience. And a one to spark reflection and pondering. You know how I was ranting on The Importance of Da'wah Fardiyyah before? Well, at the time we were forced to apply the first part of it; approaching the mad'u. So it was like I said... A very reflective experience.

When we arrived at Teluk Gorek, Mersing (yes, the final destination was Mersing), we set up camp, prepared dinner, solat Maghrib and 'Isya' (jama'-ed), had the lessons-learnt section for the day's activity and commenced on to the night activity: Penghayatan Malam. For those of you who do not know me, I am a facilitator of KRj Johor, and I gone through a range of Penghayatan Malam modules. Yet I have never experienced Penghayatan Malam as such that I went through that night. I can only say that much.

The next day brought the most tiring activity of all: Orienteering And Jungle Trekking. Man did I really find out how unfit I was... The only consolation I had, was that my team was a jovial and light mooded one. Nothing like the serious and win-oriented teams some people tend to form. All the way through jungle and sea and hill we went together without a trace of enmity and friction. I have been in teams before doing the same kinda thing but without the light mood. It was like a team from hell. Waiting to explode on a wrong remark. So I was very glad that my team was very much the opposite.

Everyone in our team gave their cooperation in finding our way to the orienteering checkpoints. Everyone balanced each other's spirits. Everyone contributed ideas. Everyone helped search for clues that we had to find. Everyone offered knowledge. Everyone offered their comprehension. It was all very well that we all managed to enjoy the trek through the fatigue of climbing the hill. It was all well that we managed to endure the trip and gain success in the end.

When we came back to camp, there was ample time to rest and regain part of our spent energy. We had come back much earlier than was expected by the organizers. Something like 5-6 hours or so earlier (with the exception of 2 groups both of which had their own casualties). We spent that time relaxing and taking a dip the the sea. And we also spent it replenishing our depleted energy resources.

That night the organizers got something going for the guys. Initially I thought it was gonna some night jungle trek. I wasn't so fascinated with the idea, what with already having dried myself and not having gotten over the fatigue from the day's toil. But when it was mentioned that there was gonna be a kind of war game, I became excited and suddenly I felt rejuvenated. I was always fascinated of the tactics and strategies in warfare. They always relate to life in certain ways. The concepts, the principles, the philosophies, the application. All of it reflects the wisdom in which we handle our lives.

Maybe that is also why I have also been a fan of Counter Strike (the computer game) since stepping out of school. Yet playing Counter-Strike gives only a virtual experience. There is not much room for feeling for yourself the thrill of pitting your intelligence and courage against that of your enemy in person. There In the war game however, you can include yourself in the experience and there exists a thrill of a certain amount in betting yourself in the game. If you lose, you lose. And if you die, you die.

The best part of the war game though is devising a strategy and putting in in action. You can only imagine the great feeling you get when you pull off something you planned yourself. We played two rounds. The details can be viewed here.

The next day, we were given a crisis situation. Heck, what else to follow up war games?

We were all blindfolded. Pushed into 4 separate vehicles. 2 ikhwah vehicles and 2 akhawat. Then we were sent to unknown locations. When we arrived (approximately at 8:45 am), we were told to take off the blindfolds. We then received a piece of paper containing requirements to get us out of crisis. The requirements are as below, and to be done by 12 pm:
  • 1/2 kg of fish
  • Some batteries
  • 2 bungkus of nasi dagang
  • Transportation back to camp is on your own

Now THAT got our brains storming. We pondered these requirements a while. Myself, i was kinda expecting something like this. I saw and heard some hints the day and night before and then I have heard this kinda activity from a coursemate of mine in UTM. So I wasn't really surprised.

Not long after, the other group arrived. The immediate action was to combine forces. We were in essence still two teams as the task required that we fulfil it in two teams. But then there never was a prohibition of cooperation. So we coordinated our efforts.

It so happened that the other team's requirements were also the same as ours with the exception of the batteries. They had to find a roll of film in its place. So we decide that our group would go and find fishes (1 kg for 2 teams) and batteries, and the other would go for 4 nasi dagang and film. On top of that, we all had to try and collect money for the bus ride.

We split up looking for chances of gaining funds and money plus chances of acquiring the required items at the cheapest price or none. Our group went towards the market and explored the shops while the other stayed and explored the bus station area.

We found out that one kind of fish cost only RM2 per kg. And with rough estimates, we came to the conclusion that the cheapest kind of batteries would cost approximately the same. So we now have our targets.

Our first job was acquired at a roadside gerai. The owner was very courteous and pleasant. When we said we needed to get money, he gave us something to do, and paid in advance. All we had to do was to sort out the garbage pile so as the area behind his gerai would not be so messy and the garbage would easily be picked up by the garbage disposal. He also offered free drinks for us all. From him, we acquired about RM8.

During that time, we sent Fared to go meet up with the other team at the arranged time (10 am). Fared returned and reported that the other guys had acquired their items. He also said that getting derma was a more feasible way of getting money in such a short time. He also reported that the bus to the junction to Tanjung Resang cost RM2. Besides that, he also bought the fish with the advance money. We finished up at the gerai and went straight to looking for more prospects of getting money.

After that, we continued on looking for other chances. Me and Khubaib went from shop to shop asking for any small donation. Not many were willing to spare even 1 or 2 ringgit. Until we arrived at this rather muslim shop. It was also at that shop that we decided to change tactics. We explained fully who we were, what we were doing, and asked for a job. And if he could not offer us any or direct us to someplace that can offer any, we hoped that he could offer a bit of a donation. A ringgit or two would do. So he said that he knew not any jobs offered around there, and he'll just donate a few ringgit. The few he gave was RM10, which was a substantial amount for us. May Allah bless him and murahkan rezekinya.

Then we went to meet the others for the second meeting at 10.30 am. We then split our group. I went with Ihsan to wherever his group was. The others went to find more donations and get the batteries. I went to split the fish and the nasi dagang.

When I met up with the rest of the others, I was frankly surprised at their situation. They were lounging relaxedly at this small gerai chatting with the owner and just finishing up their cold Milo drinks and lunch. My first impression was that they had acquired so much money that they could get all that. I was wrong. As soon as I stepped in into the gerai the owner immediately told me to sit and she'll make a drink for me. She did. And she also provided some food for me to eat. I was flabbergasted. I never expected this kind of courtesy! Besides I was rather ashamed to eat out of her daily source of income (which was food - she sells 'em). So I tried to take the least costly lauk.

I guess when my teammates arrived they got the same impression as I had when I arrived. The owner, Makcik Kamisah (if I heard right), took no time to usher them to sit down and provide them the same as what she provided to us who came before. And as I was, they were flabbergasted.

Then it came time to leave. We said thanks and went on the bus. On the bus, all of us got a discount, because the other group had helped to clean the bus companies front area. It was no meager discount though. They something like 25% off. So instead of RM2 per person, we paid only RM1.50 per person. I was like... Wow.

After all that, we can only pray for the well-being of each and everyone who lent their hand and helped us. Makcik Kamisah, Makcik Zainab (another makcik the other group befriended), the bro who gave us something to do and paid in advance, the kind shop owner who donated the RM10. May Allah bless them all. May Allah provide them with a place in His paradise.

Supercamp taught me a lot of things. It also reminded me a lot of things I had forgotten. And besides that, it helped renew my resolve. Islam is the solution for mankind. And as adDa'ie, I must open the idea to others. This I hold now with resolve and I pray that Allah will give me strength to hold on to that resolve.


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