The most memorable event in BMT (Basic Military Training) for all NSFs and NSmen is the field camp: for the first time in our lives, we would be thrown into a jungle for days without shelter, reasonable food and a bed, and be thrown with all kinds of obstacles from commando-trained mosquitoes, random enemy attacks and crazy sergeant tekans.
But of course, it’s through these hardships that we learn skills that stay with us forever. And ever.
Learning to sleep with eyes open
If you ever wonder why some male Singaporeans can sleep with their eyes open, it’s a skill acquired during field camps. And when they sleep, they can stand without leaning on a wall. Oh, by the way, if you see his arms in an awkward position, that’s because he still thinks he’s holding on to his SAR21.
Learning to stare into blank spaces for hours
Recruits are made to stay on the ground and aim their rifle at absolutely nothing for hours—that’s how we learn how to keep our mind occupied while doing nothing. Not even making a single noise.
Learning how to wake up with the sound of a drop of water
Random enemy attacks at night are part of the training, and having to get ready to battle within one second is second nature to them. This is why some of us are light sleepers—because we’re trained to kill once we hear something, if not we’ll be killed.
Learning that showering with water is a privilege
Showering with snake powder is already good enough for some of us. And for many of us who went on to our units, we don’t even want to powder bath.
Learning that shampooing really does make your hair softer
Have you ever had hair so dry that when you put your hand on your head, you thought it’s a stone? To recruits, they’ll think that it’s a durian. Going through days without shampoo shows us how important shampooing is.
Learning that you’re always not performing to the best of your capability
It’s through field camp that limits are broken, that we realise we’re better than what we have expected of ourselves. I mean, before that, we won’t have expected that we could survive without having freshly cooked food for two days.
Learning that everything is in the mind
Pain is nothing if you tell yourself that you can do it. Just check out CyberpioneerTV’s YouTube channel on how some recruits nearly lost their mind and cried, and realised later that everything is all in the mind.
I’ll like to emphasise this: while the field camp teaches us how to survive in a real jungle, it also teaches us how to survive in an urban jungle.
Social interaction, politics and people management skills are put to the test when you have to live with a group of people with limited resources in an unfamiliar territory.