My Trip to Singapore
2010 Friendship Camp
On the morning of December 6, my family and I were on our way to San Antonio International Airport where I would take a flight to Chicago and meet up with Alex. I was nervous and excited all at the same time. The opposite emotions became one giant bundle of adrenaline charged nerves. I was terrified about traveling half-way across the world alone and leaving my family behind, yet incredibly excited about being one of two teenagers to represent my country at the Singapore 2010 Friendship Camp.
When I got to Chicago, I met up with Alex and we were soon on our way to Hong Kong. Unfortunately we arrived late in Hong Kong and therefore got to Singapore at about 1:30 in the morning. Despite the jet lag and exhaustion, I managed to wake up five hours later and begin my week at the Friendship Camp.
The first day of camp, I met my group and group leader. The other fourteen kids in my group were incredible, and their personalities were as different as the countries from which they came: Singapore, Oman, Austria, Norway, Lithuania, Australia, and Korea. We did a couple of team building games like cup stacking and interviewing to break the ice and build networks with other people.
Day two of the Friendship Camp, I decided to participate in archery for my Sport Development Activity. Despite nearly hitting a squirrel, I had a lot of fun learning tips and tricks of the ancient sport. Later in the evening we had a “Chat With Champions” in which four Olympians from different countries answered our questions about being Olympians such as what it felt like to represent their countries and what their inspiration was. Seeing the champions made me realize just how much I wanted to become an Olympian for my sport and country.
Day three began with a tour of Little India, while the rest of my group went to their Island Activity. While on our tour, we learned about the Indian culture such as how flowers are hung in shops to bring prosperity to the business. We visited some of the mosques and temples and learned that Singapore means Lion Port, which is why the lion is so significant a figure in the country. We ended the day with a tour of the Marina Barrage, a reservoir built at the mouth of the Marina Channel. We visited the Marina’s museum and learned how the Marina Barrage works and also how to conserve water.
On day four, I accompanied my group on another tour of Little India and the Marina Barrage. After our tour, we had a social night at which we made scrapbooks with our groups and got to know one another even more. By the end of the night, I was closer with my group than I had been before and knew that even though we were separated by thousands of miles, these people would remain great friends.
On the fifth and final day of the camp, we started off by playing games and socializing with friends. In the afternoon, we all got on a bus and we weren’t told where we were going. When we got off the bus, we were told we were going to plant trees and weed them. We each got a couple of trees to plant and then weeded two. Although at first I was skeptical as to what the point of this was, I soon realized that we were helping to make Singapore greener and afterwards, I felt great about contributing to the greenness of Singapore. When we got back from our community project, we attended the closing ceremony and world festival. At the closing ceremony, there was a band, ballet dancers, a group of dancers who performed a Chinese/Indian/modern dance, a break dance group, and a dragon dance. We watched a video of the camp afterwards and ate native Singaporean food. We all had a great time eating, talking, and just having fun!
The next morning, I came home. And although I was excited to be back in my country with my family, a part of me felt like I was leaving my new family behind. I made so many great friends in the five days I was in Singapore and I began to see them as my brothers and sisters. Even when I was home in my bed, in my house, I couldn’t help but think about them and what they were doing. The Singapore Friendship Camp was a life-changing experience for me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I am deeply grateful to the United States Olympic Committee and the Community Olympic Development Program for allowing me the amazing opportunity and honor of representing my country. The kids I met will always hold a special place in my heart and I can only hope that some day, I will see them again.