Last weekend, 103 women came together at Maju Camp to participate in the Women's Boot Camp initiated by the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD), organised by Ang Mo Kio Women's Executive Committee and supported by the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC). The first of its kind in Singapore, the camp served to give women a glimpse into what our National Servicemen go through so that they can better relate to the National Servicemen's experiences and this boot camp could not have been more successful.
Day 1 began proper when the participants got their first taste of cookhouse food during lunchtime. Meals finished, the participants started with a visit to Maju Camp Medical Centre, where they learnt more about the medical support and facilities available in the SAF. From our medics' equipment, to the treatment rooms, to the Multi-role Utility Vehicle (MUV) - Support Ambulance, the participants got to see a wide range of the medical facilities in the SAF. The participants also got to try SAF field rations and were shown some of the SAF Personal Equipment used by our Full-time National Servicemen.
Participants being introduced to the equipment used by our medics.
The boot camp really got going when the participant got the chance to hands-on the Singapore Assault Rifle 21 (SAR 21), loading and unloading rounds as well as trying various firing positions to familiarise themselves with the rifle. Needless to say, the participants could not wait to try their hand at firing the rifle.
The participants were also introduced to the basics of military field camp and tried their hand at tying knots and lashes, as well as attempted to set up a Basha. The afternoon rounded off with a session of Metabolic Circuit Training, where the women completed a series of exercises including push-ups, forward lunges and crunches among others.
Warming up for the Metabolic Circuit Training.
Come evening, the participants engaged in a focus group discussion session, where they discussed National Service (NS)-related topics and how they could better support our National Servicemen. Senior Minister of State for Defence, Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman and Deputy Commander, 6th Division, BG (NS) Ishak Bin Ismail were also present that evening.
Dr Maliki engaging the participants during the focus group discussion.
Fast forward to Day 2 of the Women's Boot Camp, participants tried out perhaps the most iconic part of NS training - the Standard Obstacle Course. From the Rubble, to the Low Rope, to the Terrace, the participants were able to get a taste of what every soldier must surpass. As part of NS basic training, participants also went through the Dispatcher Assisted first REsponder (DARE) training where they learnt how to administer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and use the Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
Rising up to the challenge!
Overcoming all obstacles!
Participants practising their CPR techniques.
The NS experience would not be complete without a route march. Walking around Maju Camp, the participants got a glimpse into the combat lives of our soldiers, and halfway through the march, the participants even completed a casevac drill. Fittingly, the boot camp training ended with SAR 21 firing where the participants finally got to fire blank rounds.
The casevac drill is simulated by carrying a stretcher with a water-filled jerry can.
One of the participants of the Women's Boot Camp is Madam Koh Wee Min whose son recently enlisted in August. Wanting to find out more about Basic Military Training and allay some of the concerns she had on training safety, Madam Koh eagerly signed up. For her, this boot camp was very beneficial because she learned about many aspects of NS. "I think this two-day experience was very enriching for me, very enlightening. It's information-rich, it's action-packed, it's not just a glimpse, but a bit more insight into what the National Servicemen go through. Before we start any activity, I could see that the trainers all go through safety steps, drinking up, checking the Risk Assessment Checklist (RAC), and so on. I could really tell that safety is paramount, and that is really very reassuring. I'm also very impressed with the facilities in the medical centre - the treatment bed, the cooling down procedures if they need it, the ambulance which can take up to four people. I could see that the welfare and safety of the National Servicemen are taken good care of", she said.
For Madam Koh, one of her key takeaways from the camp was that National Servicemen deserve more support from the community. "From the camp, I got to know a little more Army lingo, that I can't cross the parade ground without marching because it's sacred and many other things. For my son, I can now support him better emotionally because I understand what he's going through. It also really dawned on me that this boot camp is not all fun and games; there is a lot at stake. The National Servicemen train tirelessly to defend our home, and shed blood, sweat and tears for us. To keep the sovereignty of our nation, we need not only the National Servicemen, but also the community and the family to support them."
Madam Koh Wee Min.
One of the youngest participants is Ms Athi Ramesh Athirah, 13, who signed up for the Women's Boot Camp under the encouragement from her father who is a volunteer with the SAFVC. She shared that she was impressed by the training regimens in the SAF. "I was very concerned about safety for training because I had a lot of misconceptions about NS life - that it was challenging and that training was very tough. But after I came here, I was really impressed by the standards here because every morning they take your temperature and before every strenuous activity, they have a water parade and the RAC to see how we were feeling that day. So I was awed by my trainers because they displayed a very high standard of training", she said.
Having gone through the boot camp and gaining a better understanding of what NS life is like, Ms Athi added that she is now better equipped to help her peers and brother when they eventually enter NS. "I will be able to support them when they enlist, and I have a younger brother who will be enlisting in another seven years. Now that I know what training is like and how trainers conduct their training, I can support my brother better when he enlists. Now, I can assure him that he should try his best because I know that his trainers will take care of his well-being and he should just focus on serving the nation, which is the most important part of NS", she added.
Ms Athi Ramesh Athirah (2nd from left) with her family.
SV2 May Tan was one of those who helped put the Women's Boot Camp together, and was the Supporting Trainer for Platoon 1 Section 2. Having gone through the same training herself during her Basic Training, SV2 Tan expressed that it was very enlightening to now be the trainer rather than the trainee. "One of the most memorable parts of the camp was the preparation - working with trainers from different units, and all the other section trainers. The experience was overall very heartwarming because people from different units came together, planned everything and worked out the training for the participants, making sure training was safe and organised" she said.
To SV2 Tan's surprise, one of the most difficult aspects of the camp was the fact that the participants were extremely enthusiastic about taking part in the various trainings. She added that "we are very encouraged by their overwhelming response. They wanted to try out everything, but we needed to ensure that all activities were conducted safely for them so that they can still experience what our guys go through but in a controlled manner. I think after this experience, they can now better understand what their boyfriends, husband or sons go through, so I think they will be able to appreciate NS better after this journey."
SV2 May Tan, Supporting Trainer for the Boot Camp.
Written By: CPL Marcus Teo
Photography By: CPL Brandon Kit