It was a weekend unlike any other for Madam Patsy Chong.
The 61-year-old was given a SAR 21 gun to fire, to tackle the standard obstacle course, to make a short march route and to sleep in a military cage.
She was one of 103 women who "booked" last Saturday at Maju Camp in Clementi for a ladies' camp to experience what the National Service (NS) looks like.
The overnight camp, which cost $ 55 per person and saw more than 1,000 applicants competing for around 100 seats, was organized by the Ang Mo Kio Women's Executive Committee. It was an initiative of the Advisory Council for Community Relations in Defense (Accord).
Madam Chong was one of the oldest participants. But age and health – she undergoes treatment for breast cancer – were not a deterrent for the mother of four.
"I am very happy that I came, I can see that this is a very challenging job," said the freelance enrichment teacher and active dragon boat.
"Although I have three sons who have been to NS, they have not told me much about what they do in the camp," she said.
Her favorite activity was shooting with the SAR 21 rifle. "It's tough, and to shoot down your enemy, you have to have accuracy, judgment and focus," she said.
The age of the youngest participant
The age of the oldest participant
For two days the women got a glimpse – and taste – of NS's life. They learned to evacuate wounded platoon pangs, to navigate on the standard obstacle course and to go on a short march route. They ate in the cookhouse and slept in military cages.
The first day started at 10 am and ended only at 11 am. The next day started early at 6 am.
The youngest participant was 13 years old and the oldest was 64. The average age was 29. Some signed in with friends and family members and a few brave members came alone.
Athi Ramesh Athirah, 13, was encouraged by her father, a member of the Singapore Voluntary Corps, to join the camp.
"He asked if I was interested because I had already told him that I did not want a job and wanted to be a regular customer," said the student Secondary 1 at the Raffles Girls & # 39; School.
Mrs. Joanna Portilla, Chairman of the Ang Ma Kio Women's Executive Committee, said the committee hopes to organize similar events in the future. Because of the overwhelming reaction to the camp, the organizer had to keep a vote.
"Women are the backbone of support, especially when their husbands, sons or brothers start training or being called into the camp," she said.
Senior Minister of Defense Maliki Osman, who is co-chair of Accord, joined the participants in a dialogue. "I am glad that many of you come from different layers of the population, different professions, different professions, and what binds us together is this strong desire to learn more about what we can do to support NS," he told them. .
Some said that they had left the camp yesterday with a better appreciation for the requirements of NS.
Balloon sculptor and event organizer Brenda Eng, 31, joined her mother, sister and aunt. "We come from a female-dominated family, so now if my cousin takes home a friend who is in the army … I'll tell my cousin that if he has to go back to serve, then please (leave him) go back and serve, "she said. "Tell him not to participate in our family gatherings, because he may be super tired."