244 student campers to ‘Get A Life, Live The Dream’ at 8th Youth Communication Camp

Campers working together to get through an obstacle course.

KUCHING, Sept 13: The 8th Youth Communication Camp (YCC) from Sept 14-16 at Kem Putra Sentosa, Sematan will mark a new milestone for organiser Kuching Toastmasters Club.

Not only has the camp’s organising committee been able to register 244 campers, which makes the 8th YCC the biggest to date, but for the very first time, the camp will also host participants from Mukah, according to a press release. All in all, there are 40 schools involved this year. The registered campers are students in Form 4 to 6, and come from various districts in the state including Kuching, Kota Samarahan, Bau, Padawan, Lundu, and now Mukah.

To help run the camp this year, there are more than 60 volunteers involved as facilitators, who are mostly members of Toastmasters Clubs from Kuching, Kuala Lumpur and overseas including Canada, Nigeria, India and U.K.

The 8th YCC is under the purview of the President of Kuching Toastmasters Club, Wee Pei Chai, and its Organising Chairman is club member Sahil Singh Dev. The Principal Facilitator of this Camp, meanwhile, is Mike Lim, a former President of the Club and author of the renowned book on public speaking “Public Speaking: Uncle Mike’s Recipe”.

The organising committee is also proud about the diversified racial mix at its camp this year, which comprise 31 per cent Malays, 30 per cent Chinese, 17 per cent Ibans, 14 per cent Bidayuhs, 5 per cent Melanaus and 3 per cent of other ethnicities. Of these, 103 are male and 141 are female campers.

Facilitators and campers at the 7th Toastmasters Youth Communication Camp in 2018.

With its motto, ‘Get a life and live the dream’, YCC has touched the lives of more than 1,500 campers since its inception in 2012, while always remaining true to its three main thrusts: public speaking, teamwork, and leadership development and talent showcasing.

To date, YCC remains the only camp in East Malaysia focussing primarily on public speaking which is also much aligned to the spirit of Toastmasters International. Campers are trained on how to construct a speech while highlighting the importance of substance and logical development.

Students are also trained on how to deliver a speech, using eye contact, body language and voice projection. The main feature on the third day of the camp is a speech competition, better known as ‘Lend Me Your Ears’, which features 12 finalists. The two categories of the competition are Prepared Speech and Impromptu Speech Competitions, and the winner of the competition bags the YB Karim Hamzah Challenge Shield.

The shield is named after the camp’s patron, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who is the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports for Sarawak. Since the camp’s inception in 2012, Abdul Karim has been its staunch supporter and has made a point to attend the camp every year despite his busy schedule. Aside from his heartfelt presence, he has also supported the organising committee both morally and financially for each year.

Participants preparing and practising their speeches, with guidance from facilitators.

The camp also adopts a ‘fun learning’ approach and trains campers on honing their leadership skills. The campers are taken through various training drills, which includes team bonding exercises, obstacle courses, flying fox, abseiling and the like. It is also the very reason why each camper has to hand over their mobile phone on the very first day of the camp, which is only returned on the third day before they leave for their homes. Whilst it may seem discomforting at first, campers are often appreciative of this experience as they are forced to mingle and socialize with their fellow campers.

Campers also get the opportunity to showcase their talents in what is known as the ‘Oscar Night’, which takes place at the end of the second day of the camp. Despite having only a few hours to produce an item and practice as groups, the facilitators are always left astounded with the performances the campers stage together. The campers are able to produce creative performances ranging from musical shows, drama and dance performances and much more.

Campers exchanging ideas in a group discussion.

The approximate cost to host a camper for the 3-day-2-night camp is RM400 which includes the cost of accommodation, meals, T-shirts, insurance and transportation amongst others. The fee for each camper, however, is heavily subsidised as they only pay RM90. This is an intended strategy by the Organising Committee to accommodate students from all backgrounds.

To make turn this dream into a reality, though, the organising committee can only thank its generous patron, Abdul Karim, and its corporate sponsors, namely, Yayasan Petronas, Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad, Quality Concrete Berhad, Sarawak Energy Berhad, Sacofa Sdn Bhd and Yayasan Sarawak.

“Campers may not necessarily become world-class speakers after attending the camp for just three days, but we are quietly confident that we have opened up a new door for an aspiring young adult coming from our society. We believe that this 3-day Camp can inspire them towards a course in life and, most of all, it will motivate them to ‘Get a Life and Live the Dream’,” said camp organising chairman Sahil. — DayakDaily