Just a little over a day ago, I completed my first “high-key” (two week) ICT or “in-camp-training”. It’s been four years since I ORD’ed (i.e. left the army), so you can imagine how rusty I was in these matters. Just so you know, I’m one ICT short of most of my peers, having deferred my first due to my study commitments.
This ICT felt like a very condensed version of my two years in the army (serving my mandatory two-year national service). The days before I booked in were one of the worst I’ve had, as I constantly worried how everything was going to turn out (there were plenty of “unknowns”) — I wasn’t sure if I brought everything that I needed to bring; if I’d be with my old army mates; if the expectations of NSFs were present in the reservists; all that sort of thing.
But these fears were largely allayed from the moment I stepped into the camp and started seeing familiar faces. Friend after friend and acquaintance after acquaintance showed up and acknowledged me. People I hadn’t seen in years felt like close friends, and laughter flowed easily. The camaraderie between most of us was a pleasant surprise to me, though on hindsight having a common peeve — serving natural service — naturally brought us closer together.
The first week passed without much incident, with the highlight probably my pocketing a handsome $200 for my IPPT silver (and the realisation that I hadn’t quite lost it since I ORD’ed). The real stresses came from my civilian life — text messages related to work flowed in quite endlessly, and it was the first time in a long time that I seriously reconsidered my career options.
During the second week, we all went to Pulau Tekong for a four-day field camp. We were up against an active unit, who were using us as practice before their major exercise later this year. This field camp was ridiculously uncomfortable, with the main peeves of mine being the infinite mosquitoes/insects and the ridiculously heavy 84mm weapon I had to lug around.
The last night was especially unbearable, when we spent almost nine hours getting to our attacking objective (we started our march at midnight, and arrived for the attack at about 9am the next morning). By the time I got back to camp I was so exhausted I could hardly lift the 84 off the ground, and my body felt like it was hit by a bus, after it had been bulldozed and steamrolled.
But that’s not to say it was all that bad. It’s unbelievable how knowing that others are suffering with you, and supporting you in some way or another (like all my friends were), the pain was made that much more bearable. I really don’t know what I’d do if they were around, giving me respite from the physical and mental abuse I’d been put through.
PS: I’d also like to add that throughout the whole ICT I’d been texting and calling my fiancee, who provided me with fantastic support. I knew that if things ever got too bad, I could always rely on her to help make things more manageable again!