Main story: In the midst of a small developing township of Bjemina in Thimphu is Bjemina Primary School where about 200 students from the dzongkhag attended the four-day Gyalsey Nachung Camp, the first scout camp organised for younger students.
Students from 10 Thimphu schools gathered at the campsite on the morning of August 31. The camp was dedicated to the Birth of His Royal Highness the Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck.
After a brief introduction to the camp, students were divided into six groups with a coordinator to guide them. The groups were then allocated different areas of the school. Nachung boys started pitching tents near the school football ground while classroom dormitories were allocated to Nachung girls.
Camp handbooks were given to the students to familiarise themselves with camp activities and programmes.
Nachungs began early the next morning. The morning sessions included drills, commands and exercises followed by cleaning of camping areas. Thimphu’s dzongda graced the opening ceremony where he gave a talk on how to be a good citizen by being a good leader with good qualities, which can be learnt from the camp.
The camp then commenced with Nachungs attending the driglam namzha sessions taught by the teachers, followed by a session on first aid skills. Lunch was served at the camp. After the lunch break, Nachungs were involved in spare time activities such as memorising prayers and learning whistle signals, among others. The first day ended with an inter school quiz competition where the winners and runners up were to be awarded with prizes and certificates at the end of the camp.
The second day at the camp began at six in the morning. The scouters started the day with physical exercises. After breakfast, the students gathered in the assembly ground to learn the various scouting exercises, which gave them hands on experience about Nachung scouts.
It was followed by poem recitation competition where the Nachungs were made to recite a poem without referring to a book. It was followed by inter school tsangmo competition where the winners were to be awarded with prizes at the closing ceremony of the camp. Students were thoroughly engaged with such activities and programmes.
After lunch, Nachungs were taken on a hike to Nyidey Rabtenling Monastery, which was aimed to provide environmental awareness. The monastery is located about an hour from the camp. Nachungs were given blessings and also served with refreshments by the monks at the monastery.
The day ended with boedra competition among the students to help them understand the importance of preserving the country’s rich cultural heritage.
The third day started early morning with a whistle blown by the camp coordinators. Nachungs gathered in the assembly ground and attended a session on health and physical education where they were made to roll, run, cross, hop, jump and climb ladders using various improvised materials.
After breakfast, Nachungs attended a talk by a doctor at Bjemina on safety measures, substance abuse and the importance of washing hands before and after meals. Actor Chencho Dorji then gave a talk about the film industry, inspiring the children.
Nachungs displayed craft items made from waste using the knowledge of pioneering or rope works taught at the camp. Their works were judged and evaluated by three judges based on the criteria such as creativity, durability and re-use of the materials.
After lunch, Nachungs gathered again at the assembly ground to rehearse for the closing ceremony. The day ended with a campfire programme where Nachungs danced and sang the night away.
The last day started early for the Nachungs. By 9:30am, they were ready to receive the chief guest, Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, who graced the closing ceremony.
Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck visited the campsite and the Adventure Park, which was created by the scout members.
Coordinator of the camp, a teacher from Genekha Lower Secondary School, Sangay Tenzin, said the closing went well and everybody had a smile on their faces and were happy that the camp was a successful one.
The camp was aimed at providing an avenue for the cub scouters to immerse them into scouting activities, to equip them with scouting knowledge, develop leadership qualities and learn basic social skills, among others, Sangay Tenzin said.
The camp also equipped students with knowledge on segregating garbage, the importance of saving water and reducing the use of plastic bags, treating everyone with dignity and respect, setting an example and being a role model, and the importance of drinking plenty of water, and taking care of themselves.
At the camp, Ngachungs followed a certain code of conduct where they followed the Nachung Scout Law; to be loyal and obedient, to be cheerful, love nature and to follow the scout motto of ‘to do your best’.
They also followed the Nachung scout promise, which was to do their duty to god and the Tsawa-Sum (King, country and people).
They were also taught about the Nachung scout sign (three fingers pointing upwards), which is a universal identity of being a scout, Sangay Tenzin said. “The sign signifies respect, courtesy and identity. This was followed by the Nachung scout handshake using the left hand, which signifies a token of friendship and brotherhood.”
Students were made to wear the Nachung scout uniform during meetings and activities. They were taught how to maintain a neat appearance, to have a sense of belonging, pride, self-respect and good behaviour.
A student from Bjemina Primary School, Tshering Lhamo, said she enjoyed participating in the camp and learnt many new things.
“I learnt how to make reef knot, clove hitch and fisherman knot, and also on how to use a first aid kit for scratches and cuts, which can be helpful for the rest of my life. More than that, I’m happy to have made new friendships. I would terribly miss them,” Tshering Lhamo said.
During the last session of the camp, the Nachungs gathered at the assembly ground one last time and received their advancement badges. The day ended with a departure song and handshake wishing each other well with a hope to meet again one day.
The camp that started from September 1 ended on September 4.