Sunday, 30 November 2008

Japan Camporee Day 5

Today's breakfast was fast and furious! Over 250 people eating in a dining hall that wasn't built for that many. We made it anyway. Today we were out to take on the Environmental Challenges and would be the first in Singapore to complete the World Scout Environment Programme which was to replace the old World Conservation Badge. We would complete the 5 activities for the Cubs Programme as outlined by WOSM:

Scouts are working towards a world where people and natural systems have clean water and clean air. This activity aims to
  • Explore the sources of clean water and clean air in the local environment.
  • Understand the ways water and air are naturally cleaned.
An air pollutant is any unwanted substance or chemical that contaminates the air that we breathe resulting in a decline in air quality. Air pollutants include smoke, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, particulates and ozone.

Air pollutants have sources that are both natural and human. Natural sources includevolcanoes, wildfires, airborne dust, cattle digesting grass and natural radioactive decay. Although some pollution comes from natural sources, most pollution is the result of human activity. The biggest causes are the operation of fossil fuel-burning power plants and automobiles that combust fuel.

Most of the main air pollutants can be harmful to human health. Air pollution is frequently associated with respiratory problems. It can make people sick or cause long-term illness, particularly in those most sensitive to pollution, such as children and the elderly.

There are three ways in which animals can be affected by air pollution. They can breathe in gases or small particles, eat particles in food or water or absorb gases through the skin. Soft-bodied invertebrates, such as earthworms, or animals with thin, moist skin such as frogs, are particularly affected by absorbing pollution.Sources of air pollution and dust often leave residues on the top of exposed leaves. The sticky leaves activity collects these residues. This makes air pollution ‘visible’ and easier to understand. The air pollution in different areas can be compared and related to the source of the pollution.

Scouts are working towards a world where the risk of harmful substances to people and the environment are minimised. This activity aims to help Scouts
  • Be aware of harmful substances in the local environment.
  • Explain ways to reduce the risk of harmful substances to people, plants and animals.
Our planet is surrounded by a blanket of gases. This is our atmosphere. As the sun shines on the earth it sends us heat. Some of this is absorbed by the earth’s surface and some of it bounces back into the atmosphere. The reflected heat is trapped by the atmosphere and this keeps our planet warm. This is known as the greenhouse effect.

The blanket of gases is getting thicker as we release greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels for energy and as we cut down forests for timber and agriculture. Greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. As the blanket gets thicker, the temperature rises. As a result of this, our climate is starting to change.
Scouts are working towards a world where sufficient natural habitat exists to support native species. This activity aims to give Scouts a chance to
  • Explore a local natural area.
  • Discover some of the local native species of plants and animals and their habitat needs.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of some contrasting natural habitats.
Nature can be appreciated using all of our senses. The sense we use the most often to understand our environment is sight but in actual fact we are using our other senses at the same time to help build up the picture of what is around us. By concentrating individually on each of our senses we can gain a better awareness of our local environment.

4 and 5. WHAT HAVE I DONE TODAY / WHAT DISASTER AM I?Scouts are working towards a world where the most suitable environmental practices are
used and where people are prepared to respond to environmental hazards and natural disasters. These activities aim to help Scouts
  • Show awareness of how our actions affect the environment and alternative ways to make a
  • smaller impact.
  • Be able to recognise different types of environmental hazards and natural disasters.
  • Demonstrate how to be prepared and react to environmental hazards and natural disasters
    in the local area.
Every day we do things that impact on the environment. Some things we do are good for the environment and some things we do are bad for the environment. Very often we do things without even being aware of how it affects the environment. This game encourages the Scouts to think about how our daily actions affect the natural world all around us.Natural disasters occur all around the world and can have a devastating effect on the natural environment and on human beings. There are lots of different types of natural disaster, for example, hurricane, tropical cyclone, typhoon, tornado, drought, flood, volcano, landslide, tsunami, heat wave, wildfire, insect plague, famine, health epidemic, avalanche and earthquake.

It is very important that we have an understanding of natural disasters. We need to be prepared to respond to them when they happen to us and to be able to provide support when they happen to others.

After completing the environmental challenges, we headed back to the dining hall for lunch before jumping into our uniforms and proceeding to the gym for "Trading Places". That's the time we have to exchange badges, scarves, woggles and various other Scouting memorabilia.That brought our 2-day camp and combined activities with the Cubs and Scouts of Osaka Scout Council to a close. The closing ceremony was one we all participated in with mixed feelings. It began with a prize presentation ceremony to the Best Troop... It was not an easy decision but the Camp Chiefs and Japanese Leaders finally decided that the Award would go to Beni Zuru. That's us with the Yangzheng team!!! The leaders agreed that we made a good team and should, if possible, be teamed up together again in future!

Congratulations everyone! You did well!

The prize presentation was then followed by a closing address by Madelene San, and the Organising Chairman from the Osaka Scout Council, Kinji San. A token of appreciation was then presented to the Osaka Scout Council which was accepted by Kinji San.The Japanese Cubs and Scouts left soon after as they would have to return to school tomorrow. It was a difficult goodbye, but inevitable. Tomorrow we proceed to the second leg of our Osaka Educational Tour.In the meantime, we will shower, have dinner and prepare for International Night at Kitagata Elementary School.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Japan Camporee Day 4

There was a certain excitement in the dining hall this morning. Everyone ate and cleaned up quickly. Serpent was particularly impressed by the Cubs who have adjusted well to the Japanese discipline, particularly Ryan who now takes initiative to wipe the tables.Ohayogosaimasu Nippon Cub Scouts representing the Osaka Scout Council! After yet another rather wet night, the day began bright and sunny with a weather forecast of 3°C - 13°C. This morning it was a very very cool 7°C. The 136 Japanese Cubs arrived with 8 Scouts, 31 Leaders and 23 Parent Volunteer Scouters. As we gathered for the Flag Break and Welcome ceremony, they removed their coldwear and some were clad only in their shirt and tiny shorts! They were braving the cold while the Singaporean Cubs were rubbing their hands to keep them warm, even in their jackets. Seeing the Japanese Cubs remove their cold wear, the SE Scouts, Serpent, Akita and Dominic (Assistant Scout Leader of Yangzheng's Yueng Ching Open Scout Unit) also decided to brave the cold and remove their jackets.While having short chat with some of the leaders, we found out that the autumn this year is unusually cold. But since the Japanese Cub Scouts are young, energetic and very used to being exposed to the cold, they are able to endure the weather. Their usual school uniforms are also short.Just as the ceremony was about to start, the contingent were all told that as a mark of respect for the state flags of Singapore and Japan, we had to remove our coldwear for a few minutes as we raised the flags and listened to Yoshio San, and Madelene San give the welcome and opening addresses. Both parties were glad to have this chance to spend two days together in a Japanese camp and were all eager to begin the adventure activities.Of course the activities kicked off very soon without a glitch. The Japanese Leaders were in charge today and gosh, they were so prepared and so professional. Today we're out into the great outdoors and enjoying the other side (literally) of the magnificently beautiful campsite we've not seen in the last few days. We were scheduled to complete two adventure station activities before heading back to the dining hall for lunch.First up, the Archery station! It was quite a unique and amazing experience. The bows and arrows were handmade on-the-spot using bamboo and other natural materials. The Cubs had to make their own bows before they can shoot any arrows!After Archery, we moved off to the Outdoor Cooking Station.
This is no ordinary outdoor cooking... its the same food with a Japanese twist! Yes, the bread twist tasted sweet and extra delicious, especially because it is also "marinated" with Japanese and Singaporean fingers. Very nice, really!
That's Sampson showing off his culinary skills and below,
the Japanese leader showing how the poached egg in potato is done.

Meiji tube butter... Otter's favourite.
Of course, Singaporean's love for food never fail to amaze other people...
Along with bread twist, we also had grilled banana with chocolates and poached egg in potato. It was the best outdoor cooking we've ever experienced! It was an eye-opener even for the Scouts who never used to eat so much when they did their own outdoor cooking. Yummy! What better to do next than to go for lunch? Lunch was wonderful... Japanese Curry Rice with vegetable croquette. The dining hall was filled with the excited voices of the Cubs.After lunch, it was time for a walk. Track and trail practically in the woods. While SE Cubs are already very well-versed in Track and Trail, it being done in the woods was differnent great experience, something we can hardly find space to do back in Singapore.Once we were done, we found time to entertain ourselves with a game we invented on-the-spot with the Japanese Cubs while waiting for our turn to go to the last station.The final station for the day was the Telegraphic Pole Shuffle. A test of communication skills, the activity tested our Cub's ability to communicate beyond language barriers, their patience and resilience in difficult situations. Truly they have all shown that they have courage in all difficulties (Scout Law 5). They also learnt that we should not judge a task by looks, and what looks easy isn't always the case. All too often we say too quickly "So easy, I also can do!" only to eat our words later. This was one of those times. :)After the series of adventure activities we were able to communicate a little more with the Japanese Cubs. We prepared for the campfire and rehearsed for our performances for the campfire.

Dinner was sumptuous Teriyaki Chicken and Fried Fish. Once we were full, we were ready to move off. We assembled at 1930 hrs moved off to the campfire circle. Though the temperature was a chilly 6°C, everyone enjoyed themselves. It rained halfway through the campfire for a few minutes but it soon stopped.Despite that, the campfire ended at about 2145 hrs with everyone still in high spirits. We also learned some simple Japanese songs.

We look forward to another fun-filled day tomorrow, the environmental challenges!

This post was composed by Astute Possum.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Japan Camporee Day 3

The day started with breakfast and after cleaning up the dining place, everyone took the bus to ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン Universal Studios Japan (USJ). USJ is a dream-filled theme park where we enjoyed a variety of theme rides inspired by world famous movies, animations and comic series. Here, we experienced the thrill and excitement of the fantastically imaginative worlds of famous blockbuster movies today.
We were already excited when we arrived at the carpark and we could already feel the thrill spreading throughout the bus even before we alighted! Rides such as Hollywood Dream, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and Jurassic Park were enjoyable for both young and old. They left many Cubs, Scouts and Leaders screaming throughout the ride. The main course for lunch for most of us was a grilled Turkey Leg just outside the Jurrasic Park ride. Truly an experience, we felt like carnivourous dinosaurs devouring the huge leg! See me and Godpa trying our best to look like civilized people? Lol!Other then the rides, there were also familiar characters from cartoons like Popeye and Betty Boop, who walked around posing for commemorative photos.Although the Christmas Parade was cancelled due to strong winds, we saw the colossal Christmas tree that was wonderfully decorated. The shops there sold many things that attracted us and we had already started to buy gifts for our family. We also tried Spanish Churros in practically every available flavour such as Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon and Christmas!Look out for more regular updates tomorrow, as we remain in-camp to meet our counterparts from all over Osaka and have two days of combined activities with them.

Oyasuminasai, good night.

This post was composed by Vivacious Otter.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Japan Camporee Day 2

After reveille, we had our breakfast and did our area cleaning to keep the eating area clean as usual. Mind you, the Japanese take cleanliness and hygiene seriously!Following that, 真紅 Beni Troop, which consisted of Yangzheng Cubs and Scouts and Soaring Eagles Cubs, were introduced to our guide for the day, 田中 政之 Masayuki Tanaka San, a Rover Scout as well as Assistant Scout Leader of the Osaka Group No. 11. We took a rather long bus ride to the 天保山ハーバービレッジ Tempozan Harbour Village, arriving at about 10am to visit the famous Osaka Aquarium 海遊館 Kaiyukan. There, we saw otters, sloths, dolphins, penguins, etc. and, the highlight of this aquarium, the whale shark.After the long and enjoyable walk, we went to Tempozan Marketplace for lunch. The foodcourt was simply fantastic with many modern Japanese fusion delicacies, serving western food with a Japanese Twist. Think Mos Burger. Check out the happy Hot Dog eaters and Fiery Serpent's Happy Fries! Of course, there is also traditional Japanese food which we did not opt for.After lunch, Shawn threw some money at a toy shop to try his hand at digging for treasure. ¥1000 for 10 minutes in the sand box. In the end, we realised that he was only allowed to bring home one small piece of "fossil".While Ryan, Samuel tried their hand at throwing 手裏剣 Shuriken. They paid ¥800 for 2 trials and 5 actual throws which would gain them a chance to win some fancy Ninja-themed prizes. The consolation prize was a rubber Shuriken.大坂城 Osaka castle was right after lunch. The castle grounds which cover 60,000 square metres was built in 1496 as a fortified temple. It contain thirteen structures which have been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government. According to history, it was taken over by the warlord 豊臣 秀吉 Hideyoshi Toyotomi to consolidate his hold on the region. The main tower was built only after he took over the castle in 1583, however it was destroyed by lightning in 1665 and was reconstructed in 1928. This, was again destroyed during a war time bombing raid in 1945. The main tower we visited was reconstructed a third time in 1997 and restored to its Edo-Era look, but complete with modern features such as elevators.The main tower is 8 stories high and we had to start from all the way at the top and work our way downwards. The view from the top floor was amazing and there was even a suggested way of walking round the tower top. History of the castle was shown on the 7th floor onwards. It was shown in ancient pictures, artifacts, short videos using holograms, and written text. There was also a small stall renting samurai costumes at ¥300 per set to people for them to try on just for kicks. We marked the end of our visit with a commemorative stamp on our camporee booklets and a really cool photograph.We rushed back to the campsite for dinner curfew which was followed by a warm bath, reflections with Serpent and the Scouts before lights out.Oyasuminasai, good night.

This post was composed by Scintillating Owl.