By Alex Chien and Lucas Loh
As part of the troop's aim to establish well-rounded scouts, the scouts gathered to participate in the Venture Obstacle Journey (VOJ) conducted by the Ventures on the 29th of February. The VOJ would put a scout's skills to the test, ranging from knotting skills to teamwork and agility. There were 8 stations in total, each offering a unique obstacle for the patrols to overcome. The main focus of this VOJ was to inculcate a strong sense of self and perseverance in the Scouts. Through these obstacles, the scouts got to know themselves through their own abilities and learned the importance of perseverance, working together to put the troop at the top.
First, the Rope Traverse obstacle. The Scouts were tasked with crossing a river using a single rope. The main method the scouts learned to use was the Monkey Climb, with advanced climbers learning the Commando Crawl method. This obstacle demanded both skill and grit, as the scouts learned how to coordinate their body best to climb the rope in the shortest possible time, becoming more aware of their physical capabilities. They also had to endure rope burn and the physical strain of having to climb upside down, much like the determination needed to put the troop at the top.
Second, the Sotong Station was another rope course that demanded Scouts ascend a thick rope (Sotong) with their bare hands and legs. The Scouts quickly learned the proper technique of ascending this rope, using the feet to anchor the rope, then proceeding to use the legs to push one's body upward. Although it seemed like an easy task, it proved to be a difficult one, again requiring both grit and skill to master their body and ascend the rope. Through this experience, the Scouts saw that with the proper guidance and training, they were able to surmount any task the troop prepared them for.
Third, Sourgrapes. Sourgrapes is a traditional scouting game that involves climbing a wooden pole and hanging one's scarf at the tip of the pole. This station requires good grip strength of not only the hands but the knees. It also required a great level of skill in balance and self-control, not intimidated by the sheer height of the wood, in order to place their scarfs at the top of the pole with the support of their patrols. However, the person climbing can only get as far as his patrol mates supporting him, with the whole patrol supporting and keeping the pole steady. The Patrol got to know itself better, what they can achieve together, and, the Scouts literally put the troop at the top of the pole by striving and trying their hardest to hang their scarf up on top.
Fourth, the Commando Crawl station required the scouts to crawl from one end to the other without touching any strings that were tied across the entire obstacle course. Scouts had to exercise full awareness of their bodies, to control and restrict each movement below the wire, something achieved only through self-awareness. Other than flexibility and agility, this station also required teamwork and planning - one had to plan the route he was to take before attempting to overcome the obstacle. Subsequently, the patrol members had to guide the scout, ensuring he was taking the right path while attempting the course. Through the course of the obstacle, the Scouts learned to work together to achieve success for the Patrol, putting the troop at the top.
Fifth, the Electric fence puts a scout's flexibility to the test. Scouts had to jump from one end to the other, without touching any rope that was across them. Scouts again had to exercise full awareness of their bodies, to control and restrict each movement between the wires, something achieved only through self-awareness. Timed jumps were essential for scouts to complete this obstacle without touching the rope. Not every hole was sized the same and Scouts had to collectively decide who should use which hole, allocating the smaller holes to smaller sized Scouts, thereby reaching a consensus to collectively share the load so as to achieve success for everyone, much like the process of putting the troop at top.
Sixth, the CASEVAC relay put the First Aid skills of scouts to the test. In a real first aid scenario, time is vital. This course emphasized speed when evacuating casualties from a dangerous zone. Scouts were required to evacuate casualties using proper first aid techniques, under record time. Often, Scouts underestimate what it is like to carry a casualty weighing 80kg for 100m, let alone a few kilometers if they are in the wilderness seeking help. Through this experience, the Scouts learned exactly this, working together to move casualties and knowing the limits of their physical abilities.
Seventh, the chariot race involved having scouts to design and make a platform that would allow someone to rest on it. Subsequently, someone would be placed on the platform and had to be carried from one end to the other. This involved scouts using their creativity and pioneering skills to tie safe and innovative 'vehicles'. This allowed the patrol to get to better know each other, especially in their knotting skills as the PL had to delegate the various roles to their patrol members.
Last but not least, Archery. The Scouts were also given the opportunity to learn how to use a bow in the Cane Archery station. It was of utmost importance the Scouts were briefed clearly on the handling of the bow, in order to minimize injuries. Usage of a bow required the highest level of self-awareness as it was not only the body firing the arrow but also the heart. One had to master every muscle in their body to keep their shots consistent and arrows flying straight. Hence, as much as this was a thriller for first-timers, it was also calibration of one own's mentality. This station was the ultimate display of self-control and awareness.
Through these obstacles, the Scouts became better versions of themselves as knowing oneself is the first step to success. They also tried their best in every station, putting the troop at the top.