1,000 women 'fall in' for NS boot camp

Ms Jamie Phoon (pictured on the left) and Ms Tabatha Lim, who are best friends, are looking forward to the boot camp that will be held from Sept 1 to 2. A poster promoting the event describes it as a "golden opportunity to go through NS activities".
Ms Jamie Phoon (left) and Ms Tabatha Lim, who are best friends, are looking forward to the boot camp that will be held from Sept 1 to 2. A poster promoting the event describes it as a "golden opportunity to go through NS activities".PHOTO: COURTESY OF TABATHA LIM
(From left) Jasmine Tan, Yap Shu Jun, Ong Chun Hui, Lee Yet Wei, all 30, have signed up for the Women’s Boot Camp together. They have yet to hear back on whether their applications are successful, but are keeping their fingers crossed.
(From left) Jasmine Tan, Yap Shu Jun, Ong Chun Hui, Lee Yet Wei, all 30, have signed up for the Women’s Boot Camp together. They have yet to hear back on whether their applications are successful, but are keeping their fingers crossed. PHOTO: LEE YET WEI

But only 100 picked for chance to sleep in army bunk, handle rifle and eat combat food

Would you pay to stay in a military bunk, eat combat rations and go on a route march?

More than 1,000 women of all ages jumped at the chance to do so, signing up for a women's boot camp to experience what national service (NS) is like.

But only 100 places were available and the Ang Mo Kio Women's Executive Committee (WEC), which is organising the event, had to hold a ballot.

The youngest participant is 13 years old and the oldest is 64, said the organising committee. The average age is 29.

To be held at Maju Camp in Clementi from Sept 1 to 2 , the camp was promoted as an opportunity to go through NS activities.

The women and girls will take part in a 3km route march, handle the SAR21 rifle and taste combat rations, among other activities.

Ms Jamie Phoon (pictured on the left) and Ms Tabatha Lim, who are best friends, are looking forward to the boot camp that will be held from Sept 1 to 2. A poster promoting the event describes it as a "golden opportunity to go through NS activities".
Ms Jamie Phoon and Ms Tabatha Lim, who are best friends, are looking forward to the boot camp that will be held from Sept 1 to 2. A poster promoting the event describes it as a "golden opportunity to go through NS activities". PHOTO: FACEBOOK

  • How women can play their part

  • In Singapore, women who are keen to play an active role in defending the nation can sign up as career soldiers.

    Those who want to do national service but do not want to become career soldiers can join the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC). Under the scheme, which was introduced in 2014, they will receive around four weeks of training, after which they will perform military duties for 14 days each year.

    Singaporean women, first-generation permanent residents, and new citizens can sign up to join the SAFVC as long as they are between 18 and 45 years old, and have a desire to contribute to national defence.

    Shortlisted applicants will then undergo interviews and medical screenings to determine if they are suitable to serve.

    Toh Ting Wei

They will spend the night in military bunks. Each person pays $55 and PAssion card members get a $10 discount.

The camp was announced on July 17 in a Facebook post by the People's Association's Women's Integration Network Council, the coordinating body for the 105 WECs in Singapore. The post attracted almost 3,000 shares and more than 2,000 comments.

Ms Joanna Portilla, chairman of Ang Mo Kio WEC, said: "Through this camp, the organisers hope to give women a glimpse of what our national servicemen go through so that they can better relate to the men's experiences and demonstrate stronger support and involvement in NS and defence.

"We are very grateful for the overwhelming response from the public. This shows that women are keen to play a part in supporting NS."

Those who failed to get a place will be notified from Sunday. Ms Portilla added that the committee may organise similar events in the future.

The camp is part of an initiative by the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (Accord), which facilitates efforts by the community to give better support to national defence and NS, among other roles.

Accord was inspired to propose the boot camp for women following the success of the Dads for Life Camp last year, said Ms Portilla.

The earlier camp, organised by the Centre for Fathering, saw more than 200 father-son pairs take part in an overnight camp at the F1 Pit Building.

Administrative executive Tabatha Lim, 19, will be taking part in the upcoming camp with a friend.

 
 

Ms Lim, who is excited at being able to handle the SAR21 rifle, told The Straits Times: "I have always been very curious about what it's like to serve NS.

"We spend a lot of time listening to so many stories from our male friends, brothers, fathers, and we never got to experience it for ourselves unless we decide to sign on with the army. So this is the perfect opportunity to do so."

Curiosity about NS life is also why civil servant Lee Yet Wei, 30, is drawn to the camp, especially the experience of staying in the military bunks. "Such an opportunity doesn't always come by, and it is an experience I am looking forward to," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2018, with the headline '1,000 women 'fall in' for NS boot camp'. Print Edition | Subscribe