Yes, you read that right.
No, there are no typos in that title.
Hello there. I identify as an introvert 80% of the time, but the 20% extroversion in me also tremendously enjoys taking part in orientation camps.
You can almost hear the loud cheers coming from hoards of young and passionate freshmen as you read the words “orientation” and “camp”. I don’t blame you.
After all, most people are on either ends of the spectrum when it comes to orientation camps. You either love them and participate in as many as you can, or you absolutely hate them to the core of your guts.
There is also this assumption that people who love and enjoy camps must be the super rah rah type and are true blue extroverts.
Well, I hope to break that assumption with my story.
I joined Singapore Institute of Technology back in 2014 and majored in Criminology and Security (hold that gasp—I know what you’re thinking, I’ll share more about this another time). If I remember correctly, the orientation camp I attended was the first official large-scale orientation camp organized by SIT’s Student Life Division.
The introverted part of me thought that I wouldn’t enjoy myself at a camp that was compulsory to attend. But I did and when the camp came to an end, I was bummed that I wouldn’t see my group mates in school anymore because we were all located at different campuses.
Fast forward a semester—when the email for recruitment of camp facilitators came around in my inbox, I boldly signed up and never looked back since.
When word got around to my friends, they were really shocked with what I did. I mean, I don’t blame them. Who would have thought that a shy and reserved girl like me would join in the most hyped school event of the year?
I imagine my classmates were equally shocked as well. Someone like me, being rah rah in an orientation camp and doing all those loud cheers and funny dances?
I wasn’t exactly the most impressionable classmate you see. I never spoke during seminars (unless I was forced to), I never answered the lecturer’s questions during lectures, and I was always one of the first few people to leave the classroom once class was over. You also wouldn’t find me making small talks about what went down over the weekend.
In fact, if you asked any of my classmates (hello criminology peeps of 2017 if anyone is reading this), they would probably describe me as that very quiet girl in class—a complete opposite to who I was in student activities outside of class.
So what was it that made me want to join orientation camps? I guess you could say it was out of a burning desire to try new things. After all, university is the last leg of your life as a student. There are just some things that you’ll never get to experience again once you graduate and start adulting #truth
Besides, I was also tired of being bounded by the common stereotypes of an introvert—shy, quiet, and anti-social etc. I wanted to challenge these stereotypes by stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something “crazy”. Hey, just because I identify as an introvert does not mean that I hate people and can’t have fun at camps right!
Sometimes, you just need to take that leap of faith and believe in yourself. If your decision turns out to be a bad one (it usually isn’t), at least you can tell yourself that you’ve tried your best and it’s not the end of the world.
Anyway, I digress.
Signing up for a camp does not automatically mean that you’ll get what you want. The positions are limited (facilitator spots are almost always first to be filled up) and of course everyone has to go through an interview.
Don’t let the idea of an interview scare you off though! Facilitators are the first friends that freshmen will make in their university lives, so a strict selection process is set in place to weed out problematic behaviours.
Shoutout to my partners: they’re amazing people who make up for my shortcomings as a facilitator. I wasn’t the best facilitator of course, but I did what I could to make the camp experience better for the freshmen!
Through this short journey as a camp facilitator, I’ve learned a ton of things along the way—things that weren’t necessarily taught in textbooks and classrooms. Being on the ball, taking initiative, keeping an open mind and of course, developing good communication skills are just some of my key takeaways.
Even in my graduating year and final semester, I signed up for one last time to be an assistant facilitator head in the camp.
I dare say that it was one of the best decisions I ever made throughout my whole student life in SIT.
At the time of writing this, it has been exactly a year since the commencement of that last SIT orientation camp. I don’t think I could ever forget the whole experience.
From forging bonds amongst the facilitators ourselves to winning the best empire award once again after three years, it still feels amazing that I took the first brave step forward and applied for the position.
Had I not submitted the application form back then in 2015, I would not have experienced such an enriching and vibrant student life in SIT.
TL;DR: introvert or not, don’t be afraid to try out new things in university. You’ll never know what will come out of it if you never try!