When I was first invited to join FamChamps, I was apprehensive as I’d be the only one from my school and almost everyone would be a stranger to me. In spite of that, I registered for the camp and my fears instantly disappeared when I met my group; the team of 8 others from the School of the Arts warmly welcomed me to their fold! That set a great tone for the action-packed camp.
After settling in, we got to look into our family histories, letting us understand ourselves and our families better. By drawing my family genogram and identifying relatives by various characteristics, I saw that we share a positive pattern of open-mindedness. It was exciting to see how similar I am to my dad; we don’t only seem alike in appearance and mannerisms, I’ve also picked up some of his characteristics like perseverance and determination when it came to work.
At one Family Dialogue session, Jason Wong shared his motivation behind the Dads For Life and Yellow Ribbon Project movements. He saw how children are constantly influenced by their parents’ good and bad behaviours and how children learn values. Through his session, I felt the urgency to change for the better as well as learn to forgive and forget, while trying to forge stronger relationships with my family.
On the second and third days, we learned how important it was to appreciate, honour, communicate with and forgive our parents; I realised how huge a role body language played in the way my message is conveyed when I talk to my parents. For a change of scenery, we took a field trip to The New Charis Mission — a halfway house for ex-drug offenders — and it was eye-opening to hear some residents’ stories and also see how dedicated the organisation was to care and restore hope for these individuals!
We played a competitive role-playing game FamQuest, based on Family and overcoming dilemmas as a unit. It let us practice the skills we’d learnt during the camp to improve family relationships and resolve disagreements.
All of us hit the streets for #FamilyFTW to get a sense of the public thought about the importance of family in Singapore. It was really heart-warming to hear their stories and enriching to understand different viewpoints, and made me consider how I would continue to treat my family when life gets too busy.
My highlight of the camp was Honour Night. Besides being away from the family for 3 days, all the lessons I’d learnt had caused a lot of warmth and love to bubble up for my parents and I worried if they would feel overwhelmed by it. As soon as they arrived, a big hug was all it took to break down all the uneasiness. It was wonderful that my parents both came by that evening; what started out as an awkward dinner date became a night full of laughter and tears. Their favourite parts of the evening was learning their Love Language and receiving the letter I wrote for them. Having their full attention to bond with them was something I had longed for, so it gave us the chance to connect on a deep level and share our feelings.
As I look back on the camp, I’m thankful to have been a part of the camp and learn so much! No family is perfect, so we need to extend forgiveness to others and make efforts to make our relationships stronger and better.
I’m motivated and excited to share the importance of family with my peers, helping them see how crucial our role is in the family and build stronger families.
Charlotte Chow (CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School)