Tuesday, August 25, 2009


INCOVAR stands for INter COllege & VARsity, a youth wing of the Buddhist Gem Fellowship (BGF).


Venue : Subang Jaya Buddhist Association

Date : 11th - 14th June 2008

Fee : RM75

Camp Eligibility
  • Non-Muslim
  • Age 17 and above
  • Studying in any college, university or institution of higher learning locally or overseas.
Well, as I am eligible to join in, I did.
On the first day of the camp, I was late........ for the morning puja. Then my group are forfeited, we had to wash the dishes. This is based on the Amazing Race theme that this camp has... for this time.

Now as I see among the faces of my group, I regonised them only through facebook pictures. Our group leader is Chow Foong, if this name sounds familar, you're right. He's Chow Fu's (the one who's in the top 5 physics Olympiad team) older brother.

So, we kinda know each other even before the camp itself. Except that I was in Singapore and I've just gone back to Petaling on the 10th June. The others had prepared a good slide show presentation on one of the ancient cities in India that relates to Buddhism.

The first day of INCOVAR is filled with activities, dharma talks, games in from the Amazing Race... Ok I don't remember the exact schedule. So I'll just tell you what I feel.

They asked who's the old people here? Well, we have people who are in this camp series from 5th timers to 1st timers. As Incovar Dharma Camp is a biannual thing and 4 in a series, the 5th timers were 1st timers 2 years ago and need not pay anything to join the camp! The first one is 4 noble truths, then 8 foldpath, 3rd one is karma (this is the one I'm in), and 4th one meditiation. So anyone who has gone through all 4 of them can be considered as having the knowledge of the basics of Buddhism.

Anyway, back to my feelings, the old timers were quick to warm up as they recognised their old friends, be it from University Malaya, IMU, UPM, etc.... and one old timer from NUS is Ken Juin, and we are the only 2 from NUS. So I naturally feel that the camp is a bit unfriendly towards the first timers, as the camp warden and the assistant are 3rd timers.

Due to insufficient preparation time, the first day passed by unsatisfactorily. I thought, man, 3 more days of these.... not fun, not as good as our NUSBS Dharma Camp.

But then, Ken Juin assured me that this is the worst one, it will be better. And indeed, I don't know how, but after the organisers got organised in the first night, I had to admit that I was enjoying myself in the camp.
Let's go through some activities in the camp....
We get to shop in the nearby shopping center, to buy materials for the egg protection game (our egg broke... what a professional pride lost... well at least I'm not an enginneer) which I believe that if we had swapped eggs (ours was a bit broken during contruction), our egg protector can stand more than 3 stories of drop (it has a parachute too).

Eating time is almost always a torture. First meal, Lunch time, we had to feed the person opposite you, not changing the plates. Well, my poor patner... you know why, I took so many food that he had to stuff them in. The trick here is to change the food, not the plate.
Next meal, we had to eat with our hands linked to each other, well, at least we get to feed ourselves. The 3rd meal is fun.... Blindfold eating. We had to feed ourselves with a blindfold over our eyes! I asked to wash my hands after a few unsuccessful attempts to eat by spoon. Then I ate using my hands! They said that this is the first time in many years that someone used their hands to eat blindfold, good strategy. The Forth one and the hardest one is the best one. Blindfold and feed your patner. Our group has just won in the advertisement activity and we get to sit on a chair and table as our reward together with orange juice, chocolate waffles, and so on.... as the others on the floor gets their blindfold, we were relieved.... Until they gave us the last of the blindfolds. Our jaws were on the floor as we had to endure torture even in the face of luxury. Well, there's no using hands this time round, so we guide our patner's hands to our mouths, blind feeding the blind. All these serves to incoparate dharma, as we experience it. The blind in the dharma leading the blind is a very dangerous thing to do, the floor will get messy, we will not get the food that we wanted.... and so on. Appreciation of how the blind eat is also one of the lessons that one can learn from here.

Talking about advertisement, we had an assignment for each group to perform. We had to advertise Incovar in a Sketch advertisement. We had it like Malaysian Idol style, with 3 judges and comments from them. One group used SpongeBob SquarePants and actually created it using yellow, square sponge! Our group acted with 5 people breaking the 5 precepts, gone to Incovar camp, and changed for the better. And we won!

The Amazing Race does features many exciting oppotunities to experience winning and losing. But the dharma lesson to be learnt from this is that winning or losing is temperary.

Well, we have Tai Chi Classes too in the morning, and kick-boxing class on the next morning, the Dharma talks were good, with opportunities for us to become the MC for the speaker. Perhaps the best event is singing time! We inspire, we're the fire, we're the spirite of youth's life..... You my beautiful friend, you bring me joy.... Ehi Passiko, come and see you'll know......Cradled in Buddha's Arms........

One memorable activity is testing of the 5 precepts and assumptions. We broke off into mixed groups and go from one station to another, passing the lying test, the drinking alcohol test , not opening ---magazine test, etc. It serves to tell us that even under excited states, under any conditions, if we don't adhere to our precepts, there's no point taking them. My group consist of all girls and me and the only guy..... we didn't get the first few stations but then, we reconsidered and played the rest smoothly. One particular station is the donation station, where one can donate (to who? donate what?), our group was the first one to go there and people are taking out their wallets, watches, etc to donate.... even an iPhone. I almost donated, but was reminded by them that you might not get it back.... so I reconsidered. This iPhone thing cause quite a stir from the other participants, they demanded to have it back to the owner (the owner didn't said anything). After one day, the organisers finally revealed to us that they had no rights to keep those stuffs, and they were planning to return them on the last day. This is to test to see what we would do. However, due to excessive demands by the participants, they gave it out early. We all learned a lesson that day. Never assume.

And the one unique experience in the Incovar camp is Incovar night. The things said there are to remain there. It's a heart to heart session with blindfolds and small groups, confessing our guilt, the people that we didn't forgave, and help us on a road to forgive them, and ourselves.

I didn't planned to write so long, but emotions are hard to control and harder not to express such beautiful experiences. After the Incovar night, we have our last night gatherings and I commented this to the organisers, "On the first night that I was here, I was disappointed and I wonder why so many of you guys keep on coming back. However, after all we have been through, I've to say that this is the best camp I have ever been to and I hope that Incovar last for a trillion years and beyond.

We each have a booklet that contains everyone in the camp, mine is more than half full signed by people around the camp. Well, lots of them are paises for me, as I revealed my silver status and my rubiks skills to them. Dan Yi Wong, the Malaysian who came to our NUSBS Dharma Camp, also came to the camp on the last day. All in all, I highly recommend this camp, if you have the opportunity to join, by all means, join it. I'm looking forward towards the next camp too, on November/December 2009, but it also depends on my CCAs here, and my exam time.
Just in case someone reading this is a organiser..... I might go back during my reading week on 14-20th Nov, or after 13th Dec..... anyway I'll go for the June one again if I missed the next one.

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