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IT was a BRATs camp of two extremes.

We went from staying at a cushy luxury resort, to riding through the jungle on the back of a truck and shovelling elephant poo.

It was exciting, relaxing, exhausting and emotional, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The BRATs Raub 2015 young journalist camp was one of the most memorable BRATs camps EVER – and we’ve been running these camps since 1993!

Held at the Casabrina luxury resort in Raub, Pahang, the camp is the first of three which R.AGE will be organising this year, and boy did we start out with a bang.

The 34 participants, some of the most talented aspiring journalists from across the country, were sent on unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime field assignments.

They included a truck ride to the Sungai Dalam orang asli village, a behind-the-scenes look at the National Elephant Conservation Centre at Kuala Gandah (where they got to hug some baby and adult elephants) and, of course, a tour of the unique, eco-friendly Casabrina resort.

The journalists that facilitated the camp – R.AGE editor Ian Yee (yours truly), R.AGE journalist Lim May Lee and Star2 entertainment journalist Kenneth Chaw – were each assigned a group of participants, and the challenge for each team was to come up with the best stories, photos and videos to be published here in The Star next Tuesday.

Yee giving a workshop on journalism, and how it is important to practise it responsibly. All the workshops at BRATs Raub were held at Casabrina's cozy reception area, which overlooks a stunning valley.

Yee giving a workshop on journalism, and how it is important to practise it responsibly. All the workshops at BRATs Raub were held at Casabrina’s cozy reception area, which overlooks a stunning valley.

Despite the rivalry, the mood was always positive.

In fact, some of the BRATs were telling us how inspired they were by the talent around them!

Don’t be surprised if some of these BRATs become top journalists some day, changing the world story by story.

To all the participants at BRATs Raub, there’s only one thing left for us to say, and we’ll say it with great pride – welcome to the BRATs family!

You lot are now officially BRATs teen journalists =)

Day One:

Workshops, workshops, workshops

The participants of BRATs Raub 2015 getting an introduction to the BRATs programme out by the pool at the Casabrina luxury resort.

The participants of BRATs Raub 2015 getting an introduction to the BRATs programme out by the pool at the Casabrina luxury resort.

After registration, the BRATs had a whole day of journalism-related workshops.

Apart from the technical stuff (photography, videography, writing skills, etc.), they also learned how to be responsible, ethical and fair journalists.

Kevin Boey from Canon Marketing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd giving the BRATs an exclusive workshop on photojournalism. Veteran Star photojournalist Samuel Ong was also there throughout the camp to share his knowledge.

Kevin Boey from Canon Marketing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd giving the BRATs an exclusive workshop on photojournalism. Veteran Star photojournalist Samuel Ong was also there throughout the camp to share his knowledge.

Day Two:

Trip to the orang asli village

The journey to the Sungai Dalam orang asli village was an adventure in itself as the BRATs got to ride through the jungle on the back of a truck

The journey to the Sungai Dalam orang asli village was an adventure in itself as the BRATs got to ride through the jungle on the back of a truck

A convoy of pickup trucks took us through the jungle to the Sungai Dalam orang asli village. We also had a tour of Casabrina’s unique facilities, and interviewed its owner, Felix Tee.

Day Three:

The elephants in the room

The BRATs helped feed the elephants their brunch, which was three sticks of sugarcane each.

The BRATs helped feed the elephants their brunch, which was three sticks of sugarcane each.

We didn’t just get to play and take a whole bunch of selfies with the elephants, we also got to feed them, clean their enclosures, and speak to the people who help rescue and train them.

Day Four:

BRATs for life

On the last day, we made the super hard-working Kenneth an honourary BRAT (he applied in 2007, but his camp was canceled because of the SARS outbreak), and that sparked an emotional final few hours at Casabrina.

Star2 entertainment journalist Kenneth Chaw dreamed of joining BRATs as a teenager, but the camp he applied for in 2007 was canceled because of the SARS outbreak. But since he did such a great job leading #TeamKenneth at BRATs Raub, we made him an honourary BRAT, and his team presented him this beautiful special edition BRATs T-shirt! We won't lie, there were a few tears shed...

Star2 entertainment journalist Kenneth Chaw dreamed of joining BRATs as a teenager, but the camp he applied for in 2007 was canceled because of the SARS outbreak. But since he did such a great job leading #TeamKenneth at BRATs Raub, we made him an honourary BRAT, and his team presented him this beautiful special edition BRATs T-shirt! We won’t lie, there were a few tears shed…

So much feels... Things got really emotional as Arunn Suntharalingam from #TeamMayLee gave a moving speech thanking the R.AGE and Star journalists who facilitated the camp. These kids are so sweet! :')

So much feels… Things got really emotional as Arunn Suntharalingam from #TeamMayLee gave a moving speech thanking the R.AGE and Star journalists who facilitated the camp. These kids are so sweet! :’)

 

The farewell was temporary, of course, because we have a little saying here at The Star: Once a BRAT, always a BRAT =)

Scroll down below the comments for all our photos from BRATs Raub, courtesy of veteran Star photojournalist and BRATs trainer SAMUEL ONG.

About

Ian is the editor of R.AGE. He hates writing about himself.

Tell us what you think!

More photos from BRATs Raub

  • Day 1 - REGISTRATION! These fresh-faced BRATs participants had no idea they were about to go on the adventure of their lives.
  • First task: Interview a partner!
  • The participants showed plenty of interest in interviewing -- even for an ice-breaker.
  • Ross and Arunn getting to know one another. And oh, we had a Ross, a Phoebe and a Rachelle. That's almost like half the F.R.I.E.N.D.S!
  • Photo opp in front of Casabrina's "container hotel", right before we moved up to Casabrina's gorgeous main villa, where we had all our workshops.
  • BRATs group photo SOP - one "normal" photo, and another where we let them go crazy. This one's crazy.
  • After the ice-breaker interviews we did at the container hotel, each participant had to do an introduction for their partner.
  • Not quite sure if they're watching Ian explain what journalists do, or looking longingly at the super cool infinity pool... Ian's here kicking off Day One, which was mostly journalism-related workshops.
  • ERRBODEH SAY CHEESE! They seem pretty entertained by the R.AGE team's intro to BRATs... Let's just hope they were laughing WITH them...
  • Ian giving a workshop on Journalism 101. Anybody still remember the key points?
  • Kevin Boey from Canon gave a talk on photojournalism! Thanks for coming, Kevin!
  • Arunn going all out to get that perfect shot. Canon did promise some prizes for the best photos!
  • Day 2: Most luxe BRATs accommodations ever, Angle 1, taken right before we left for our first field assignment.
  • Angle 2! See what we did there?
  • First assignment of the day: Interview Casabrina owner Felix Tee.
  • Rolling out from Casabrina for our field assignments. Riding on the back of an open truck is the best!
  • HANDS IN THE AIR LIKE YOU JUST DON'T CARE
  • Our very own BRATs convoy. If you were in Raub and you heard a bunch of noisy teenagers screaming "HELLOOOOO" on the road, that would be us.
  • Seriously. That's how fun BRATs is.
  • PARTY TRUCK! Well, not really. Still, it's a truckload of happening people.
  • This wood factory supplies all the wood Casabrina needs for its furniture and architecture. Every last bit of the wood is used, including the saw dust, which is used as humus for their vege plantation.
  • But before the village, the BRATs made stops to check out Felix's other businesses like this vegetable farm that supplies fresh, pesticide-free veggies to Casabrina.
  • The BRATs hard at work interviewing a few orang asli employees on Casabrina's farm.
  • Our surroundings were so beautiful, how could we NOT take tons of pictures?
  • "Are we there yet??"
  • En route to the orang asli village! Luckily we packed our BRATs caps. It was HOT.
  • At the long house of Kampung Sungai Dalam. Another group photo???
  • Aaaaaaaaaaaand another one...
  • The BRATs interviewing some of the locals at Kampung Sungai Dalam
  • Squatting under a long house to interview a local woman? Now that's dedication.
  • Passed by this lovely little stream while walking around the village. What do we do? GROUP PHOTO!!!
  • ANOTHER GROUP PHOTO!
  • The water was nice and cool, but no time for swimming. We had work to do.
  • Heading back to Casabrina.
  • The BRATs working hard on their assignments at the cozy hall of Casabrina's main villa.
  • There's always time for games at BRATs. This one was a pretty heated game of Win, Lose or Draw. #TeamIan came out tops!
  • This is supposed to be a picture of Datuk Siti Nurhaliza. Don't be fooled though, Nathelie is an amazing hyperrealist artist! Given she only had a minute to draw, we think this is a good picture -- and her group guessed it was Siti in like 15 seconds!
  • DAY 2: The field assignment was a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Elephant Conservation Centre. It was such an AMAZING experience!!!
  • But first, we had to get our hands dirty. The BRATs did a bit of volunteer work, to get a real feel of what the staff at NECC do. Shelby and Xin Lee here are preparing lunch for the elephants. Those are banana tree trunks, FYI.
  • Tobias and Yohendran shoveling elephant poo. Clearly, that's what they thought they'd be doing when they signed up to be BRATs teen journalists...
  • Amanda and Bay interviewing one of the staff at NECC.
  • Jeffri, a mahout (or elephant trainer), introducing us to his elephant. All the staff at NECC have really strong bonds with their elephants.
  • More elephant poo... This time, inside the elephant enclosure.
  • Time for brunch! The staff allowed us to feed them. The menu consisted of three sticks of sugar cane for each elephant.
  • Something you might or might not know about elephants - they are GREEDY. They tried to collect all three sticks of sugar cane at their feet before they even started eating. Tsk tsk.
  • Amanda feeding this particularly friendly elephant in the enclosure.
  • After about an hour of cleaning, feeding and taking photos, the mahouts let all of us into the enclosures to get really close to the elephants.
  • Picture time! How many of you can say you had a selfie with an elephant?
  • #TeamIan having one last group photo before saying goodbye to the elephants.
  • This has to be the best group photo we have from BRATs Raub...
  • Time for a few more photos at the public area.
  • Our tour guides gave us more info on the elephant sanctuary and how they rescued the animals.
  • Go #TeamMayLee!
  • At the end of DAY THREE, we had a campfire BBQ. But if you look carefully, a lot of them are still busy trying to finish their stories and videos...
  • It always tastes better when you grill it yourself...
  • What's a campfire without some singing? Bay giving Zee Avi a run for her money with a rendition of 'Kantoi'.
  • DAY FOUR: Time to say goodbye, and we won't lie - there were more than a few tears! We made Star2 entertainment journalist Kenneth Chaw an honourary BRAT, because the BRATs camp he applied for in 2007 was canceled cos of the SARS outbreak. #TeamKenneth surprised him with this T-shirt, which has a portrait of Kenneth and his dog River! The portrait was drawn in a few hours by Nathelie. Told you, gurl's talented!
  • And #TeamIan gave him THIS drawing. Not quite Nathelie's hyperreal masterpiece, but y'know, it's the thought that counts...
  • Of course, that was just a smokescreen. The real gift they wanted to give Ian was this Nathelie Yong original. It even comes with a wise quote!
  • #TeamMayLee group shot! MayLee with her trademark (and only) pose.
  • #TeamMayLee GROUP HUG!
  • Happy birthday Natasha! Thanks for coming to the camp even on your birthday =)
  • Ian found his long lost twin sister!
  • And the camp's over! The certs were given out, and Ian's bittersweet final speech given. Here's #TeamKenneth getting some final group shots done.
  • And then this happened. Elizabeth right here is a cheerleader, so lifting Kenneth was nothing.
  • One last shot, and that was that. BRATs for life!

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