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By TAN CHENG YEW brats@thestar.com.my I could go on and on about how much I love the camp, but one of the numerous things I have learned from the BRATs program is to keep our articles short, simple and sweet. The BRATs camp was just something else. Frankly, the amount of fun I had and things I have learnt is tenfold of what I had expected. Throughout the camp, I was surrounded by friendly, enthusiastic fellow amateur journalists like myself (except Ian and his team, and the senior BRATs, of course). There was never a dull moment throughout the program. The conversations kept going and everyone was more than happy to lend each other a helping hand. As part of the program to train us to be professionals, we were given short classes on journalism and photography. The classes were short but the effects were long. To me, it was an eye opener; it made me grasp the roots of journalism and appreciate the work of a journalist even more. Then, Ian was bombarded with questions by us, but he satisfied our curiosity with crystal clear explanation. After all that, we convinced ourselves we were ready to take on Ian’s assignments. I had never been so wrong in my life. I was on team Ian. And to sum up how our articles and videos turned out: We totally screwed up on our first assignment, but made a beautiful comeback on the last one. We had two assignments on the second day, the first was to interview Felix Tee, the owner of Casabrina Resort Villa; the second was to interview the Orang Asli who lived in Kampung Sungai Dalam. As stated earlier, the result of the first assignment was horrendous. We lacked video footage, our story angle was totally unreasonable and the information we got from Felix was just not in sync with what we wanted to write. Ian was deeply disappointed and he did not accept the video we made.

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We were forced to redo the video, but being a reasonable and caring person, Ian gave us huge tips and advice to improve our work and prepare us for the next day. We stayed awake till the wee hours of the morning to make up for our huge mistake and by the time we were done, we were exhausted and deprived of sleep. We promised ourselves at the very moment that for the next assignment, we will make Ian proud. The third day held the very last assignment – stories on the elephant sanctuary. This time, we had a clear goal, a clear angle, and everyone on my team executed their part perfectly. We produced a meaningful video that presents how the elephants were taken care of in the sanctuary, two beautiful written articles that feature “elephant rescuing” and “the bond between the workers and the elephants”, as well as beautiful images that captured the essence of the elephant sanctuary. This time, Ian smiled and held his thumb up as he reviewed our work. Relief and satisfaction washed over us like a tidal wave. Now, I present to you the fun part of the camp. Firstly, there were games in between our work that took our minds off and calmed us down. But then when we were told that the deadline had only been extended by 15 minutes when the game had taken up 1 hour, we panicked. We were also constantly attacked by a myriad of bugs at Casabrina, which made us a pest control unit if you could count the amount of bugs we killed (even though Mr Felix told us not to). And finally, my favorite part of the camp, CAMPFIRE BARBECUE! All these activities bonded me and my fellow journalists together. It seemed like we have known each other for years even though it has only been 4 days. The hour the camp ended, everyone started taking pictures and exchanging contacts with their new friends. There were touching moments which made me shed a tear. Soon, it was time to leave. On the way home, I thought to myself: “I‘ll miss that camp. But then again, this is not the end. As, I am now in the BRATs family and there is more to come!” Cheers! Click here to enjoy more amazing videos from our BRATs Raub camp. For more info on BRATs, Malaysia’s awesomest, most successful young journalist programme since 1993, click here. And if you wanna join the programme and attend one of our epic BRATs Camps, click here.

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