“Unity is strength” Team Alpha 2.0, the platinum award winning, adventure based team building and professional development training session for the Rotaractors from District 3220 and Non-rotaractors, was held on the 16th and 17th December 2017 in collaboration with the Gamunu watch of Sri Lanka Army.
After much planning and pre-planning and even more planning, one of the most highly anticipated events in the SLIIT Rotaract calendar finally arrived. With a backpack full of enough clothes for two days, for activities and as well as for leisure purpose for both day and night, I left the house early morning and traveled to the pickup point with full of excitement.
The bus that was going to take us to Balangoda SL Army Gemunu Watch R&R premises, pulled into the Royal Skills Center to pick us up at 5.30 a.m. and we departed the pickup point 2 which was SLIIT Malabe Campus at around 6 a.m. As usual the bus ride was loaded with music which continued till the bus finally stopped at Balangoda.
We reached R&R premises at around 10 a.m. where we were warmly welcomed by the organizing committee and SL Army Gemunu Watch. Then we were introduced to the adventure professionals, Mr. Nuwan Thilakarathne, Captain Wasantha Wijekoon, Captain Priyantha Nihal, and Mr. Shamitha Thilakarathne. The instructors spoke about the importance of adventure sports, team building, methods of developing skills and mental strength, and shared their experience with us which was really interesting. They also mentioned the team evaluation criteria and concluded the speech by saying that discipline is utmost important and that we should always think of the safety first.
Afterwards, we were divided into teams and asked us to appoint a team leader as well. Most of my team members were strangers to me, however within few hours’ time we became good friends. For our surprise, each of us were given an egg and it was our ‘responsibility’ to keep it safe till the end of the event. We were told that no matter how many obstacles we face in our lives, we should never forget about our responsibilities and the egg resembled the most important thing/person in our lives. Therefore, we were supposed to do all our activities while keeping our eggs safe, which was kind of fun and for every egg we broke, they gave us a ‘heavier responsibility’; a big rock!
Then the adventure began!
Each team headed off for activities and for my team, the first activity was waterfall abseiling. We started walking towards the waterfall. With each bend of the road we found breathtaking views.
After a 20-minute hike finally we were at the top of the waterfall to make our debut experience in waterfall abseiling. This was one of my challenge lists which I always wanted to do. Enjoying the view of a stunning waterfall is already amazing but abseiling takes this adventure far beyond the limits of a normal sightseeing.
We geared up and listened to a short safety briefing. One of the instructors was preparing all the safety measurement to make sure everything was in place before the adventure. While waiting for the setup to be completed, we had to figure out a way to take our eggs safely as well. We received a demonstration beforehand.
When it was my turn, the instructor was focused on me and I could hear the faint noise of everyone cheering up above. There was no turning back, my only choice now was to go straight down the waterfall. Planting my feet on the wet rocks, the water rushing over my legs, I slowly released the rope and slid down one step at a time. It seemed to take forever to reach the bottom and at one point I slipped, grabbing onto the rope with both hands and scrambling to find my feet.
I was almost totally covered by the strong rapid. The water was like continuously slapping my face and pushing me down. Side note- You must strengthen your legs and put all your weight to your back. This position will give a good grip on the rock. If you don’t… you will get slipped like I did. At this moment, you might think of giving up but you should somehow get back to the position. The feeling was great and we really enjoyed every moment fighting with the crazy rapid.
Then we got the most difficult task out of all which was preparing our lunch. We were given noodles and canned fish as ingredients and a big saucepan. No can openers, spoons, gas cookers; nothing!!! The real challenge was to figure out how to cook without those equipment within 10 minutes where we all felt how challenging the life in woods would be. While preparing our meals we had to make sure that nothing is disposed to the environment to ensure eco friendliness. Even though it wasn’t much delicious, all our hungry stomachs enjoyed that meal.
After having lunch, we all marched down the mountain to the place they conducted rifle shooting. First, we had a small introductory session about rifles, types of rifles and the way to use them. The ones we got were air rifles. We all got 10 chances to hit the bullseye. Even though it seemed easy at the demonstrations, shooting for real wasn’t easy at all. Holding the gun itself was hard because it was too heavy. We had to prepare the gun after each shot by putting the bullet in the proper way. Pulling the underlever was a nightmare for every girl as we had to put a lot of effort to pull it up. All first 4 shots of mine went just in the air; my hands were shivering because it was too heavy. So, I was asked to try the kneeling position aand bang!! the remaining 6 shots hit the score card. Only a few of us could hit the score card and I felt proud of myself because I was one of them.
We came back to the camp at around 7 o’ clock in the evening. After freshening ourselves with a cup of tea, all of us gathered around the relaxing campfire under the starry sky. The teams had to come up with a dance, song or a drama. After brainstorming, my team came up with an entertaining skit. All the teams performed well and everyone enjoyed every bits of it. Then all of us sang for a while and afterwards we had our dinner around the campfire.
The first day of Team Alpha came to a sparking end with the campfire.
Tents were already set up for us, but nobody wanted to go to sleep anytime soon though we had to be ready by 5 a.m. the next morning. So after dinner we sat around the campfire and stayed up chatting, a nice session of jokes, more laughter and getting to know each other better. It was past midnight when we finally decided to go to sleep. There was a separate tent for girls and for most of us, it was the first time spending the night inside a tent. So we spent another few hours talking and taking pictures inside the tent. The night was really cold and lucky that the organizing committee had informed us to bring jersey/jacket or long sleeves cloths and everyone fell down asleep in seconds.
We woke up sharp at 5 a.m. hearing the “Sethil” alarm which was the most hatred earsplitting alarm that anyone could imagine. He gave us one hour to get ready and everyone had breakfast afterwards. Then all the teams headed back for the remaining activities they had; for us it was river crossing.
At the camp we were given the necessary guidelines and landmarks and we had to find the river on our own. After a small hike we reached the river bank. The water was cold as ice and we all were shivering. The river was not steady at all. At some places it was shallow and calm, at some places it was very deep and fast. It swept all over small rocks and boulders making it hard to cross and harder to keep the egg safe. We all were holding hands with each other and faced the challenge together as one team. We weren’t in a rush and we enjoyed each moment. After about one hour we reached the destination. The most thrilling experience was finding the way back to the camp. We got a free extended adventure package since we got lost in the bushes. After following the current wires which were in far away; we managed to find the main road and finally reached the camp with all the wet clothes and leech bites.
After finishing all the activities, the teams gathered at the camp ground. Each team shared their experiences and expressed their gratitude to the Rotaract Club of SLIIT, for organizing such an amazing and enjoyable event. We were surprised to know that there had been an extra member with us, in each team; a soldier for our own safety. The certificates were handed out to all the participants and we were all very excited to know who’s going to be the ultimate Team Alpha. Finally, they announced the winning team and handed out the certificates. Afterwards, the tokens of appreciations were handed over to all the instructors.
After all the adventures we had some time to relax, to enjoy the beauty of mother nature and to have more fun. We even had a very long bath in the river, where we practiced stone skimming. We really loved the vibe of that place and I really wish we would have spent another day there.
The Adventure Professionals who conducted the program were fascinating in demonstrating and guiding throughout the program with the support of SL Army the Gemunu Watch. The Rotaractors got the chance to practice and test their mental and physical skills as well as to test their leadership skills and team spirit with the guidance from the instructors. And of course, everyone left the place with tons of unforgettable memories.
We would like to thank Gemunu watch R&R of SL Army, all the instructors for their excellent guidance and we would like to extend our gratitude to our very own President Rtr. Vinura Ganegoda and Vice president Rtr. Sethil Muhandiram for chairing this wonderful project for the second consecutive year.
Team Alpha 2.0 was thus concluded on a high note, on the 16th and 17th of December 2017 at Sri Lanka Army Gemunu Watch R&R premises with the participation of more than 40 Rotaractors.
Written by –
Rtr. Dilini De Silva & Rtr. Duleesha Waidyarathne