After an overwhelming response for its debut last year, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) Young Explorer Programme is back!
It is a nature education programme for children aged 7 to 10 and aims to create a more enjoyable and meaningful learning experience to stimulate interest in various subjects through hands on learning, as well as to invoke the spirit of exploration by inspiring kids to enquire and be curious of the world around them. And best of all, it is FREE!
Ash and Ayd had the chance to get a sneak peek of the 'Relive the Old Kampung Days' workshop over the weekend, which was held at the Sustainable Living Kampung at Bottle Tree Park.
Set up by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), Sustainable Living Kampung (SL Kampung) is a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to restore the connection between urbanites and the land we live on through a diversity of activities - organic farming, appropriate technologies, arts and culture, social and humanitarian projects. In fact, the entire premise was so rustic and homely that it felt as if we were transported back in history.
Together with the SengkangBabies, the boys' kampung experience kicked off with a tour of the spice and herb garden where they got to pick up some knowledge on some of the common plants used in our daily lives.
The boys even gamely chewed on some mint leaves... with mixed results - Ash loathed the taste while Ayd loved it!
We moved on to animals next, as the boys got a crash course on some of the more common birds that have been spotted around Bottle Tree Park.
But you know, boys being boys... they tend to get restless after a while so it was a good thing that their next activity featured some hands-on activity to work those muscles.
To truly experience kampung life, farming is an inevitable aspect. So after slipping on gloves and lifting up a few cangkuls, they were off!
But as they found out, an important part of farming was not so much the planting bit. Rather, it was the weeding part that ensured that the crops grew healthily. So the boys were taught how to take the the weeds in the correct manner, roots and all.
No doubt it was hard work under the hot sun, but I think they thoroughly enjoyed the work.
And the biggest take-away from the short weeding session? The boys have a new-found respect for farmers as they acknowledged that it was no easy task toiling under the hot sun everyday.
With all the hard work done, it was time to chill a little. On a floating barge, no less.
It even came with our personal paddler.
This part of the SL Kampung is not usually open to public and can be only accessed via its workshops and activities. So it was a real treat for the boys as they got to drift along a large pond on a floating barge, while dipping their feet into the cool water at the same time.
But if they thought that lazing on a barge was the highlight of the workshop, the next activity clearly upped the ante and had them scrambling towards it in wild excitement.
After all, how often can one get to wade through a natural stream in Singapore? And to top it off, the boys had to descend into the stream via a rope tied to a tree trunk!
Truly an awesome experience on its own, if you ask me.
Initially, both Ash and Ayd were a bit wary of stepping barefoot into the knee-deep stream. But once the mud was oozing through their toes coupled with the cool water surrounding their feet, it was clear that they enjoyed every minute of it.
In fact, they enjoyed it so much that they kept trekking further upstream and refused to leave!
I guess it is a given then that the boys totally had the time of the lives during the 2-hour workshop. Okay, the 2 daddies included.
I loved how the workshop had woven together nature and our Kampung heritage, and created new experiences for the boys. Experiences which they would never have known in our current modern city life.
And if you want your kids to join in the fun too, they can do so by just registering at www.ngcyoungexplorer.com.sg. In fact, besides the Kampung workshop, there are four other workshops - Explore the Rainforests of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Delve into the Wonders of Wildflowers at Bidadari, Discover the Flora and Fauna of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (Check out mummybean's account here) and Seek out Nature at the Mangroves of Pasir Ris - to check out over the month of February as well. Click HERE to find out more details about the individual workshops.
Upon completion of the trails, children are also encouraged to complete a worksheet detailing what they have learnt from the trails. All children with a completed worksheet will receive a NGC Young Explorer Badge and certificate. All completed entries will also qualify them for a chance to go the Explorer Camp led by Casey Anderson, a wildlife expert at NGC!
Registration is FREE but as places are limited, Young Explorers will be chosen based on the answers provided by the child when they register. A total of 1,200 aspiring young explorers will be selected as part of this programme. Click HERE to register. And do hurry, registration closes on 31 January 2014!