Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Synergy 2016 - Teamwork Makes Dreams Work


With a combined effort, we can achieve more this is what Synergy taught me. This year, NYP Adventure Club (ADC) held the 9th edition of Synergy – NYP Adventure Race on 16 January 2016. Participating members had to form teams of 3 each with at least a member from the opposite gender, and complete a set of challenges at 10 checkpoints around Singapore. The total distance we had to cover was 25km!



Hafiz from ADC, briefing the participants  

Being someone who likes to be adventurous, I decided to take part in this event. Our team was unique as we did not know each other initially; we were put together as we did not have any team and hence the first challenge we faced was getting to know each other well. Luckily, prior to the race, ADC had prepared a Synergy workshop to equip participants with the essential skills needed for the race - namely rock climbing and navigation with a compass. This gave us an idea of what to expect from the race and also a chance to bond and learn about each other’s limitations and strengths!

On the day of the race itself, we were required to surrender all our wallets and mobile phones to ensure none of us cheated by taking public transport, and only one member is allowed to have his or her mobile phone for contact in case of emergency.

Another rule was that each team must reach Checkpoint 6 before 3pm or face disqualification.

Our very first challenge, sprinting to get the map 

The race started at 10 am, so each team only had 5 hours to reach Checkpoint 6. Every team had to clear a checkpoint before being given a map to the next checkpoint. Some checkpoints were very far apart and the closest one was at least few bus stops away!

Looking at our map 

Checkpoint 1: Our task was to find 4 pictures hidden in the Singapore Discovery Centre, count the number of berets on display (there were 97, our team made a few guesses before getting it right), and lastly to kayak 3 laps. Many teams got stuck at this checkpoint.

 Trying to find the next checkpoint

Checkpoint 2: We were required to stack 13 boxes on our teammate’s hand (only one hand) and balance it for 10 seconds. This task was frustrating and mentally challenging and we (and other teams) faced countless failures.

Stacking 13 boxes and balancing them with one hand is not as easy as it seems. It requires not just steady hands, but team work and patience 

Checkpoint 3: This checkpoint was hidden in Jurong Park, and it was also 2 MRT stations away from Checkpoint 2, and we were unlucky to have been caught in the rain while making our way there, we literally ran in the rain! The task for this checkpoint was to cycle through the park connectors to arrive at Checkpoint 4, which was the Chinese Pagoda.

Cycling through park numerous park connectors was also part of the race 

Checkpoint 4: The given task was to take pictures of Chinese characters on the iconic statues around the park. Due to time constraint, my team agreed to share pictures with another team to enable both teams to complete the task in the shortest possible time. The worst part of this task was climbing up 7 storeys to submit our pictures and if our pictures were wrong we had to do the task all over again. Luckily for us, our collaboration with the other team paid off and we completed the task with just one attempt.

Checkpoint 5: This was rock climbing and my team was able to clear it fast as we had some experience in this challenge. We were later given a map to the next checkpoint, and at that time we only had 30 mins left! We were shocked at the distance we had to travel on foot. Nevertheless we ran as fast as we could across several bus stops.
Wouldn't be an Adventure Race without rock climbing 

We finally reached Checkpoint 6 after much running. The task at this checkpoint was batting. However, much to our disappointment, we did not make it in time as we were 15 minutes late. We "collapsed" on the spot as we were really tired. We were then offered food and bicycles, and cycled our way back to the end point at SIM University.

Here are the other checkpoints that we did not get to complete:

Kayaking was also part of the race

Checkpoint 7: Dragon Boat racing to cover a certain distance. Teams could choose to go in threes or wait for another team to arrive and combine forces. 

Checkpoint 8: Complete a puzzle, deposit your bikes, and smell an array of soaps from our sponsor, and take a blind soap test to identify a soap piece.

 Checkpoint 9 - Climb up 40 storeys, and find the ADC flag, then get the map to the end point at SIM University.

It was quite a disappointment when we reached the end point with the "Finish" sign as a disqualified team but nevertheless we were very happy that each and every one of us put in our very best effort and overcame the barriers to reach Checkpoint 6.


The joy of completing 25 km at Synergy

My teammate, Toh Jun Ren, Diploma in Electrical Engineering with Eco Design, from the NYP Track team said: "This race requires problem solving, decision making and working together as a team. It really tests many aspects of your teamwork and it’s not just endurance."

Our Team - Team NJC - (from left) Jun Ren, Naseha and me

"Overcoming my poor stamina and keeping up with my team members was quite a challenge for me," said my other teammate, Nur Naseha from Diploma in Pharmaceutical Sciences. "But we overcame it with good communication. The race checkpoints were not only physically challenging but also mentally challenging. It requires a lot of endurance, patience and discipline."

Overall, Synergy 2016 has been a great experience for me. I learnt that not only do I need to be physically prepared, but also mentally prepared to to deal with frustration and failures along the way.

I certainly am going back for Synergy next year stronger and faster. To anyone who wants to participate, I would like to leave you with this quote:
RUN if you can, WALK if you have to, CRAWL if you must, but just NEVER GIVE UP - Dean Karnazes 

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By Christopher Teo Yu Yuan, Diploma in Medicinal Chemistry

 A smile is a curve that sets things straight.

Never be afraid to try. Even if we fail, there is no better way to live. Continue to pursue to what you truly love to do. Christopher is living life seeking for thrills and hopes to be able to use science to save lives and bring hope to other people.

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