One of the ways that you maintain a bit of normalcy in your life after moving to the other side of the world is by participating in activities that you are familiar with. For Melissa, that is her scrapbooking group, for me....mostly work. For Jack, it has been getting involved with the BSA Scout Troop in Singapore.
By the end of his first troop meeting, he had been elected to be the troop librarian and an assistant patrol leader. Talk about jumping right into things. Scouting is something Jack knows and it is something he and I can do together that doesn't include video games and such. As much as I travel for work, when I am home, I like to spend as much time as I can doing this kind of thing with Jack.
The first troop camp-out of the year was a big one. One of the older boys was doing his Eagle Award service project. He had organized a big project to paint a small school at a kampung (small village) in Indonesia.
As you can tell by the pictures, this little village isn't exactly well funded. Most of the people who live there work as local fishermen scraping out just enough to survive. It turns out that the little school in the village was built by a Singaporean doctor who wanted to give something back to a nearby community.
Through a few tenuous connections, one of the scouts in our troop knew this school was here and needed some help. He arranged for a group of scouts to come from Singapore with all of the supplies needed to re-paint the entire school.
The trip to Indonesia was more of an adventure than I had expected. From Singapore, we took a large ferry to Batam Centre on Batam Island. Batam is a pretty big island that is only about a 45 minute ferry ride from Singapore. From there, it was about an hour in a van to where we met our second boat of the trip.
While it wasn't the most sturdy vessel on the sea, it did the trick and we made if to our destination on one piece (and mostly dry).
While in Indonesia, the boys stayed at the Blue Mountain Kelong. A kelong is essentially a house or platform built on stilts, primarily for fishing. The Blue Mountain kelong has added a number of guest rooms that they use mostly for eco-tourists and other who just want to get away from the city life for a while.
While simple and bare, it really was a beautiful place with a lot of charm and very wonderful people. The rooms were neat and clean the the food (served family style) was local and delicious. Aside from fishing, the kelong had about 200 acres of land that was used primarily for farming papayas.
One of the special memories of the trip was that the troop essentially adopted the young son of the family that ran the kelong. While he spoke very little English, Artie spent most of his time that weekend hanging out with the boys and enjoying the rare company of a group of kids. The troop liked Artie so much that he was made an honorary member of Troop 07 on the morning of our departure.
Overall, this was a great experience that we would only have the opportunity to attend living here in southeast Asia. While the scout camping is very different and a bit more difficult to organize, it is worth the it for the experiences that we would never get in Texas.