EXCITEMENT filled the air as more than 800 youths gathered outside Sultan Azlan Shah hockey stadium in Ipoh to depart for their respective National Service (NS) training camps.
Also present were their parents, who were seen giving words of encouragement and hugs to their children.
Among the young national service trainees was D. Nithyaveni from Pasir Puteh, who will be undergoing the three-month stint at the Tegas Mesra Camp in Selama.
“The training will be a good opportunity for me to serve the country and community.
“My four elder brothers did not get the chance to attend camp, so I’m glad to be selected,” said the former SMK Pengkalan student on Thursday.
Her father, S. Doraisamy, 56, said he was confident Nithyaveni would enjoy her stint at the camp.
“Being an outdoor-oriented person, she is really looking forward to it,” he said.
Former SM Teknik Ipoh student Muhammad Faizul Izwan said he hoped to inspire his two younger siblings with his experience after returning from camp.
“I have read of many positive comments about NS, which has undergone several changes in terms of training and education modules,” said Muhammad Faizul, who was also assigned to the Tegas Mesra Camp.
The 17-year-old from Simpang Pulai said he was not worried that his friends and classmates had been assigned to different camps.
“This will be a terrific chance for me to make new friends,” he added.
Michael Yoong, 17, from Wesley Methodist School Ipoh, was initially worried about missing out on his online social life while at camp.
“But I was relieved to learn that trainees are allowed to use their mobile phones from time to time.
“Nevertheless, I’m excited as the simple life at camp will help me to move away from my comfort zone,” said Yoong, who was bound for the Sinaran Suria camp in Sungkai.
An NS camp commandant, Major Afandey Mat Diah, said most of the youths displayed a positive disposition when they showed up at the pick-up point.
“When the NS programme first started out, trainees usually showed reluctance and seemed dispirited but not anymore,” said Afandey, who heads the Taman Kepimpinan Gemilang camp in Gopeng.
The NS programme that started in December 2003, now has a total of 81 training camps throughout Malaysia.