When I was in primary school, I joined a mathematics camp known as the Kem Kecemerlangan Matematik for a total of five times, twice in 2005 when I was in Standard 4 and thrice in 2006 when I was in Standard 5. Most of my friends thought that I was very lucky to be able to join the camp. But in reality, I did not enjoy joining the mathematics camp. You will know why if you continue reading this post.
When I entered Standard 4, my school made it compulsory for every student to take part in at least one co-curricular activity. I chose to join the Mathematics Society, as my favourite subject was mathematics.
At first, I faced some problems in the Mathematics Society. I was not able to answer many of the maths questions, because the questions were at secondary school level. However, I was lucky that my grandfather is good at mathematics so he could teach me, and the teacher in charge never gave up on me. A few months later, there was a mathematics quiz. It was held in SRK Tunku Abdul Malik, Kulim. The teacher wanted three students to take part but there were only two. So, the teacher invited me to take part and I agreed.
My grandparents were happy that I could take part. My grandfather taught me a lot before the quiz. After the quiz, my grandfather checked my question paper and said I answered 15 out of 21 questions correctly. On the second day, I was so shocked when my teacher told me that I was ranked first in the whole district for the quiz. The principal then announced about that during the school assembly. However, much to my disappointment, I did not get any prize for that. Instead, I was asked to join the Kem Kecemerlangan Matematik for 4 days and 3 nights at Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel, Penang.
My grandparents followed me there. There, I had to attend mathematics tutorial for the first 3 days and then take part in a competition on the last day. I did not like the fact that the maths tutorials lasted for the whole day, which made me feel bored. During the tutorials, I usually had to sit at the back of the class so I could not see the whiteboard clearly. The teachers usually taught in Malay language but at that time I was still not good at Malay. Before I went there, I thought that I could have some time to swim in the hotel's swimming pool. It had been almost a year since I last went swimming. However, there was no time for that at all because of the tutorials. There was a glass window in the room where the tutorial was held and the swimming pool was just outside the window. I admired the people swimming very much and I really wished I could go swimming instead of attending the boring tutorial. One day during break time, I stood in front of the window to watch people swimming. I thought the tutorial would resume in a short while, not realising that it would actually continue only at night, because I did not bring along the timetable and I saw the other students leaving their bags on their chairs. I also did not notice that there were only a few students left in that room so I continued standing in front the window instead of leaving the room. Then, my grandfather who was waiting outside came in to call me. My grandparents scolded me for not being aware that the tutorial was over.
Two months later, I was asked to join another Kem Kecemerlangan Matematik at Langkasuka Hotel, Langkawi. I did not want to join but my grandparents kept asking me to join. At that time, my aunt and cousin from Australia came to Kulim to visit us. I was very happy about that because I missed them a lot. Then, I told my grandparents that I would join the mathematics camp if they agree to these conditions: my aunt and cousin must follow along, my cousin must attend the tutorials with me if the teacher allows, and they must stay in Kulim for one more week after returning from Langkawi. They agreed with this, so we went to Langkawi together. However, there were no vacant rooms in Langkasuka Hotel. Therefore, my grandparents stayed in the Continental Hotel located next to Langkasuka Hotel, but my aunt and cousin stayed in Langkawi Lagoon Hotel which was located very far away. My cousin did not attend the tutorial with me as promised. Then, my aunt and cousin told me that they would go back to Australia on the 3rd day of my mathematics camp. I was very upset that they did not keep their promise. My grandfather told me that since the beginning he was actually lying to me about the promise, just to make me join the camp which in his opinion would be helpful for my future. I wanted to leave the mathematics camp and go home immediately, but he refused to let me do so.
Eventually, I did not perform well in the competition due to my poor mood, so I was knocked out. A few months later, I got a certificate for my participation in the mathematics camp. On the following year, when I was Standard 5, I did not want to join the Mathematics Society again. Instead, I chose to join the Chinese Chess Society. However, the Chinese Chess Society was soon closed and I had no choice but to take part in the Mathematics Society. Again, I participated in the mathematics quiz. Two of my friends went with me this time. However, I did not perform as well as I did in the previous year. Still, I and my friends had the opportunity to join the Kem Kecemerlangan Matematik at Cititel Hotel, Penang.
Once again, I was not happy during the mathematics camp. I stayed with my friends this time but my grandparents still followed along. At Cititel Hotel, we had to scan the room card in order to use the lift. We also had to insert the room card to have electricity in our room. One day, I could not use the lift because I left the card in the room so that the air-conditioner could remain on, while my friends brought their cards with them. My grandfather said that I was stupid to make such a sacrifice for my friends. One morning, my grandfather telephoned me and I told him that my friend was still sleeping. I did not know that my friend had already went for breakfast. Later, my friend told my grandparents that he already had breakfast, so my grandfather thought that I was lying to him. Because of those incidents, I was scolded badly by my grandfather.
After that, I and my friends were asked to join another mathematics camp in Berjaya Hotel, Penang. I told my grandparents that I did not want to join and I brought up the incidents in the previous camp, saying that they should not have scolded me. Consequently, I was once again scolded by my grandfather and he forced me to join this mathematics camp. However, this camp turned out to be the happiest one compared to the other camps. I once again stayed with my friends. On the first night, my parents followed along while for the rest of the nights, my grandparents followed along. Nevertheless, there were some issues. My father was disappointed with me because he felt that I was not independent enough. Besides, my mother accidentally placed my wet towel in my bag, causing some clothes to be wet, and my grandmother was upset about that. Even though I explained to my grandmother that it was my mother who did that, she didn't really believe me. However, these issues were just small issues compared to those in the other camps.
Later, I and my friends were once again asked to join a mathematics camp at Langkasuka Hotel, Langkawi for 5 days and 4 nights. This time, my grandparents did not force me to join, but I voluntarily chose to join. At that time, I lost the book I borrowed from the school library and my teacher was going to punish anyone who lost their book, but by joining the camp I could avoid the punishment since I would not be in school. Unfortunately, this camp ended up being the worst of all the camps I joined, as many unhappy incidents happened. My grandparents followed along again and this time I stayed in my grandparents' room. When we arrived at the jetty in Langkawi, I wanted to go to the toilet, so I followed my friend there. My grandfather came to look for us. He was unhappy because he thought that I just wanted to accompany my friend. When we returned to where everyone was waiting, everyone had gone except my grandmother who was still there. My grandfather asked me to follow him to look for the others. He did not see my grandmother, and I was not quite sure what was happening so I just followed him. My grandmother was angry as she had to carry all the bags by herself and run to catch up with us. When we arrived at the hotel, I was scolded by my grandparents. My grandfather said that it was stupid for me to accompany my friend while my grandmother said that I should not have left her alone. They also brought up the issue where I complained about the food when I attended my mother-side grandfather's dinner 2 days ago and scolded me for that.
One afternoon during the mathematics camp, I went to the room for the tutorial but there was no one there. My grandparents asked the hotel worker about that and the hotel worker said that the other students were going on a tour around Langkawi. Luckily, the bus waited for me so I could go along. As expected, my grandparents scolded me because of that. I did pay attention to what the teacher said, but I really did not know that there would be a tour on that afternoon. During the tutorial on that morning, I had a stomach ache so I went to the toilet, and the teacher probably told us about the tour at that time so I missed out on that. On the following night, I forgot to take my bag back to the hotel room after the tutorial, and my grandparents scolded me again. Then, when we went back home after the camp, we accidentally left one of our bags in the taxi. My grandparents blamed me for not helping them to take the bag.
After that experience, I told myself that I would never join any mathematics camp again. I thought I had performed poorly in the competition and would be knocked out. However, I and my friends were once again called to join a mathematics camp on the following year. I definitely did not want to join, especially that it was held during Chinese New Year and I had an exam immediately after that. My grandparents did not force me to join but they wanted me to write 'Yes' on the consent letter before making a decision. I did not want to listen to them, so I wrote 'No' on the letter and placed a tape on it so that it could not be changed. My grandparents scolded me for doing that because they felt that my action was an insult to the education department which issued the letter. In the end, I did not join the mathematics camp.
Since then, I continued to take part in other mathematics competitions, but I would never join a mathematics camp again. Now you know why I did not enjoy joining the camp.