Oh, What A Night! Camping At The Army Open House 2022

From pitching a tent and sampling combat rations to camping under the stars, there was much to experience and learn at the recent Army Open House 2022 at the F1 Pit Building.

By Sasha Gonzales        28 June 2022

Army Open House has always had a way of bringing families together, and this year’s was no different.

Launched in May to commemorate 55 years of National Service (NS). Army Open House 2022 (AOH22) was themed “Generations of Strength”. The event comprised AOH22 Virtual Exhibition, AOH22@F1 Pit Building, and AOH22@ Heartlands.

After a five-year hiatus, Army Open House returned to the iconic F1 Pit Building. Held from 28 to 30 May and known as the Main Exhibition, AOH22@F1 Pit Building was a fun and exciting experience for visitors of all ages. On the agenda: Interactive activities for them to learn more about the evolution of NS over the past 55 years (NS55) as well as the achievements of our national servicemen in defending and safeguarding Singapore. The Open House later moved to the heartlands – Punggol from 3 to 5 June and Bishan from 10 to 12 June – to reach an even bigger audience.

Families worked together to pitch their tents.

A major highlight of AOH22@F1 Pit Building was SAFRA Family Day Out – NS Family Camp. Organised by SAFRA in conjunction with AOH22, the 2D1N camp was held from 27 to 28 May and was open to Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen), SAFRA members and their families. More than 80 participants from 18 families took part. Visitors were treated to a guided tour of AOH22 and a viewing of the Night Show at the F1 Pit Building; they also got to sample combat ration meals and engage in a series of NS-inspired activities such as tent pitching and a route march, which simulated a Basic Military Training (BMT) graduation parade. After dinner, the campers were treated to performances and a stunning fireworks display.

Happy campers!

Memorable experiences

The camp was a memorable experience for the Teos. It was the first time the three children pitched a tent, and the family enjoyed trying the different activities together while brushing up on their knowledge about the army in the process.

“This Army Open House was very different compared to the one five years ago,” said Mr Kelvin Teo. “It was also a wonderful opportunity for our family to spend quality time together.”

Another family, the Tans, also got a lot out of the camp. The two children helped their father set up and decorate their tent and Mrs Tan said that her favourite part of the event was the route march.

“The march was especially meaningful, because it was like a real NS Passing Out Parade, which in Singapore marks the transition from boyhood to manhood.”

Her son, Asher, shared that he got a thrill out of seeing an army tank, while her daughter, Audra, couldn’t get enough of her combat ration meal – hearty Bolognese pasta.

Senior Minister of State for Defence and SAFRA President Mr Zaqy Mohamad (fourth from left) with camp participants.

For elderly couple Mr Ho Yeng Fatt and Mdm Wee Lay Kuan (above, Mr Ho is third from left and Mdm Wee is first from right), the camp was an eye-opener as they had to learn how to pitch a tent and adjust to sleeping in a completely different environment.

“My grandson managed to get the tent up and in fact, he did it quite well,” shared Mr Ho. “It was quite warm inside the tent that night, we had to change our sleeping positions every now and then in order to get comfortable. Another highlight for us was trying combat rations for the first time – we had a red bean dessert, which was delicious. The route march was fun; not tiring at all because I’m used to walking long distances.”

His wife, Mdm Wee, chimed in, saying that she enjoyed singing army songs and appreciated that the weather remained pleasant the entire time.

Trying out the Soldier Strong Obstacle Course.

The adventure continued the next day as they got to participate in other fun activities during the Main Exhibition. For instance, they got to see the Red Lions conduct a free-fall jump from 5,000ft as part of a segment called Our Army Showcase. Visitors could also try out Singapore’s own SAR 21 rifle and hone their sharpshooting skills at the “Be A Marksman” firing range, and test their fitness and agility at the Soldier Strong Obstacle Course. Plus, they got to ride some of the SAF’s military platforms, from the Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle to the Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

At night, they enjoyed a pyrotechnics display, a military tattoo, and performances by So Drama! Entertainment.

SAFRA membership promotions

Visitors to AOH22@F1 Pit Building were invited to check out the SAFRA booth, which was a hub of activity. This was where they could sign up for SAFRA membership promotions, including 50% off 2-year or 5-year Principal membership fees. Every sign-up or renewal had a chance at a Sure-Win Lucky Spin, with prizes like Shaw movie tickets, sports towels and more all up for grabs, while stocks lasted.

The popular Instagram contest at the SAFRA booth.

The SAFRA @ AOH2022 Instagram Contest was held at the SAFRA booth. Participants were asked to take a photo at the booth before sharing their most memorable experience in SAFRA and uploading the photo on their personal Instagram page. The top 10 entries each scored $50 SAFRA Rewards vouchers.

Senior Minister of State for Defence and SAFRA President Mr Zaqy Mohamad visited the Family Camp and officiated the opening ceremony. During his visit, he engaged families who pitched tents at the designated campsite.

Thank you NSmen!

All the participating campers were also invited to a salute campaign together with SMS Zaqy, to do a salute to give thanks and appreciation to all NSmen.

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