Fresh off the fire of the recent youth conference, Emerge Varsity’s inter-varsity event Race To Dawn was a smash success.
For a month before their big event, undergraduates from City Harvest Church, with strong zeal nascent from the Emerge Week a month back, went around their campuses with flyers in one arm and a sign-up sheet in the other.
The flyers advertized Race To Dawn (R2D), an Emerge Varsity (EV) event that promised a fun-filled day—and night—of food, games and cycling.
The invitations went “global” at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) which was hosting students from an assortment of overseas universities that season.
A few rounds of texting after some flyer distributions had yielded 40 non-member sign-ups. Coupled with the inter-varsity efforts to reach out to fellow collegiate peers, the numbers eventually hit a final total of 81 new friends who would later join 301 EV members at the event.
Six hours before the start of the event on Jul 27, EV members were already at East Coast Park to “book” pavilions. This significant task bore fruit at 1pm when buses at Suntec and Bedok began ferrying attendees to the park.
Decked in varsity colors, the young people began streaming towards their respective pavilions. Green was SIM; yellow, National University of Singapore (NUS) and red, Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The blue group was made up of Singapore Management University (SMU) undergrads, allied with private universities like Lasalle College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), and the Singapore Institute of Technology—collectively self-named “Chapalang” (meaning “mixed bag” in Singlish).
Jeremy Goh, 18, a NAFA student said, “Chapalang was a really unique name that was so accurate: people from different tertiary institutions uniting under one faction.”
BATTLE OF THE VARSITIES
The Battle of the Varsities—first of four components in R2D—started off in a flurry as the entire EV broke into teams and scampered from the starting point to the many game stations scattered around the vicinity.
One of the stations, which this writer was game master of, was “Shoot Or Shot”, where two teams stand beside each other 5m away from a basin of water and an umbrella. A representative from each team would play Rock, Paper, Scissors each round, and the winner gets to use a bowl in the basin while the loser has to grab the umbrella quickly to defend himself or herself. At the end, the driest team wins.
Other stations made teams perform fun and sometimes crazy feats like forming the longest line possible on the ground using only one’s limbs, answering questions ranging from general knowledge to mathematics and everything in between, even a competition to empty a pail of water by soaking a cloth and squeezing out the water.
Of course, team members routinely attempted to ingratiate themselves with the game masters to score more points.
As the games wound down, the apparently inexhaustible participants were famished and settled down on mats set out around the pavilions. The picnic proceeded with a convivial atmosphere as freshmen, sophomores, and upperclassmen furthered their acquaintance in a time of jokes and sharing.
SHARING A MEAL AND CHRIST
As the sun set and the youth began to relax—with tealights creating an ambiance of warmth—a few members from each collegiate faction began sharing their rousing testimonies. There were 15 who accepted Jesus that night.
“I felt the presence of God so strongly during the session; the people were genuinely hungry for a touch from God,” said Ryan Pang, 24, an SMU student.
Next came the night cycling session. This writer was one in a team that handled logistics concurrently with the picnic still going on, moving bicycles from the bicycle shop to the lorry, and from the lorry to the starting point. It was no mean feat—there were hundreds of participants and hundreds of bicycles, single and tandem.
Before the cycling commenced, the teams played a game of Song Charades (guess the
After much brouhaha during the charades, a short appearance by division pastor, Rev. Wu Yuzhuang and a group photo, the night cycling commenced in earnest.
The final destination was the iconic Lau Pa Sat, newly reopened after a year of renovation. But teams first had to complete a mission of forming a phrase with lettered ice-cream sticks scattered all over the lamp posts in the car park, midway at Kallang Leisure Park.
Lau Pa Sat held a simpler and more enticing mission, one of food. Knowing only the first and last dishes, teams had to link them with other dishes. The rule is that the first letter of each dish’s name has the same as the last of the previous dish’s.
Downtown Core was a captivating sight, but what is man-made cannot be compared to what nature offers. The returning participants of Race To Dawn, indeed, raced to dawn, beholding the sunrise before them as they pedaled forth to the finish—a total of around 25km.
At the end of event, the results were announced and prizes were given out; the NUS faction won in a clear victory.
Lin Min Hui, 22, a matriculating NUS freshman, said, “I had good company and a great night view! Chatting while cycling with friends was really fun and exhilarating.”