Data cards? Checked. Gloves? Checked. Transport arrangements? Checked. I was going through my checklist, determined not to make a fool out of myself in front of 30 ICCS volunteers from the European Union and NUS University Scholars Programme the next morning.
Having volunteered with Toddycats (nature and environment volunteers with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS) at Pandan and Lim Chu Kang Mangroves, and with Nature Society Singapore at Kranji Mudflats, I was now roped in to take on a larger role in one of Singapore’s largest environmental conservation programmes – International Coastal Cleanup Singapore.
It was not just about picking up marine trash anymore. It was about taking the driver’s seat (ok maybe not that of an 80-seater coach); organizing, communicating and executing. The cleanup site (Pulau Ubin Ketam Beach 3) was recced about a week before to ensure that every possible glitch could be avoided.
But of course plans are seldom carried out seamlessly. I was greeted with an enthusiastic bunch of participants and everything went smoothly until a minor hiccup during the briefing at our cleanup site. I did not brief the participants adequately enough to hold their attention for long (or they were just too excited to start the cleanup!). Fortunately, Siva’s (ICCS coordinator) timely interjections made my first experience as site captain a great one.
Everyone went home with bright smiles on their faces knowing that they did something for their environment. And you know it is a decent first job done when you receive an email from one of the volunteers after the cleanup saying ‘Thanks so much for babysitting us, and for being such a great site captain! :)’.
Site Captain, Ketam Beach 3
ICCS Ubin West Zone