So, you’ve just graduated from polytechnic or junior college. For the guys, that means you’re one step closer to national service.
While some of you may be excited for the next two years of your lives, some of you are probably nervous about what’s to come. Maybe your mind is buzzing with questions regarding the first 2 (or 4, depending on your physical fitness) months of Basic Military Training (BMT) — we’ve all been there.
We asked some of our ex-NSF friends for some of the tips they wish someone had told them prior to enlisting and here are some of our top tips to survive BMT. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
1. Always have a bottle of prickly heat/powder with you
This powder is going to be a lifesaver, especially if your feet tend to get sweaty.
The prickly heat/talcum powder will keep your feet dry, and foot rot (i.e. Athlete’s Foot) at bay. We’ve seen our fair share of foot rot; it’s itchy, it’s painful… You don’t want to have to deal with it while undergoing your training.
Also, there will be times when you don’t get to take a shower, like when you’re outfield, or when there is just not enough time. In these cases, a powder bath will help keep you clean(er) and smelling better.
2. Have a bottle of fabric refresher in your room
As we mentioned earlier, personal time (or ‘admin time’) can be tight. You usually have just an hour or so, sometimes even lesser, which means there will be days when you have no time to wash your clothes.
Imagine wearing a smart 4 or long 4 that smells like three-day old sweat. It does not feel good. Spraying your clothes with fabric refresher will keep them smelling nice and feeling fresh, even if you haven’t washed them in days. It also has anti-bacterial qualities, so your clothes do actually get cleaner, even if slightly.
Go ahead and spray it on anything else that starts to stink—your socks, your bed, your field pack.
3. Bring a portable charger in with you
Gone are the days when NS boys needed to get a no-camera phone for NS, which usually came with a longer battery life. These days, you can bring your smartphones in, and we all know how weak the battery life can be.
Unlike in the outside world where you can conveniently stick your charger into an outlet and charge your phone whenever, you don’t get this luxury in NS.
You won’t be allowed to use the wall sockets in camp (Tekong) to charge your phones. Officers and sergeants have shared that there’s limited electrical power in Tekong, so it’s to prevent the island from possible power shortage. So it’s best to bring additional battery packs or a portable charger to power your phone and keep you in contact with your loved ones on the outside.
4. You can never have too much black tape
Buy and bring as much black tape as you want into camp because in the army, there’s no such thing as too much black tape. Whatever the amount of black tape SAF is providing you, buy more, because you’ll need it.
Black tape is one of the handiest, most multi-functional tools you can have with you in the army. If anything breaks or tears, that’s your solution. Glasses broken? Black tape. Sandals snapped? Black tape.
They also come in very handy during marches. When out on a march, one way to make your field pack feel lighter is to tighten all the adjustable straps all the way. To keep the straps from dangling off and slapping you as you march, fold them up and tape them up with black tape.
5. Bring plenty of coins
Bring plenty of coins into camp. Collect whatever coins you have lying around your room or loose change your family members want to offload, and take them into camp with you.
After being in the sun all day, there’s nothing like downing a refreshing, ice cold drink. You’ll be able to get your hands on these at the vending machines in camp.
6. Bring more hangers—especially those with clips
While fabric refreshers, powder, and deodorant are great for keeping your clothes smelling and feeling relatively fresh, nothing beats putting on some clothes that are actually clean.
Given your limited personal area, and the strict rule that you have to keep it neat and tidy, drying your laundry can be a pain without the right tools. Having plenty of hangers means you can hang all your clothes neatly, without taking up too much space. If you can, bring in hangers that come with clips; they’re great for small items like socks and underwear.
Also, use a marker to mark all your hangers. This will help you distinguish your own clothes from the rest because it’s not uncommon for NSFs’ clothes—admin tees, admin shorts, pants—to get mixed up and for pieces to go missing.
7. Go in with a good attitude and an open mind
When it comes to BMT, attitude makes all the difference.
There will be tough times. The training and going outfield can all be tough. But try going into all these things with an open mind, free of preconceived notions. You’ll be surprised by how much better the experience will be.
8. Love your mates because they will be your friends for a lifetime
NS is the time you make mates that are for life. Many of us have made friendships in there that are still going strong to this day. After seeing each other every day and enduring tough times together, you forge a bond you truly can’t find elsewhere.
Love your mates and don’t take lightly the relationships you make in the army. You never know how long these guys will stick around in your life.
9. Don’t spend all your money during your time in NS
Being in camp all week, virtually everything you need is provided for. That means it’s actually the best time to save money for more important or necessary things in the future, like a driver’s license, a laptop, or even a house, further down the line.
From an old NSmen to a young NSF, one of the things we wish we had done more of was save the money we made while in NS. Partying a little less hard could have done our bank accounts a world of good. With that, our final tip is to save at least some money during your 2 years of NS. You never know when you’ll need it.
These days, it is easier for NSFs to save money and grow their savings with POSB Save As You Serve (SAYS).
This savings programme is the only initiative in Singapore that is designed specifically for NSFs.
It consists of a POSB Save As You Earn (SAYE) savings account which allows you to earn 2% p.a. interest on your monthly savings, AND your choice of having the SAFRA DBS or HomeTeamNS-PAssion-POSB Debit Cards to enjoy 2% cash rebate on contactless MasterCard® transactions!
Step 1: Choose a debiting POSB/DBS account to be linked to your POSB Save As You Earn (SAYE) Account
Step 2: Open a POSB SAYE Account
- Save any amount monthly (min. of S$50)
- Pick your preferred date for the savings to be credited into the POSB SAYE Account
Step 3: Chill and watch your monthly savings grow.
And if you’re keen to enjoy the additional benefits that come with the debit cards,
Step 4: Apply for a SAFRA DBS or HomeTeamNS-PAssion-POSB Debit Card, and enjoy access to SAFRA or HomeTeamNS facilities. Plus, exclusive privileges at over 3,000 merchants islandwide!
For a limited time only, sign up for POSB SAYS and get up to S$74 worth of rewards, including a pair of Shaw Theatres IMAX® movie vouchers worth S$44, and up to S$30 cashback (promo T&Cs apply).
So the next time you book out, you can reward yourself with a treat to the next blockbuster at Shaw Theatres IMAX®!
What’s more, look out for special monthly deals in celebration of POSB’s 140th anniversary and NS50 from now till November!
This post was brought to you by POSB.