“I pledge today that I will look after your wellbeing more than my own children for all time to come,” His Majesty the King said during the Army Raising Day on April 24, 2009 in Wangduephodrang.
King’s day and Camp Raven are among the various initiatives under royal command for the well being of the armed service personnel and their families.
King’s Day started in May 2016 as a day where soldiers are given a day leave (24 hrs) without any disturbance to be together with family. Troops observing King’s Day are granted cash in lieu of rations to enjoy a get together with family.
“We the officers are deeply touched by the initiative of His Majesty,” said an officer of the Royal Body Guards (RBG). “It has lifted the moral of the troops.”
Major Sisir Chettri of the Royal Bhutan Police said that the officers are very happy with the initiative. “They are happy not because of one day leave with no disturbances but because of His Majesty’s concern about their lives,” the major said.
Soldiers avail of King’s Day leave in turns and according to their plans. Only troops, not officers, can avail of King’s day since they are the ones who are out there doing the work Major Sisir said.
Officers of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) said that soldiers work hard no matter how difficult the situation and they make a lot of sacrifices. “They really deserve the King’s Day initiative and they are very happy with it,” the officer said.
Camp Raven was started in 2012 to keep children of the armed forces engaged meaningfully during their winter break through music, art, dance and sports.
The objective is also to develop values, responsibility, character building, personal development and life skills for students between classes 8-12 through a 2-3 week program every winter.
Namzay Kumatha said the Camp Raven started with more than 600 children actively participating from 9 AM until 4 PM.
During a camp, guest speakers, actors, comedians are invited to interact and speak to the children. Afternoon is mostly sports.
“We have seen positive impact from the camp especially on the students attending them,” said Namzay Kumatha. “They have improved in their studies and better social relationships with peers and their adults.”
She said that starting this year, they will have 3 weeks of Camp Raven in Samdrup Jongkhar for the children of RBA and RBP during the winter holidays and as of now, they have 221 participants registered for the camp to be hosted at RBA, Deothang.
Major Sisir Chettri of the RBP said that children of troops don’t get time to go for a vacation or a family trip as they do not get holidays like the civil service.“Therefore, the camp is an excellent initiative to can keep their children engaged through the winter holidays without having to worry about them getting into problems due to frustration being home the whole winter,” major Sisir said.
He said camp activities are planned by analyzing the benefits to students. They give courses on youth related crime, health and fitness, career planning, how to be a good citizen, public speaking among others.
“This is the platform where they can showcase their talents, learn new things, know each other and compete. The three armed forces compete whereby those who stand first get a trip to Bumthang,” major Sisir said.
Major Chopen Dorji, RBG said that, “Students are really keen on engaging themselves in a productive way during winter breaks and they want a Camp in which they can learn things and enjoy at the same time, which is exactly what His Majesty’s aim is”.
“For parents it is a thing that their children do something productive instead of lying idle at home or get into something unproductive which can ruin their lives. Parents are thankful that His Majesty’s initiative has really helped them take care and nature the young minds which otherwise would have gone in a wrong direction,” he added.
He said for this winter’s camp 200 students have turned up and registration is still going on. Last year, the turnout was 294 students.
Apart from this His Majesty has ensured the construction of good quality quarters of the armed forces.