Setting aside your comfortable lives for 15 days of gruelling military training will give you tougher, stronger characters, a PLA veteran told a group of Hong Kong youngsters at a summer camp at the weekend. On Sunday, 150 boys and 50 girls started a 15-day stay at the People's Liberation Army barracks in San Wai, Fanling, to undergo intensive physical training and live the life of discipline. The training will include military drills, use of weapons and defence theory. This is the fourth annual military summer camp for the city's young people at the PLA garrison. More than 500 Form Three and Four students - all recommended by their headmasters - applied for the 200 places this year. The new 'recruits', wearing long-sleeved, camouflage uniforms and heavy leather boots, endured an hour of muggy weather to parade publicly for the first time in yesterday's opening ceremony. Their steps were unsynchronised and a little chaotic compared to the PLA soldiers beside them, and some appeared uneasy in the demanding conditions. Lau Mei-yee, 18, one of the girls, was concerned about the gruelling training, but said she would try her utmost to rise to the challenge. Luxury items, such as MP3 players, snacks and soft drinks were prohibited, she said. Sleeping without air conditioning and waking up at 6am was a challenge. But Jonathan Kwok Chun-wai, 15, a graduate of last year's military camp, encouraged the newcomers to stand up to the hardship they faced. 'They may find they are unused to the disciplined life at the beginning ... but they will get used to it in stages during the camp. Eventually, they'll miss it,' he said. Garrison commander Major General Zhang Shibo said the camp aims at helping students to strengthen their national identity and foster tough characters. The camp was originally proposed by Betty Tung Chiu Hung-ping, wife of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.