Sixteen-year-old Wong Hiu-shuen thought she needed a change when she realised she was taking things like clean clothes and wholesome food for granted. That was when she plucked up the courage to take part in the 'life-changing' military summer camp with the People's Liberation Army, which was jointly organised by the Education Bureau. 'I used to live in easy comfort and take everything for granted. But now I'm a different person,' she said yesterday at the graduation ceremony at the PLA barracks in San Wai, Fanling, alongside more than 200 other participants, all secondary school pupils aged between 15 and 18. 'The process was very difficult because we had to get up early and make our beds perfectly within a minute and 30 seconds, among other things soldiers do every day. Now even at home I wash my own clothes and make my bed quickly.' Participants underwent intensive physical training and experienced a regimented life in the 15-day camp. The training included military drills, defence theory as well as national education. The students, who wore long-sleeved camouflage uniforms and heavy leather boots, endured an hour under the hot sun to parade publicly in the ceremony which was officiated by the city's former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. Their marching was slightly out of cadence compared to the PLA soldiers who led them. However, their efforts in marching, doing several martial art moves and singing won them big rounds of applause from their parents and fellow soldiers on the grandstand. This was the seventh annual military summer camp for the city's young people at the PLA garrison. To date, more than 1,200 young Hongkongers have participated in the military programme. Camp captain Yi Pengfei said the camp helped students strengthen their national identity and foster tough characters. 'They have improved a lot, compared with when they first came here. Now they have greater stamina and can take care of themselves better,' he said. The camp was the idea of Tung's wife, who gave a speech applauding the young people's efforts.