Ask any NCC cadet from the Tamil Nadu contingent, who participated in the Republic Day Camp (RDC) in New Delhi, on their biggest challenge and pat comes the reply — the biting cold and the practice from 5 a.m.

A few of them even mentioned the chilly mornings to Governor Surjit Singh Barnala while sharing their experiences at a felicitation ceremony for them organised at Raj Bhavan here on Friday.

The contingent, comprising cadets of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, won the second position in the RDC 2011. This apart, it won a host of other prizes, both individually and as a team.

Ankita Singh and Abhishek Datta, who won gold and silver medals at the Best Cadet competition respectively, are happy that engineering students were selected for the camp.

“From over 1.56 lakh cadets, nearly 106 were selected. I have already missed one month of college, but participating in the camp was an experience of a lifetime,” said Ms. Singh, pursuing bio-medical engineering at SRM University and who wants to join the defence services. She was also selected as one of the VIP commentators and got to attend tea parties and introduce various dignitaries.

Mr. Datta, pursuing second year EEE at SRM University, said: “I gave four lab examinations in a single day and took a break for the practice.”

Chris Sneha, who won the silver medal and is a class IX student at R.S. Krishnan Higher Secondary School, Tiruchi, said she would attend full-time classes after six months.

Responding to a question of a cadet on how women could contribute to the nation building process, Mr. Barnala said that if women were empowered, half the population is empowered and thus the country.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the function, Commodore Sartaj Imam, Deputy Director-General, NCC Directorate (Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands), said the Directorate was keen on more cadets participating in the camp next year. “The Union government has approved an increase in the number of cadets from this region and we are waiting for the State government to agree,” he said.