OBS can take youngsters back to nature

It has been announced that Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) will be developing a new campus on Coney Island ("$250m Outward Bound campus for Coney Island"; March 25).

I have no doubt about OBS' record of building confidence, outdoor skill and teamwork in the youngsters who have gone through its outdoor adventure education (OAE) programmes.

I have seen the benefits of its Back To Basics programme and would be excited to see it extend its OAE principles to a "Back To Nature" programme.

Currently, the young unplug from technology during OBS programmes.

The new OBS campus on Coney Island is a golden opportunity to also provide a living environment where the young would be able to immerse themselves in nature.

Imagine sleeping with the sound of crickets and frogs, and waking up to the songs of birds and a forest staring back at you.

It would be great if the built environment in this new campus allows this to happen.

It would do the young, brought up in our urban world, a big favour.

Some have called this urban disconnection with the natural world "nature-deficit disorder".

Our young need to reconnect with their senses - sight, hearing, smell and touch - through nature. I am certain that elements of nature appreciation and environmental education can be embedded into OAE programmes.

We should take every opportunity to bring out the beauty, connections and importance of taking care of the natural environment, including the protection of wild habitats. A week at OBS will not save the earth, but I am hopeful that it would instil in our youngsters a sense of wonder and appreciation for the outdoors and nature.

With appreciation comes love and with love comes caring and the desire to do something.

It would start on the small island of Coney and extend to the big island of Singapore.

Leong Kwok Peng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'OBS can take youngsters back to nature'. Print Edition | Subscribe