BUDGET 2016 - Shaping our future together: Fostering community

$250m Outward Bound campus for Coney Island

Young volunteers who are part of the Outward Bound Singapore’s first outdoor conservation classroom picking up litter in Coney Island on Nov 30, 2015.
Young volunteers who are part of the Outward Bound Singapore’s first outdoor conservation classroom picking up litter in Coney Island on Nov 30, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

A new Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus will be built on Coney Island, as part of efforts to expand outdoor adventure education for all students.

The facility, to cost about $250 million, is expected to be ready around 2020.

It will be the third OBS campus in Singapore. The first two are on nearby Pulau Ubin.

The move is part of a new National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan to help students develop attributes such as resilience and a sense of adventure, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget speech yesterday.

"Many more youth will have the chance to go for an expedition with OBS. These activities will help them build confidence, and develop camaraderie with students across different schools."

Like the OBS campuses on Pulau Ubin, the new facilities "will be rustic and blend in with the rest of the island", he said.

The rest of Coney Island, which is located off Singapore's north-eastern coast, will remain open.

 
 

OBS adopts an experiential learning approach, using the outdoors as its classroom. Designed to help participants gain skills in areas such as teamwork, the activities include a mix of land, water and height elements, such as trekking, kayaking and expeditions.

More details will be released soon by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Ministry of Education.

Educators and parents hailed the move to expand adventure education to include more students.

Loyang Secondary School principal Lee Hak Boon said: "Students tend to have fun when they are outdoors, and they learn best when they have fun.

"They can also pick up life skills - such as how to make decisions or get along with others - naturally through such activities."

Parenting coach Cheren Kwong, 48, who has two teenage sons, said: "Children these days spend a lot of time on their handphones and computers. They don't socialise with others.

"Such outdoor activities will be good for them, allowing them to connect with people and with nature."

Students, too, are supportive.

Second-year Serangoon Junior College student Bryna Foo, 18, said some skills are difficult for teachers to cover in classrooms.

"Students can learn teamwork skills through outdoor activities," she added. "Such activities can also help them de-stress and unwind."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline '$250m Outward Bound campus for Coney Island'. Print Edition | Subscribe