It has been more than 40 years since sisters Margaret and Monica Heng embarked on their journey of self-discovery at the then-Outward Bound School of Singapore, but they recall their experience with amazing clarity.
Margaret laughs about the time her watch-mate had to perform a rope crossing, with nothing but the river beneath them.
“If you stop, you’ll really be scared and your fear will overcome you,” she says. “But when you reach the end, everybody will clap and say ‘yay, you made it!’”
The Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) we are familiar with today was first established in 1967 by Dr Goh Keng Swee, then-Minister for Defence. To meet the challenges of post-independence, OBS was set up at Dr Goh’s suggestion to help build a “rugged society” that would instill a spirit of tenacity in Singaporeans.
Margaret completed the 21-day Classic Challenge in 1972, and her sister Monica followed suit in 1973.
Says Monica: “We learnt to cooperate with each other as well as take of ourselves at the same time. There are times when you’re stretched to the limit, and you ask yourself, ‘can I do it?’ or ‘dare I do it?’”
50 years on as a division under the National Youth Council (NYC), OBS continues to bond Singaporeans and forge resilience to take on the challenges of an uncertain world. Through the new development on Coney Island, OBS will play a larger and more important role in developing our young Singaporeans.
Come Sep 16, OBS will be opening its doors to all its past participants for its Homecoming Day on Pulau Ubin. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Outward Bounders will get to rekindle their OBS experience with their old watch-mates, or try out different outdoor adventure activities with family and friends.
Have a go at height activities like abseiling and rock climbing, and water activities like rafting, tri-yaking and the iconic jetty jump.
Avid hikers and spelunkers will get to go on nature trails and explore the tunnels and caves on the island. Campcraft, medical and outdoor cooking stations will complete the experience with useful tips from the professionals.
OBS is also inviting past participants to contribute their memories at the Homecoming event, by penciling their stories at the photo booth or bringing old photographs to be digitized. On top of that, limited edition OBS50 memorabilia will be given as tokens of appreciation.
This article is sponsored by the National Youth Council.