Many benefits to reap from outdoor adventure education

OBS participants at the Inverse Tower.
OBS participants at the Inverse Tower. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

I welcome the move to expand outdoor adventure education (OAE) for all students ("$250m Outward Bound campus for Coney Island"; last Friday, and "OBS set to be rugged new melting pot"; yesterday).

OAE provides a platform of education that goes far beyond what the traditional classroom can offer.

Due to the nature of experiential learning in the natural outdoor environment, lessons learnt are more likely to be ingrained and can exert a stronger influence on an individual's attitudes and habits.

Years ago, I decided to take a year off my medical career to pursue my passion in outdoor adventure.

I undertook several mountain-climbing expeditions and challenged myself to scale Mount Everest.

These experiences not only tested my limits and challenged my notions of leadership, self-reliance, perseverance and adaptability, but they also led me on a journey of self-discovery about my own physical, mental and emotional strengths.

Team-based OAE like the programmes Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) offers presents other advantages.

It encourages individuals from different backgrounds to work together to overcome obstacles, and, in the process, helps them develop strong camaraderie and bonds.

During my mountain expeditions, I developed friendships with many other determined individuals, including the Sherpas, who aided us with their unparalleled motivation and will.

There was no need to differentiate ourselves in terms of race, religion, language and social backgrounds as we learnt to work effectively together.

We can be confident that shared experiences through OAE can help cultivate broadened minds and cohesion in our society - much needed in our multicultural, multiracial Singaporean community.

As we nurture a new generation of youth, it is also important to prepare them for greater competitive pressures, by equipping them with the confidence and resilience to overcome the challenges and uncertainties they are bound to face.

It is my hope that the new OBS campus on Coney Island can offer even more interesting and challenging expeditions that make use of Singapore's other nature parks and water areas, by connecting beyond the small area - 10 per cent - it will occupy as part of Coney Island ("New Outward Bound Singapore campus to occupy 10% of Coney Island; 45,000 youth to take part every year by 2020"; ST Online, Wednesday).

Doing this will also encourage our youth to appreciate Singapore's nature offering and rich biodiversity.

I am confident that our youth will benefit richly from this.

Kumaran Rasappan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'Many benefits to reap from outdoor adventure education'. Print Edition | Subscribe