We refer to the recent report(Teens getting too soft? Student campers at OBS with trolleys spark debate, March 17).
The MOE-OBS (Ministry of Education-Outward Bound Singapore) Challenge programme for all 15-year old Singaporeans is first and foremost about bringing together young people from different schools and backgrounds.
This programme, jointly initiated by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and MOE, is administered at the level of the National Youth Council.
This is because the OBS experience is not just about building confidence and resilience for youth, but is also an experience designed to help arrest social stratification and strengthen cohesion.
It starts from the formative schooling years, when young Singaporeans should be given more opportunities to meet and go through common experiences with their peers beyond their schools, co-curricular activities and family social circles.
They should have more interaction time (without handphones or other mobile devices) to undergo a shared endeavour together, and the Outward Bound outdoor expedition challenge is one great opportunity that cannot be replicated in the classroom.
As we progressively increased our Secondary 3 student intake over the last two years, OBS introduced multi-mode and multi-terrain expedition routes across Pulau Ubin and mainland Singapore to avoid over-congestion of our nature spaces.
The different expedition types allow more students with varying physical abilities and fitness levels to participate together in land, water and height activities.
As we develop more and new expedition profiles, OBS needs to experiment with innovative modalities and equipment to facilitate these expeditions.
One such equipment is the trailwalker, which meets our operational requirement to be durable for different types of terrain over longer distances - it was designed to be used for multi-day hiking expeditions with heavier equipment and longer distance.
Safety is extremely important to us and the trailwalker's expedition-tested design allows vertical compression loads on the hiker's back to be reduced.
The trailwalker will not be used by all students. Currently we are concept-testing it with about 10 per cent of the 700 students we take in every week, and will continue to evaluate its effectiveness in providing an inclusive OBS experience for our youth.
Executive Director, Outward Bound Singapore
National Youth Council