Outward Bound Singapore turns 50; Tender for new OBS Coney Island campus opens

Participants of the OBS Homecoming event. PHOTO: OUTWARD BOUND SINGAPORE
Mdm Tong Chong Chiu and her husband Mr Ong Tiong Hin at the OBS Homecoming event. PHOTO: OUTWARD BOUND SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - A tender for consultancy services for the new Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus and sea operations centre on Coney Island opened two days ago (Sept 14), and will close on Oct 9.

The tender for shortlisted vendors is for the study and design of development works including architecture, landscape design, as well as mechanics and engineering.

It was announced in April last year (2016) that the campus will be where a five-day expedition-based camp will held from 2020. The camp will be made compulsory for all Secondary 3 students.

OBS' executive director Nicholas Conceicao said that the evaluation will be quite "thorough" in assessing a good design concept and will look at "which consultancy firm will give us the best value for money".

On Saturday (Sept 16), more than 500 OBS alumni gathered on Pulau Ubin for the first OBS Homecoming event. Held in conjunction with OBS' 50th Anniversary, they tried out outdoor adventure activities like the jetty jump, triyaking, abseiling and flying fox.

Since OBS started in 1967, more than 500,000 Singaporeans have tried their hand at overcoming different outdoor challenges.

Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, who helped to unearth a OBS time capsule from 1997 at the event, went for the 21-day programme as an officer cadet in 1980.

"OBS not only teaches young people to push past their limits, to challenge themselves to be the best that they can be; OBS teaches them to do so together, as one," he said.

"Even though I may not remember the technical steps of each challenge, I will never forget the cheers of my teammates when I needed encouragement, or the real sense of triumph we all felt when one teammate pushed past his limits."

Mr Heng added that OBS is also considering new equipment, such as outrigger kayaks and whaler pulling boats, to provide new experiences for participants.

Going back to Pulau Ubin for the first time since their last OBS experience triggered fond memories for some participants like Madam Tong Chong Chiu, 67.

Then a primary school teacher, attending the 21-day programme more than 40 years ago (in 1974) helped her to overcome her fear of heights. She recalled jumping between platforms secured to trees, despite worrying that she might get injured a week before her wedding.

"I think it's very good for young people. It's a way to get them together, to build confidence and camaraderie," she said.

Another ex-participant Monica Heng, 64, said that students today are lucky because everyone gets a chance to go for OBS.

"During school days, there were limited slots and normally the school would award these slots to the best students (academically), so we never get to go," said the housewife.

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