OBS alumni to re­unite on its 50th birth­day

The New Paper - - NEWS - AU­DREY LEONG

Out­ward Bound Sin­ga­pore’s home­com­ing event will be held to­mor­row

More than 500 Out­ward Bound Sin­ga­pore (OBS) alumni will re­unite at Pu­lau Ubin for the first time to­mor­row in a home­com­ing event held in con­junc­tion with the in­sti­tu­tion’s 50th an­niver­sary.

Among them will be Ms Wee Ah Yong, 60, a semi-re­tired real es­tate agent, who will be tak­ing part in ac­tiv­i­ties such as triyak­ing, the iconic jetty jump, ab­seil­ing and the fly­ing fox.

Ms Wee was a Se­condary 4 stu­dent at First Toa Payoh Se­condary School when she at­tended a 21-day women-only ad­ven­ture course with OBS.

“I re­mem­ber on the first day of camp, we lay in the hot af­ter­noon sun in a big field. We also walked across a 6m-high sus­pended rope tied across two trees. We had to do it. Back then, fear was not in our minds,” she told The New Pa­per.

When her hus­band’s niece, who works in OBS, asked her if she would be will­ing to be part of the pro­mo­tional video for OBS’ Home­com­ing Day cel­e­bra­tions, she read­ily agreed.

DAUNT­ING

Last month, she found her­self hav­ing to ne­go­ti­ate the sus­pended rope in Pu­lau Ubin again.

Ms Wee said: “From the ground up, it did not look so daunt­ing. But when I got up there, be­cause it was driz­zling, the plat­form was slip­pery, which made it quite scary.

“I told my­self, ‘Since I am al­ready up, I might as well just fin­ish the course’.”

OBS, which is part of the Na­tional Youth Coun­cil, was es­tab­lished in 1967 by New Zealan­ders Hamish Thomas and Al Cameron to build a “rugged so­ci­ety” that was ready to meet chal­lenges and help en­sure Sin­ga­pore’s sur­vival as a newly in­de­pen­dent na­tion at the time.

Since then, more than 500,000 Sin­ga­pore­ans have un­der­gone its cour­ses and from 2020, all Sec 3 stu­dents here will have to take part in a five-day OBS ex­pe­di­tion-based camp.

The first OBS course was on Feb 17, 1968.

Those who have taken part since in­clude Fi­nance Min­is­ter Heng Swee Keat, who will be the guest-of-hon­our for Home­com­ing Day, where the time cap­sule buried in 1997 will be dug up.

Mr Ed­van Loh, deputy di­rec­tor of ca­pa­bil­ity and sec­tor de­vel­op­ment in the Na­tional Youth Coun­cil, at­tended the OBS course in 1985.

He said: “In the first 25 years, the school was sit­u­ated on a gran­ite quarry. Now, we are work­ing to­wards ex­pand­ing into Coney Is­land. It is ex­cit­ing.

“With the ex­pan­sion, 40,000 Sec 3 stu­dents will have the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend OBS an­nu­ally. Cur­rently, 14,000 Sec 3 stu­dents at­tend OBS an­nu­ally.”

On her re­turn to OBS af­ter 45 years, Ms Wee said: “Ev­ery­thing is so mod­ern now; the dor­mi­to­ries used to be ‘rugged’.

“Our ab­seil­ing was done off an ac­tual cliff — now they have a con­crete wall.”

leongkla@sph.com.sg

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