MOE-OBS Challenge programme returns with two-day residential format

The original five-day residential format of the programme is set to return in 2023.

Muhd Zahin Ilmi

Sports enthusiast and expert overthinker.

Published: 29 July 2022, 7:18 PM

The Ministry of Education (MOE) – Outward Bound School (OBS) Challenge (MOC) resumed earlier this year in May following a hiatus due to COVID-19.

The MOC programme now returns with a two-day residential format, as opposed to its usual five-day format.

With the aim to provide outdoor learning opportunities to secondary three students, OBS curated a series of activities centred around its four pillars of physical fitness, self-reliance, craftsmanship and compassion. 

On the first day of the MOC, students are exposed to activities such as icebreakers and problem solving games that promote team building. This allows the students to familiarise themselves with each other and their instructors.

Students will also be given a first aid briefing upon arrival at Pulau Ubin, where food rations are distributed and camp expectations are set.

The main activity during the first day of the MOC is the land expedition, which aims to give students the opportunity to hike around Pulau Ubin in their groups and explore its rich flora and fauna.

While the hiking distance varies with each group’s objective, the hike will enable all students to learn and apply basic navigation skills such as the use of compasses that will be taught prior to the expedition.

For Sembawang Secondary School student Xenson Eng, 15, who attended the MOC programme on Jul 27 and 28, the land expedition was a highly memorable experience for him.

Apart from it being his first time participating in such an activity, it was also unforgettable due to an incident that occurred during the hike.

He shared: “There was one injury during my group’s hike, but we all came together to help him carry some of his heavy items. We also kept checking in on him and regularly asked him to hydrate himself. I think what really helped him was our encouragement as well.

“He was very helpful, and without him, we wouldn’t have been able to navigate our way through the hike. That’s why we should always care for our friends. If not for him, we might not have even been able to finish the expedition.”

The activities for the day also continued after the land expedition, where students got to try their hand on outdoor cooking and tent pitching.  

The day ended with an evening circle, which serves as an integral part of the MOC as it allows them to reflect on the day’s experiences. 


The reflection circles are guided by the instructors. Students are told to pen down their reflection and to derive learning points. PHOTO CREDIT: OUTWARD BOUND SINGAPORE


The students then got an early start the next day at 6am, with another reflection circle and a series of morning games and exercises.

After that, they underwent an inflatable row boat orientation in preparation for the sea expedition taking place later in the day.

During the orientation, students were briefed by their instructors on certain boat procedures such as how to board and alight from it. Afterwards, they took a dip into the water to test out their personal flotation devices (PFDs) and gain some confidence in the water before setting out to sea.


Despite rowing against the tide, the students still managed to cover a considerable distance during the sea expedition through effective communication and teamwork. PHOTO CREDIT: OUTWARD BOUND SINGAPORE


For 15-year-old Sheryl Airina David, taking part in the sea expedition allowed her to put her leadership skills to the test.

Being part of the navigation team during the expedition, Sheryl and her team had to ensure that the other boats were sticking together and that her boat was leading everyone in the right direction.

She added: “I can definitely bring the values of compassion and leadership that I learnt from this camp to my leadership roles in school.

“I can care more for my peers and friends, and make sure that they’re well as I realise that sometimes we get so caught up in our own business that we don’t think about them. This expedition has certainly shaped my leadership skills a bit more to help me get better at leading others in school.”


Sheryl (in purple) and her group also gathered in a large circle before setting out to sea to give each other words of encouragement. PHOTO CREDIT: OUTWARD BOUND SINGAPORE


Despite the MOC’s scaled down format of a two-day residential camp from its original five-day format, the activities that were held still proved to be enjoyable and beneficial for the student participants. 

The instructors also remained primed and ready to conduct the camps even with the camp’s temporary hiatus and change in format. According to 31-year-old Instructor Syafiq Tan, the instructors faced minimal challenges when conducting the camp.

He said: “I think all of our instructors here are adequately trained… Even when the students are not here, we actually go on external courses, and even…refresher programmes.”

Given the improving conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, OBS Director of Programmes & Partnerships B. Elamaaran shared in a press briefing that the original five-day residential format of the MOC programme is set to return next year.

The five-day residential programme will also see the return of the inter-school format.

Apart from a greater lineup of activities, Mr Elamaaran also stated that the returning five-day residential format will allow for “deeper learning opportunities”, “extended time outdoors”, and “deeper friendships and bonds among peers.”

He added: “We don’t want to rush the return of the five-day residential programme. There is some adjusting to be done from both the students and parents perspective. We want to take a progressive approach and show that we can do it.

“We are all ready for the return of the five- day programme, and we are all looking forward to that. OBS, together with MOE, are staged to successfully run the camps.”

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