OBS instructors share how they’ve been staying prepared for resumption of 5-day MOC programme in January

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

Amanda Tan

Published: 16 December 2022, 10:24 AM

Come Jan 9, 2023, Secondary 3 students can look forward to the resumption of the five-day residential Ministry of Education (MOE) – Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) Challenge (MOC) Programme. 

The resumption comes after it was first put on hold since January 2020 because of the pandemic, although in May this year it was modified to a two-day non-residential programme. It was subsequently turned into a residential course in July

OBS instructors have been making the effort to stay ready for the resumption. Two instructors Youthopia spoke to, Jack Sim and Eramaya Mahadi, shared that they did so by attending refresher courses, acquiring recertifications and keeping fit.


As part of the National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan, the MOC programme seeks to develop ruggedness, resilience and build cohesion amongst youths. PHOTO CREDIT: ERAMAYA MAHADI


In the MOC, instructors will be tagged to a group of 12 to 14 students, whom they will share with the objectives of MOC, learning outcomes and expectations. Students can also use this time to open up about their concerns, if they have any. 

While instructors are not assigned by gender, female participants can approach any female OBS instructor should it be necessary.

There will also be a full-day expedition, either on sea or on land. The students will have opportunities to plan the experience, learn how to read a map and compass, and work together with other teams to travel from one campsite to another.


The four learning outcomes of the OBS MOC are to gain resilience, social cohesion, become a more concerned citizen as well as a more confident person. PHOTO CREDIT: JACK SIM


According to Jack, there are also a few new activities added to the programme, such as dragon boating and mangrove appreciation.

Every challenge and experience is followed by a reflection session facilitated by the instructors. This allows students the opportunity to articulate the lessons learnt and apply their learning in other similar situations.


The instructors also have regular training sessions to familiarise themselves with the activities they plan on conducting during MOC. PHOTO CREDIT: ERAMAYA MAHADI


With the 5-day course, the instructors feel like there’ll be sufficient time for the students to fully immerse themselves in the experience. Maya noted that students can look forward to having more bonding time amongst the teams.

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

This means participants will get to mingle with students of various schools, beyond their own cohort. 

“Different schools have different cultures… and also when they come together as a group, it’s also for them to learn how to accept and accommodate each other’s learning capabilities and for them to really help each other out,” shares Jack.


Team building activities are an important part of the programme for students to build trust within their groups. PHOTO CREDIT: JACK SIM


Additionally, height activities such as abseiling, climbing and high elements will make a comeback although the date is still tentative. According to MOE, height-based outdoor adventure learning (OAL) activities will progressively resume from Feb 1, 2023.

In preparation for the recommencement, the OBS instructors have been keeping abreast of safety precautions by taking a series of refresher courses such as the Height Activity Refresher course. The instructors take up such courses once a month and as for the programme-specific training sessions, they do it quarterly.

“It has always been a consistent effort to keep ourselves updated. I won’t say there’s a ramp up, but the emphasis has always been there from the start,” says Jack.

In fact, before an instructor can conduct a five-day MOC course, they must undergo a training of six to nine months.

“For some of the instructors, we have the privilege of running non-MOE related courses which are also of slightly longer duration. This allows us to train our endurance in preparation for the five-day MOC resumption,” adds Jack.

Besides that, they’ve been refamiliarising themselves with the Training Safety Regulation (TSR), the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the running of courses. They’ve also gotten their certifications such as Wilderness First Aid and Basic Cardiac Life Saving (BCLS) renewed by retaking the courses to ensure their knowledge and skills are kept current.

For these courses, the instructors are assessed based on their knowledge of the injuries and illnesses as well as what symptoms to look for in the event of an accident. From there, they will be able to determine what kind of treatment should be given to the student.

Maya added that OBS has specially designed a refresher course for the resumption. Under the 5-day refresher course, the instructors come together and take turns to conduct the planned activities. Thereafter, they advise each other on how to better improve the activity as well as the briefing session.

The instructors also attend environmental and sustainability education workshops which can range from flora and fauna appreciation to living with otters. 

She says: “We are more prepared for next year’s profiles of (students) that are coming in.”

Furthermore, before any activity is conducted, there will be a safety briefing by the instructors. Throughout the whole activity, there will be an instructor present to supervise.

Every OBS instructor is equipped with an issued first aid kit. They are also trained to be the first responder to any medical emergency. There are also in-house full-time registered outdoor nurse practitioners who can provide basic medical treatment to the students.

For the expeditions, should the participants be needed to evacuate for further treatment or urgent medical attention, the operations room will be notified and additional manpower or equipment will be ready onsite.

As for students who are set to partake in the MOC, while the instructors assure that no skill is required, Jack shares that he hopes for students to approach the experience with a readiness to learn.

Through the activities, they will likely overcome their fears, learn to trust others a bit more and overcome obstacles and challenges as a team, says Maya. However, what’s crucial is that students approach the experience as a chance to discover themselves, given that OBS is a once in a lifetime experience.

“Come with an open mind and open heart. At the end of the day, OBS is about exploring and empowering so take every opportunity to lead and to learn at the same time.”

For students with parents who have some reservations and concerns, OBS’ partnership management team will get in touch with the respective schools to disseminate information kits to them to understand more about what OBS does and help them prepare their kids for OBS.

Participants can also make an effort to build up their physical endurance and familiarise themselves with the relevant skills through the My OBS Journey app, which will also be introduced through the schools.

You may like these