New S$250m Outward Bound Singapore campus to be built on Coney Island

The new campus will be part of a new National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan, and is expected to be ready around 2020, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat says.
Channel NewsAsia 24 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: In recognition that for the country’s youths to thrive, they need a sense of adventure, resilience and to challenge themselves to be their best, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a new National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan.

In his Budget statement in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 24), Mr Heng said that to help students develop these attributes, the Government will expand outdoor adventure education for all students through the Masterplan.

As part of the Masterplan, he announced a new Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus to be built on Coney Island. It will cost about S$250 million and is expected to be ready around 2020, he added.

“Many more youths will have the chance to go for an expedition with OBS. These activities will help them build confidence, and develop camaraderie with students across different schools,” Mr Heng said.

Like the OBS campus on Pulau Ubin, the campus on Coney Island will be “rustic and blend in with the rest of the island”, he added.

The island will also remain open for everyone to enjoy, and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Ministry of Education will provide more details later, the Minister said.

- CNA/kk

Second OBS campus to be built on Coney Island by 2020
KELLY NG AND AMANDA LEE Today Online 24 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE — A second Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus will be built on Coney Island by 2020, as part of a new National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan to expand outdoor adventure education to all students.

Expected to cost about S$250 million, the campus will give more young people a chance to go for outdoor expeditions with OBS.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told Parliament on Thursday (March 24): “To thrive, our young people need a sense of adventure, resilience, and to be ready to challenge themselves to be their best … Activities (on the new campus) will help them build confidence, and develop camaraderie among students from different schools.”

The rest of Coney Island, previously known as Pulau Serangoon, will remain open to the public. More details will be shared by the Education Ministry and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth at a later date.

Right now, OBS operates a 9ha campus on Pulau Ubin.

Coney Island, one of the remaining undeveloped islands in Singapore, is located between the north-eastern coast and Pulau Ubin.

Development plans for the island include reclamation and a link to the Punggol housing estate. Last October, the rustic Coney Island Park, managed by the National Parks Board, was opened to the public.

Educators and parents TODAY spoke to welcomed the move.

Homemaker Adrienne Li felt such outdoor programmes will help her Primary 5 son, who attended a two-night leadership camp recently.

“He learnt to be more responsible like taking care of his belongings and learning how to pack things by himself,” said Mdm Li, 38.

Finance executive Karen Wong, 47, who has a Secondary 4 child, added: “Nowadays, our children are quite protected by their parents and family, but with more outdoor programmes, it can teach them teamwork.”

Clerk Madeline Ang, 43, who has two children aged nine and 13, hopes the outdoor programme on Coney Island will not only teach children life skills but also enable them to learn more about nature.

Punggol View Primary School principal Kelvin Tay said the outdoor education will provide students with a “richer experience”.

“It helps to build their character through various activities (hosted on Coney Island)… students can (also) be close to nature,” he added.

For example, at his school, under the Programme for Active Learning for Primary 2 students, trash is scattered around the school garden to allow students to identify and collect the litter. This can help students learn how to keep the environment clean and green, Mr Tay said.

A teacher who declined to be named said the new OBS campus will provide more opportunities for students to “develop holistically in the non-academic areas, while schools continue to provide a strong ground for academic excellence”.

“The new OBS campus would provide the students with the much-needed breath of fresh air, with challenges that can safely nudge them beyond their comfort zone, in a safe and controlled manner,” said the 28-year-old.

CLARIFICATION: In an earlier version of this story, it was reported that Outward Bound Singapore currently operates a 240-ha campus on Pulau Ubin. OBS has clarified that the campus is 9-ha.

CORRECTION: We previously referred to Outward Bound Singapore as Outward Bound School. We are sorry for the error.

Keep Outward Bound Singapore campus out of Coney Island
Straits Times Forum 29 Mar 16;

The news that there is going to be a new Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus built on Coney Island ("$250m Outward Bound campus for Coney Island"; last Friday) is extremely disappointing.

I believe that I speak for many a resident in the area in describing the elation we felt when Coney Island was opened to the public last year.

The island is rustic, untouched by development and, simply, nature at its best.

This is something that is rare in Singapore - understandably so, given our constant need for more space for man-made endeavours.

Most of our parks already have numerous man-made touches which may make them more comfortable, but ironically, nature by itself does not always have comfortable and modern amenities.

OBS already has two campuses in Pulau Ubin, just across from Coney Island.

Unlike Pulau Ubin, the latter is not big enough for one part to be built up into a campus and the other to remain truly untouched.

So, perhaps expansion within Pulau Ubin could be considered instead.

Yes, students, and indeed all Singaporeans, need to experience and learn through the outdoor experience.

But often, the crux of that lies in experiencing the true reality of untouched nature rather than through a built-up campus.

I truly hope that the authorities will leave Coney Island true to its natural self and not turn it into yet another "developed" nature spot.

Alternative possibilities for the expansion of OBS should be considered.

Aishworiya Ramkumar (Dr)

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