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Character development in the great outdoors

23 Nov 2018

  • Zhenghua Secondary School tent pitching

    Zhenghua Secondary School students pitching tents together during a camp. (Photo credit: Zhenghua Secondary School)

  • Zhenghua Secondary School kayaking

    Zhenghua Secondary School students attempting kayaking. (Photo credit: Zhenghua Secondary School)

Kayaking, rock climbing and pitching tents - how often do we get out of our comfort zone for such activities?

Beyond the outdoors and sports at Zhenghua Secondary School, students also learn valuable life skills during their PE lessons. Beyond getting them to be out and about, the aim of the these activities and lessons is to  inculcate confidence, teamwork and leadership skills in the students.

The Learning for Life Programme (LLP) is for the Secondary One to Three students. Secondary One students will attend a three-day-two-night orientation camp to familiarise themselves with the school and their peers, and it is planned and led by their seniors in Secondary Two and Three. As the year progresses, students learn life skills such as map-reading, navigation, first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques. These lessons take place during their PE lessons.

In Secondary Two, students  attempt kayaking, rock climbing and challenge rope courses. These experiences in the wilderness will culminate into an expedition in Secondary Three, where students will plan their own camp and trek with their classmates around Singapore, at places including Labrador Park, Changi Chapel and Pasir Ris.

New friendships, unforgettable lessons

The outdoor activities and lessons are made to challenge students to go beyond what they are comfortable with. When they overcome the challenge of taking up an activity that they usually would not do, they emerge more confident. These activities also enable them to broaden their perspectives and learn to extend a helping hand to their peers.

Zhenghua Secondary School camping“Students become more confident in leading their peers. For instance, a rather shy student was tasked to lead his class in the expedition. He eventually set aside his reservations and became a confident speaker. He did not only step up and take charge, but he became an empowered learner too,” shares Mdm Yeo Yen Hua, who teaches at Zhenghua Secondary School. “Students also demonstrated resilience and compassion as they undertook the expedition, helping out their friends so that they can complete the activities together and not as individuals.”

For the students, overcoming challenges in camp together has brought them new friendships and good memories. Secondary Three student Soh Yan Tin found the chance to know and bond with her closer as they planned and ventured into unfamiliar terrain together. “We spent three days together going through not only hard but fun times together. It was unforgettable,” she says.

As for Secondary Three student Jill Chua, she discovered the importance of working as a team and looking out for one another during the expedition, so that everyone could complete the trek safely. It also made her realise teamwork is necessary not just for that one camp, but also in her daily activities.

“I learned the importance of being mindful of others. This applies not only in school but at home too. We have to listen and understand each other so that we can progress together without conflict,” she says.