Lessons from Outdoor Education
13 Apr 2016
By 2020, on top of their school camps, all Secondary 3 students will get to attend a five-day expedition-based camp.
Through outdoor education, the students would be able to face the challenge of living without creature comforts, and they would learn basic first aid and outdoor cooking, among other skills.
However, educators say the youth don’t just pick up survival tips – what they learn can be applied beyond the wilderness and school.
Students go beyond their comfort zones to participate in camp activities, and they emerge more confident.
“When they’re confronted with something that is challenging, they will learn a lot if they can overcome that. There will be people encouraging them, and that would give them added confidence,” says Ms Cheong Hwee Khim, principal of Farrer Park Primary School.
For 10-year-old Auni Yusra Mohad Omar, she completed a walk in the darkness of the night despite being afraid, and it became her favourite activity of her Primary 5 school camp. “I felt really scared but my teacher encouraged me… in the end I overcame my fears,” recalls the Farrer Park Primary School student.
The confidence boost is not just a one-camp affair, according to outdoor adventure educator Arnina Nordin.
“Once they go through it, they build up their confidence. It gives them the encouragement to face challenges that are not just in (the camp activity),” she says. Ms Arnina adds that she has seen children who were initially reluctant to participate in some games, but later set aside their reservations to give the activities a shot.
“Learning life skills like ruggedness and resilience is important for our students,” says Ms Cheong.
Besides life lessons, students will also learn social skills, as they work with their peers to navigate a new environment.
“They are given more opportunities (to interact) as classroom and outdoor settings are different,” observes Ms Arnina. “They’re more gracious and they’re more helpful towards one another.”
For Primary 5 student Lenny Lim of Farrer Park Primary, he has learned to be responsible for himself as well as others.
“During the camp, we were assigned buddies and we would have to take care of them. When we were going somewhere, we would look out for them and make sure that they don’t get lost.”
“There have been cases of people misplacing their things, so we have to be more responsible and look after our belongings,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Auni shares that she has learned to be responsible for the environment, and says she will help to pick up litter in her school grounds.
As schools ramp up outdoor activities for students, educators say they have taken steps to ensure safety.
“We have assessed the types of risks the children will be facing when they’re outdoors. We’ll tackle them head-on, and see the possible scenarios that could happen,” explains Mr Razli Jalil, head of Farrer Park Primary’s Sports and Physical Education department. “It’s detailed and comprehensive. Our teachers, schools and students are confident. Parents have been supportive too.”