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  Straits Times 23 Jun 07
Outward Bound marks 40 years here with book
By Lim Wei Chean

BOYS Home inmate John Tan (not his real name) loved the five-day course at Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) he attended last week so much, he came back wanting more.

The 15-year-old, who is serving a two-year sentence in Singapore Boys Home, participated in the programme with the support of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, as part of a programme to involve the community in the rehabilitation of young offenders.

'I learnt a lot of things at OBS, like how to work with others, being considerate of others in the team,' he said, adding that he enjoyed camping outdoors, kayaking and wandering around in the forest.

John was one of more than 300 residents from Singapore Boys Home and Singapore Girls Home who have gone on the specially designed outdoor adventure learning programme at OBS since 2001.

Yesterday, OBS celebrated 40 years of service to the community with a gala dinner on Pulau Ubin for more than 200 guests. Awards were given out to 33 organisations which have worked closely with the adventure school in the past few decades. The guest of honour was Mr Lim Boon Heng, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and deputy chairman of the People's Association.

As part of the celebrations, Mr Lim launched a new 183-page book on OBS which outlines the school's achievements over the past 40 years. The book will be on sale in all major bookstores islandwide by end of next month.

One contributor was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who participated in a 15-day course in 1967.

In his message, he noted: 'Globalisation has made it more important than ever for Singapore to develop our talent to the fullest... through the ruggedness of the OBS courses, inner strength is built up and values vital to our nation are imbued.'

Former OBS instructor L. Shanmugan was also featured in the book as the only Singaporean who has met Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn.

Mr Shanmugan brushed aside misconceptions of OBS as simply involving physical challenges. 'For the physical, there is the army. Outward Bound is not about how many miles you can run, how many push-ups you can do. It is about mental challenges and community living, where people learn to work as a team,' he said.

More than 23,000 participants pass through OBS' doors every year, of whom 70 per cent are students. John was in the minority sent by other groups such as the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

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