Outward Bound Singapore

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Logo of the Outward Bound Singapore

Outward Bound Singapore (Chinese: 新加坡外展训练中心), formerly called Outward Bound School of Singapore (OBSS), is part of the network of Outward Bound[1] centres worldwide. While Outward Bound is well established in many other countries, the Outward Bound centre in Singapore has the distinction of having an 'Excellent' rating for expertise, facilities and safety. Established in 1967, Outward Bound Singapore has a campus, located on the island of Pulau Ubin.


Inverse tower at Pulau Ubin

Initially named the Outward Bound School of Singapore (OBSS), it was founded by then Minister of the Interior and Defence and Deputy Chairman of the People's Association,[2] Goh Keng Swee[3] in 1967. From 1970, OBSS was under the management of the Ministry of Defence,[4] where it was used as a facility to prepare young men for compulsory national service. After it was returned to the People's Association in 1991, however, the school was renamed to Outward Bound Singapore, hence playing an active role in helping young people in their development. The number of participants has grown since 1991 and it is currently the largest Outward Bound centre worldwide. Secondary school students are strongly encouraged to attend a week's programme at Outward Bound Singapore's Pulau Ubin centre. The programme can be conducted indoor or outdoor, depending on the weather conditions. Over the years, OBS has evolved to play a more active role in community building through its OBS Alumni[5] & the Leadership & Service Award.[6] OBS has also partnered with overseas Outward Bound centres such as Oman & South Africa to provide more global programmes for youths. Recently announced at the Singapore Youth Conference 2014, OBS will be restructured to be part of the new strengthened National Youth Council (NYC) Autonomous Agency. As one of the National Youth Developer, OBS will co-drive the national youth volunteer programme, Youth Corp Singapore with NYC.[7]

Outward Bound Philosophy[edit]

The Outward Bound philosophy is best summarised by founder Kurt Hahn[8] saying, "The aim of education is to impel people into value-forming experiences, to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an indefatigable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self, and above all, compassion." The development-by-challenge' approach combats the Six Declines of Modern Youth[9] to produce positive psychological and social outcomes. Outward Bound programmes are designed to empower people with self-awareness, responsibility, perseverance, interpersonal skills, confidence, compassion and the ability to create positive impact for the community. Programmes follow the Outward Bound process model:[10]

Key Programmes[edit]

Youth Corp Singapore[11]

As one of the National Youth Developer, OBS will co-drive the new national youth volunteer programme, Youth Corp Singapore with NYC. Shortlisted applicants will attend a 5-day residential leadership programme at OBS for training and team bonding. The Youth Corps programme will match youth volunteers with critical community needs, and help them make sustained and meaningful contributions to society.[12]

21-Day Leadership & Service Award (LSA)[6]

Started in 2011, this award was created for youths aged 17 – 35 with a passion for community service. Selected individuals are awarded the LSA with a scholarship to attend the 21-day course in Pulau Ubin. Awardees participate in a multi-element leadership and service challenge programme designed to broaden their horizons while being out of their comfort zones, build resilience, and inspire them to undertake bigger endeavours to the community. Besides adventure learning, organising and planning of community service projects are also key components of the LSA programme. LSA graduates become part of the OBS Alumni[5] upon completion of the programme.

Global Adventures[13]

Global programmes are conducted with sister Outward Bound centres in various regions and combine both adventure and cultural learning. The 11-day Global Adventure Oman spans the Omani desert, trekking across the Jabel Akhder Mountain in the day and camping under the Arabian stars at night. Another global programme is the 18-day Global Adventure South Africa which includes exploring the sandstone foothills of the spectacular Drakensberg. These programmes are open to youths above 17.

OBS Alumni[edit]

Rock-climbing wall at Pulau Ubin

Since its establishment in 2012 with the aim of giving graduates of OBS programme a platform to serve the community, the OBS Alumni[5] has partnered several community stakeholders for various causes ranging from helping under-privileged families to environment conservation.

  • 1-day Nurture @ Adventure programme @ East Coast Campus for about 500 needy children & their families on Father's day[14]
  • Partnered with Central Singapore Community Development Council to conduct the Trust Journey programme with the aim of fostering racial harmony ties between students from the Global Indian International Schools & local M.O.E school, Queensway Secondary School[15]
  • Collaborated with International Coastal Clean Up to clean up the coastal shores of Pulau Ubin where volunteers found interesting items such as an abandoned TV[16]
  • Alumni volunteers at the soup kitchen, Willing Hearts where they helped prepare meals for needy Singaporeans[17]
  • Partnered with South East Community Development Council, 'Yifon Skips for Nutritional Wellness @ South East 2013' campaign to earn 600 Yifon food products for the needy by conducting 'The Giant Team Skip'[18]
  • Co – organised a special outdoor camp with Central Singapore Community Development Council, Camp Include, for students from MINDS who were paired with Alumni volunteers to go thru the outdoor activities such as high rope course, tunnel cave maze etc.[19]
  • Organised the first Merlion abseil @ Sentosa for the public to raise awareness and funds for Life Community, a children's charity[20]
  • On 19 March 2014, the volunteers were awarded for their community efforts at the inaugural OBS Volunteers Appreciation Ceremony. Alumni mentors were also appointed to guide younger volunteers in their community impact projects[21]


When Outward Bound first started in 1967, its facilities were spartan. Currently, OBS has one campus at Pulau Ubin.The facilities at the Pulau Ubin campus include a Peak Ascent Tower, tunnelling and caving system, inverse and tripod towers, rock climbing walls, teaching rooms and a 25-metre swimming pool for kayaking. The Pulau Ubin campus is located at two locations, with Campus 1 being larger than Campus 2. Depending on the course, Residential or Mobile, the campers either stay in the dormitories provided on campus or in tents on the centre's ground respectively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ List of Outward Bound Centers, Outward Bound International
  2. ^ History of PA, People's Association
  3. ^ Goh Keng Swee, Singapore Infopedia
  4. ^ MINDEF
  5. ^ a b c OBS Alumni,
  6. ^ a b Leadership Service Award.
  7. ^ OBS will join the restructured NYC.
  8. ^ Kurt Hahn Archived 11 June 2014 at Archive.today, Founder of Outward Bound,
  9. ^ 6 Declines of Modern Youth
  10. ^ Outward Bound Process Model, Walsh & Gollins 1976.
  11. ^ [1] Be a part of Youth Corp Singapore.
  12. ^ [2] Youth Corp Singapore.
  13. ^ OBS Global Adventures
  14. ^ A Father's Day to Remember,Today Online,18 June 2012.
  15. ^ Trust Journey Programme, Racial harmony camp brings teans outdoors for inter –racial bonding, Asia One News,21 July 2012.
  16. ^ Guess where this television was found?, International Coastal Clean Up,Today Online, 2 August 2012.
  17. ^ Ex OBS Participant Helps Out In Soup Kitchen,Asia One News, 21 October 2012.
  18. ^ The Giant Team Skip, Asia One News, 28 February 2013.
  19. ^ Scaling Obstacles to Bridge Gap with Disabled Youths,Asia One News, 21 March 2013.
  20. ^ Donors Abseil For a Good Cause,Asia One News, 20 July 2013.
  21. ^ OBS Awards Youth Volunteers Community Service Efforts,Asia One News, 30 March 2014.

External links[edit]