D.A.R.E. to change — an outdoor adventure camp with a difference

Once or twice in a lifetime, one might encounter a group of people that believe in their work so much you start to wonder if they really do hold the power to change lives. And these chance encounters tend to come unexpectedly, as I found out through the D.A.R.E. Adventure Holiday Camp preview organised by High Achievers.

In all honesty, I thought this preview would just be another event I was tasked to cover, requiring a certain amount of physical work (it was an outdoor adventure camp, after all). Besides, the MOE Jalan Bahtera Adventure Centre, one of the largest wilderness campsites in Singapore, was considerably hard to reach by any means of transport (I got lost, and when I finally managed to find my way, the gravel entrance driveway tested the suspension limits of my 8-year-old car).

Ms Jo-Ann Ho & Elgin Teng

But traveling woes aside, this was very much an inspired presentation by the good people of High Achievers. During the D.A.R.E. Holiday Adventure Camp orientation briefing, Elgin Teng, High Achiever’s team lead and Senior Learning & Development Consultant, spoke with plenty of spirit and heart, driving through the message that this was a course well outside the outdoor adventure curriculum offered by our education ministry, and one based heavily on experiential learning that emphasised inner reflection and self-actualisation. Big words for adults, much less children aged 9 and above, (which the D.A.R.E. camps are tailored for), but they were words that were not just meant to be heard, but to be experienced, as the participants were to find out.

We were brought around the (very large) camp grounds by Elgin and Ms Jo-Ann Ho, Director of Learning and Development & Academy, where the team introduced various features, including a “low-level” obstacle course, a cluster of A-huts (small, simple cottages that could each fit 4 students for in-camp stays), and an 18-metre high rock-climbing wall. It was here where we stopped to sample what the D.A.R.E adventure holiday camps were really about.

For the preview, goals were set on the rock-climbing wall for participants to achieve — two different heights that were marked out with masking tape, and each of us had a go at trying to get to the allotted markings, which I had disappointingly failed to do. But it was not just the extreme physical activity that was being emphasised with this not-so-little exercise; after we were all done with the wall, we were invited into a nearby pavilion to draw out our rock-climbing experiences with a sheet of paper and some fine-tipped markers, and to review our thoughts on the entire process.
It was here that the instructors truly shined; as we explained our drawings to them, they were able to dissect our personalities and behaviours through observing us during our climb and our drawings. Though presented to a group of adults, one could sense the strength that this moment of reflection might impact on the sensibilities of our youth, in building patience, positive thinking, and most importantly, determination and resilience — characteristics which a certain cabinet minister once remarked as being sorely lacking in today’s generation of youth, and characteristics which the High Achievers team specifically target through allowing participants to realise themselves.

In that moment of reflection, even I realised, then, that even at my age, I still had a lot to learn.

There was much more to be explored, like the Playpen, a team-building course that motivates participants to scale new heights, and the newer cluster of raised bunkers at the Jalan Bahtera Adventure Centre side that could easily house cohorts of up to 400 in one go, but really, the High Achievers had successfully accomplished what they set out to do.

They made me believe they had the power to change lives.

The D.A.R.E. Holiday Camps start on December 2012. High Achievers currently offers three camp levels differentiated by age (click on the links for further details):

Register your child for a D.A.R.E. Holiday Camp from now till  to 30th September 2012 to enjoy super early bird discounts! Details can be found in the above links.

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About Winston Tay
Our staff aims to Discover and review family friendly activities and places that never bores kids.