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OBS 21 Days 2019: To Strive to Serve and Not to Yield

By Siauw Yu Chuan, Tan Jen Kai, Ian Chien and Lucas Loh



"The wind that fills my sail propels, but I am the helmsman."

Outward Bound, an epic voyage, a heartfelt journey, an unforgettable adventure. In December of 2019, 3 of our Ventures took part in the OBS 21 Days Classic Challenge Course. For the 3 of them, it was a gruelling yet rewarding experience, one that cannot be truly expressed in words. This reflection is not a recollection of the events, but rather a few takeaways from their OBS 21 days experience.


Prior to going for the OBS 21 days course, there were many sacrifices that had to be made. Ian had to miss out on school, tests and even a camp to prepare for the Challenge. Yu Chuan and Jen Kai had to prepare a long list of logistics in order to be prepared for the month ahead.


During the OBS 21 day course, they spent many days waking up at 5 am and starting the day off with rigorous morning physical training sessions such as long-distance runs.


They had a total of 4 expeditions throughout the course, comprising of the Land expedition, Sea expedition, Solo expedition, and the Final expedition. During the land exhibition, they learnt map knowledge and navigating from one checkpoint to another. They had also visited various checkpoints and campsites in Pulau Ubin during our land exhibition.


For their sea exhibition, it was a whole new experience as they grappled with sail trimming and make use of the wind direction to gain speed on their Cutter (Sail boats that were custom made just for OBS).


But for many of them, the most memorable expedition was the solo expedition as it gave them time in solitude to reflect on life and to also be independent. They had to provide for themselves, to not only survive but also thrive alone in the jungle environment.


The Cutter, the sail boats on which they tamed the waves.


OBS has taught our Ventures to serve with passion, lead with compassion and to always strive for excellence because “There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

- Kurt Hahn (founder of OBS)


To serve,

This experience in OBS made them realise what it means to serve as a leader.

To put others before self, driven by a purpose and being grounded by morals to do good.


To strive,

The many challenges in OBS had made them stronger in mind and body. Through the course, they realised the importance of "Challenge By Choice". As individuals, we need to constantly improve ourselves, and to put our heart and mind to pursue what's important. This spirit of excellence has definitely made their Watches (patrols) persevere and to give in their best. It made them realise that they are capable of so much more and helped them to see the potential in each other to become leaders in their own special way.


And not to yield,

Similar to what our scout promise states, "...I promise to do our best, to do my duty ..." We serve with our hearts and a purpose. They served and did not expect anything in return as it was their duty and responsibility to care for those in need. To be steadfast in duty and humble at heart.


Their 21 Days at OBS has been fulfilling to say the least and truly befitting of being the final challenge before attaining the President Scout Award (PSA). It is said that it takes 21 days to form a habit. These 21 days have definitely instilled a habit of independence, leadership and perpetual learning in their daily lives and is truly an experience of a lifetime that cannot be replicated anywhere else.



Below is a speech Jen Kai gave on the behalf of his Watch (Patrol) on Graduation Day / Day 21 of 21 to summarise his takeaways and share his experience with others who may be interested.


Good afternoon Guest of Honour Mr Seah Keng Tia, parents, instructors and cordials, my name is Jen Kai and it is an honour for me to be here representing my watch Elizabeth in sharing my 21 Days Classic C hallenge experience.


21 days is not a short time to begin with. Our journey was long and tough from the start, from the stringent selection process to the gruelling interviews. Walking into the OBS campus brought out many fears and uncertainties in myself. Would I be able to pull through 3 weeks without interaction with the outside world? 3 weeks without seeing my family, friends and loved ones? 3 weeks without the comfort of my home? So many questions that I had no affirmative answers to. We settled down here (MPH), 3 weeks ago, for our ice-breakers. Never would I have imagined the place where we first met would eventually become the place we close a chapter in our OBS LSA journey. A chapter that passed by in a flash but left us with moments to cherish forever…


One moment that impacted me personally was our final sailing expedition to Bintan Island. There was a constant expectation of us to sail the fastest and successfully because of the long distance we had to cover. Our journey was not an easy one though. Propeller detaching, fire extinguisher leaking and sailboat parts falling off, we have all been there. These setbacks, coupled with poor weather and our lack of sailing knowledge, threw us into pitholes and left us in low spirits. But between those demoralising moments, we watched the sun set on the horizon, two rainbows after heavy showers, even dolphins and turtles in the sea. To me, it was a blessing in disguise and a lesson to takeaway. If we had a smooth sailing journey with little failure, or if we had not given our best, we would not have been able to see these beautiful moments. We often find ourselves getting caught up with our committments and live such a fast pace of life that we rarely take a step back to appreciate the little things in life. ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS FOR ONE DAY YOU MAY LOOK BACK AND REALISE THEY WERE BIG THINGS.


“Silence is our call, efficiency is our game.” ~Elizabeth 2019. From the very beginning, our watch would work in silence, eat in silence and sometimes communicate in silence. Despite this, we were always the fastest to finish our tasks. Our synchronicity and ability to fit in roles seamlessly amazed other watches and our instructor. Yet in this silence, we found comfort, shared a common identity and forged close bonds. I remember our final dinner during our sailing expedition when we were at our campsite in the late afternoon waiting to cook before rain started to pour down on us. Our shelter was simply too small to protect 9 helpless souls. We were shivering, complaining and regretting our life choices in the howling winds and incessant rain. There was nothing we could do. That was when one of our watchmates suggested that we cook some scrambled eggs to keep ourselves warm. One by one, everyone helped out to cook, opening up to each other in the process. The laughter we shared, the food we ate - somehow made the winds feel calmer, the rain lighter, and the shelter cosier. It was not the fire that was keeping us warm but the company and presence of one another, knowing that we were all in this together that our hearts grew bigger and warmer. IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE SITUATION YOU ARE IN, START BY CHANGING YOURSELF.


Throughout these 21 days, we have all led and served ourselves in this place we now call our second home, but now it is time for us to leave this safe haven and step into the real world to lead and serve the greater community. If there was something I have taken away from these 21 days, it is that it is our life to take charge of and only I can make the most out of it. THE WIND THAT FILLS MY SAIL PROPELS, BUT I AM THE HELMSMAN.


Yesterday we walked in fearful, uncertain about what was to come, today we stand here having grown to be a better version of ourselves, and tomorrow we shall venture out with newfound strength and purpose, to serve, to strive and not to yield. To the 35 of us cordials, as we leave this place behind, let us not forget to bring back the moments that turned into memories - the times we found strength and comfort; the times we stood in challenge and controversy, for these are 21 days that we will never get to relive through ever again. To end off everything, “GOODBYE DOES NOT MEAN THE END, IT DOES NOT SAY FOREVER. IT JUST MEANS WE WILL MEET AGAIN…”




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