By Loh Kat Teng
It is with a very heavy heart as I write this.
My younger son graduated from Tanjong Katong Primary School last year. And yes, he was among the privileged group of leaders selected for the Omega Challenge Mt Kinabalu Expedition last year. It is a trip for selected leaders from the various CCAs in school for the graduating batch and the school has been running the programme for years.
It is a simple trip, go to KK, stay a night. Climb Mt K, stay at Pendant Hut. Go Via Ferrata for some fun but challenging activities, go back Pendant Hut to rest. Next morning do summit climb, descend the mountain, stay a night. Home sweet home. No sight seeing, no shopping, no luxurious hotels, no great food. Yet my son had set his heart for the trip for years and actually consciously worked for it by getting into the school prefectorial board.
Prior to the trip, the school scheduled for training sessions which included serious stairs climbing. Students were also encouraged to do their own training daily which many enthusiastically did.
What did the students learn from such a trip? They learned to be prepared by building up their physical. They learned to look out for each other and cheered each other on when the going gets tough. They learned that they could have an enjoyable afternoon without mobile phones, iPads and other electronic gadgets by just chilling and playing board games with friends. They learned to make their own decisions, my boy did not feel too well when he reached Pendant Hut and he decided to forgo the next morning’s Via Ferrata’s activity so that he could be fully rested and ready for the summit climb the following day. He made the decision on his own, we only knew about it when he came back and recounted to us. They learned to accept setbacks, the whole team did not make it to the summit as the weather was unfavourable and the teacher made a decision to halt the climb. Some cried at the moment. So did they come back depressed and disappointed? No, they came back in high spirits for they had been through a valuable experience.
Does the school have the full support of parents for this programme? I can’t speak for others, but they have mine.
Would the school have the courage to continue with programmes that are beneficial for students after this incident? I do hope so.
Why am I writing this now? I just feel that at times like this when many families are still anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones, if we cannot say or do anything positive, let’s at least not make things worse.
This first appeared as a Facebook post by Ms Loh.