Exploring the great outdoors

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 March, 2010, 12:00am

What better way for children to discover, learn and grow than for them to head out into the great outdoors? Hong Kong's countryside offers fresh air, spectacular scenery and opportunities for young learners to have fun and develop the essential skills and curiosity needed to succeed in the challenging - and often crowded - classrooms they spend most of their days in.

Outward Bound Hong Kong is an ideal place to start, especially for adventurous children, from eight years old, who may be looking to get more out of a country park than simply a walk.

Outward Bound is the largest non-profit-making organisation in the world specialising in outdoor education. There are more than 50 Outward Bound training centres in more than 30 countries. Last year, more than 250,000 people took part in Outward Bound programmes. The Hong Kong centre runs programmes for children, teenagers and adults.

'Here we run Easter, summer and Christmas courses for children aged eight to 10 that run for five days and four nights,' explains course officer Loufy Chan. Students on the course, which takes place in the Outward Bound Centre on the Sai Kung Peninsula, take part in team building activities, team games and problem-solving challenges.

Much of their day is taken up with activities such as swimming, hiking and camping, mangrove and beach exploration, and nature and environmental education activities. Creative arts and crafts, singing and dancing are also a major part.

For older children, aged 11 to 13, Outward Bound courses are of the same duration, but with longer hikes and more nights camping.

Programmes for 14- to 17-year-olds get more challenging. The Youth Foundation Course focuses more on individual development, helping students get a better understanding of who they are, make better decisions and understand how their choices affect themselves and others around them. Lasting eight days and seven nights, activities include kayaking, climbing and hiking.

Outward Bound Hong Kong owns its own yacht, and the eight-day Youth Sea Course is for 17- to 25-year-olds. The course also helps students develop mutual respect, trust and support with teammates, and enables them to assess, confront and overcome challenges.

Outward Bound also offers 'Ultimate' courses that take the form of overseas expeditions to destinations such as Japan, Tibet, the Philippines and along the Silk Road. Fees for the five-day youth courses start from HK$3,800. Up to 80 per cent of the cost of some adult courses are reimbursable under the Continuing Education Fund scheme.

For more details, visit www.outwardbound.org.hk