Camping 'too tough for children'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 September, 2010, 12:00am

Outward Bound's adventure camps, in which children stay in tents overnight and hike across the New Territories, are too tough for nine- and 10-year-olds, parents at Clearwater Bay School have been told.

Principal David Fitzgerald said in an e-mail to one parent the school decided to stop going to Outward Bound because of concerns including 'the age appropriateness of the camp and the duty of care shown to our young students'.

'The overnight hikes are ideal for secondary school students and adults,' he wrote. 'However, the fact that most of our students are nine and 10 and have never camped in tents in what can be quite harsh weather is one of the issues and one we didn't believe was a sufficient and appropriate risk.'

Jon D'Almeida, executive director of Outward Bound Hong Kong, admitted the adventure courses could be testing for children, but he said safety was always a priority and all staff were trained to near-paramedic level.

'There may have been some issues where a child gets sick, but because teachers are on site we can sort things out very quickly,' he said.

Parents were sometimes 'over-reactive' to difficulties children might encounter.

'We are a bit tough on them [the children],' he said.

However he argued the camps were a valuable experience in self-exploration for children making the transition from primary to secondary school.

'We have discussed this among ourselves and this might sound terribly arrogant but we said, 'Give it two years and I bet you anything you like they'll give us a call,'' he said.