This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.
By Kristal Ng (16S07C), Natasha Hoong (Secretary), Jeriel Teo and Kelsie Tan (Co-Chairpersons)
“All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal: and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There’s nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal it its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide. “
–All Nature has a Feeling, John Clare
Brought together by a thirst for adventure. Bound together as a family. ODAC may not specifically develop better sportsmen, musicians, or artists. Instead, we build better people, with respect for themselves, others and the environment. ODAC also provides an escape from the high-stress environment of social and academic commitments, and a sense of tranquillity in the great outdoors.
Every Wednesday, no matter rain, hail or sunshine (except haze), one can expect to see a group of students gathered at the stadium steps, backs hunched with the weight of a fully-loaded backpack but still smiling and chatting animatedly. This is just the beginning of a 3–4 hour trek out of school, exploring the sometimes hidden, always fascinating wild places in Singapore. Along the way, we also keep our eyes peeled for unique flora and fauna. We learn to revere nature, and appreciate the rare delights of encountering monitor lizards at MacRitchie Reservoir, or a family of otters at Punggol Waterway Park.
Too often, the weight of our packs and the debilitating heat can cause us to stumble (and sometimes sprawl ungainly on the ground), but that is when the encouragement of fellow ODACians makes all the difference. It is during these long treks that we gain not only stamina and endurance, but also the camaraderie and trust of making this jaunt across our little island, aching shoulders and all, to reach the destination, together.
Mondays, on the other hand, are set aside for a whole range of other activities conducted by teachers and fellow ODACians. This can include physical training to build up basic fitness, skills training such as first aid, backwoodsman cooking and tent pitching to prepare us for survival outdoors, as well as to build environmental responsibility.
As a non-competitive CCA, ODAC has certain milestone events which act as goals for the CCA members to look forward to and work towards. At the beginning of the year, new ODACians can expect a 3D2N Basic Training Camp to welcome them to the CCA. During the June holidays, activities will kick into high gear as we prepare for our annual overnight cycling event – Gear Up! as well as the June Expedition.
Nearing the end of the year, one can anticipate the November/December Expedition. Each expedition aims to push ODACians out of their comfort zones, and allow them to grow together from shared adversity, as well as from overcoming challenges.
But in case you think we merely do trekking, fear not! We also explore other aspects of the outdoors. Certification courses for other activities such as kayaking and sport-climbing are also offered and, in fact, highly encouraged, to further enrich our ODAC experience. Due to the nature of our CCA which requires attendance even during the holidays, it is preferred for ODACians not to commit themselves to enrichment programs such ISLE, GCEP, BLP and LBA, as expeditions tend to clash with these trips. Additionally, interested students should be aware that a substantial cost is involved in joining ODAC, as students have to pay for personal equipment used during expeditions.
It might seem daunting right now, but don’t worry, being an ODACian does not require supreme levels of fitness or stamina. All you need is an adventurous spirit with the willingness try and to never give up, because in the end, ODAC is a process of self-discovery, of realizing that we can achieve anything as long as we put our mind to it, growing stronger both physically and mentally. Ultimately, “it is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary