Bachelor of Arts (Psychology)
National University of Singapore
Toughing it out in the great outdoors is an eye-opening experience that develops resilience and character in our youth. As part of programmes to develop future-ready youth, the National Youth Council (NYC) regularly holds five-day expeditionary courses at OBS.
Facilitating the experience for these youth are the instructors at OBS, who work tirelessly to keep their participants involved and motivated. We sat down with 28-year-old OBS Instructor Judah Koh, who gets real about the challenges in this line of work, and shares what drives him on this journey.
As an instructor, you’re away from home five days of the week. How do you cope with this?
This was already a concern before I signed up for OBS. During the sharing sessions, many of the other instructors shared that what we lack in quantity, we make up for with quality. Both my wife and I find a lot of meaning in our respective work, and when we are together during the weekends, there is always that alignment to share our work with each other. I also share what I’ve learned with her when we go for our holidays, and that creates more common topics for us to explore.
As an organisation, OBS has various avenues that help to support family life. You can arrange for your family to come to the island and try out the activities, and there are family day activities to engage them as well. Thankfully, the work culture is an understanding one. Leave is rostered, so we can plan our off days well in advance.
What keeps you driven in your career?
I think finding meaning in the job is important. During my training, I encountered a participant with mild autism who wanted to tap out after the first day. The senior I was attached to assured him to give it a try. It turned out that he had a bad phobia of heights, and was intimidated by the high elements on campus. With my senior’s encouragement, the participant became the first to volunteer the second day when we went for our high elements—his mentality was simply that he wanted to get it out of the way. He completed the whole course, and that image was really powerful and has become a strong motivation for me.
What should graduates who want to join OBS be prepared to bring to the table?
Lots of passion, commitment and open-mindedness. It’s a very demanding job; for every five-day course, we wake up at 5.30am and go to bed very late. You have to be driven by passion and you have to believe in what you’re doing. Don’t worry if you don’t have any certifications for the outdoor activities coming in, but be prepared to work doubly hard to keep up with your peers who have all these certifications in the pocket already. There are committed trainers who are willing to help build up your foundations and prepare you to become an instructor.