Making use of the great outdoors
Writer: Sharyn Shufiyan
Published: Fri, 18 Mar 2011
When I first heard of Broga, I thought it was in Spain or Latin America. It didn’t sound local to my ear. Located on the border of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, it is believed that Broga earned its name from Buragas, a mystical beast that lives in the forest.
I only knew of Broga when I returned from New Zealand in 2008. I had just started work with an environmental organisation, and came across the story of the Broga community opposing the incinerator project. Later I had the opportunity to meet and work with Ong Ju Lin, who had filmed Alice Lives Here, a documentary on the issue which won Best Film at the 2005 Freedom Film Festival.
Broga is famed for the hike up Bukit Lalang. Less than an hour away from Kuala Lumpur, it is a convenient location for a day’s retreat, and the hike is friendly enough for people of various fitness levels. But there is another aspect of Broga that caught my attention.
Recently, a colleague of mine shared stories of facilitating a children’s camp at an adventure site called Outbac Broga. With two girlfriends on tow, I paid Outbac a visit one Saturday afternoon.
“Outbac started eight years ago as a community service. When it first started, it only had a field and public toilets. As it progressed and became popular, more facilities were added,” explained Dr Yap, who manages Outbac.
Previously a lecturer in Singapore, Yap came back to Malaysia after six years to contribute to the community. Outbac’s main target market is young people, from primary schoolchildren to college students. During a brief walkabout of the campsite, we saw groups of college students laughing and shouting words of encouragement as they went through the obstacle courses.
The courses looked like a whole lot of fun – from flying-fox, water and rope obstacles and a 15m climbing wall, to the Leap of Faith, a trapeze-like challenge 7m high up in a tree – but I bet it takes a lot of courage and determination to complete some of these tasks.
“The instructor is very friendly and the activities are exciting. They are mentally and physically challenging, so it’s good training,” said Juliana Rosli, project leader from Orange International College, amidst excited screams as a team member missed the trapeze bar and dangled in mid-air. Another group of students was from the Inti College Business Club.
Sandra, from the organising committee, explained that the trip was to improve the relationships among some of the club members who were new. “It’s good for young people to come together. We learn about teamwork as we help each other to go through the obstacles,” she said.
Outbac is also committed to the environment and the community.
Last year, the campsite hosted a clean-up day at Bukit Lalang with 160 volunteers and collected 100kg worth of rubbish.
“We need to do this since it’s our responsibility as we bring people up there. We plan to do it again this year,” Yap said.Outbac also hosted an open day for the public to use their facilities for free. They had visitors from the nearby towns of Semenyih and Kajang.
Fun activities aside, campsites such as Outbac teach our children and youths essential values such as teamwork, and build mental and physical endurance. Spending time outdoors also gives us a moment to appreciate the gift of nature we too easily neglect.
Exposing children to their natural surroundings at an early age would heighten their appreciation towards nature, and this is important to ensure that the environment continues to be protected and conserved for our children’s future.
Perhaps I am just jaded with a world obsessed with technology, and living in a society where selfworth is measured by material gain, that an initiative such as Outbac is – figuratively and literally – a breath of fresh air. It is only when we make use of our natural environment that we start to appreciate its value and take ownership of our inheritance.
For more information on Outbac Broga, visit http://www.outbacmalaysia.com.