Canoe, camp and more in Sembawang

sembawang camp PA water venture-2-minPhoto: People’s Association Water Venture
Gurveen Kaur 
The Straits Times 
November 23, 2014

Nestled deep in the forested areas of Sembawang is a water sports facility that is a throwback to kampung days.

Run by the People’s Association, Water-Venture (Sembawang) is housed within buildings featuring traditional Malay architecture.

En route to the centre, visitors can spot Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang, a quaint green and yellow mosque built in the 1960s that once served as the religious and social meeting point for Muslims living in nearby Malay villages.

The 8,671 sq m Water-Venture facility, which cannot be seen from the main road, is a 15-minute stroll from the nearest bus stop after Andrews Avenue, a private residential area.

Built in 2008, the centre offers a resplendent view of the Strait of Johor as well as activities such as kayaking and sea-rafting. It also organises nature trails and orienteering courses in the nearby forests.

Those who want to make a night out of the experience can now sleep under the stars.

The centre, which completed its expansion works last month, lets visitors camp in the great outdoors for $5 a night. The less adventurous can book a bunk in the four dormitories on site, which can sleep 40 people each. The accommodations are geared towards bigger groups and those going as a party of 10, for instance, can expect to pay $45 a person.

It is the only Water-Venture outlet, among the eight islandwide, that offers dormitories and camping facilities.

sembawang camp PA water venture-minPhoto: ST

Visitors can go back to basics and try their hand at outdoor cooking using a charcoal stove or indulge in technology-free games such as navigating through portable props and a team-building exercise in which participants use simple materials such as ropes to clear obstacles.

Since the facility started running trial camps in January, it has drawn close to 3,000 campers.

Mr Michael Foo, People’s Association’s director of community sports, says: “Water-Venture Sembawang’s recent extension offers more facilities that cater to a wider group of people. Given its location along the coastline, residents are able to retreat from the bustling cityscape to relax in the quaint and rustic waterfront.”

For senior programme manager Henry Ang, the centre is a “hidden gem” that fellow Sembawang residents he spoke to are unaware of.

He discovered the place by chance while dining at the now-defunct Bottle Tree Village in Jalan Mempurong more than two years ago.

“It has a rustic location compared with the other Water-Venture outlets,” says the 50-year-old, who has lived in Sembawang for 14 years.

An active grassroots leader, Mr Ang is also the newly appointed chairman of the Water-Venture Committee (Sembawang) and plans to organise a 2km brisk-walking event soon. The walk will start from a residential neighbourhood in Sembawang and end at the Water-Venture facility.

“We have our own playground close to home, set in the hub of nature,” he says proudly.

Location: 60 Jalan Mempurong
How to get there: The nearest MRT station is Sembawang. Board bus 882 at the bus stop opposite the station and alight at the 11th stop, after Andrews Avenue. Walk along Andrews Avenue and turn left once you see Jalan Mempurong
Open: 9.30am to 6pm (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Monday
Info: Use of water sports facilities starts from $25 a day. Call6755-0225 for more information

An adapted version of this story first appeared in The Straits Times on November 23, 2014. 
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