Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When spirits sparkled !

It was a night of full blown constructive hysteria. My first ever, twenty four hour, adventure camp at school. A total of 170 intensely charged ten year olds, a dozen teachers not counting the support staff and the Adventure Company, all under the care of an alert Headmistress.

Morning Yoga
After the launch at 8 am on 30th April, the camp went careening in myriad directions, with not so much as a break in the step until the 9 am of 1 May. A fluent trail of discoveries and nuances. More than anything else, the event ended up holding a candid mirror to us, individually as well as collectively. It was a test of our functioning and being.

The laudable and mandatory, structured schedule involving adventure activities, meal breaks, games, magic show, zorbing ball and the DJ night was memorable enough but it is the “spirit of the place” that day which will remain with me for a long time to come. There was an enchantment at play on the school campus in those frenetic hours. Something came together in a firecracker of energy, direction and cheer.
Eyeing the summit
Much has been written and spoken of Jean Jacques Roussesu’s idea of childhood being a “brief period of sanctuary”. But it was not this innocence that stunned me in our time together with the children. What impressed me was their total artlessness, their enthusiasm, their esprit de corps, their supportive team work, their happy companionship, the generosity of space and resources evident all around.

There were conflicts yes but so were resolutions. Tent pitching, wall climbing and rappelling were happening against a backdrop of community norms with empathy and friendship. If a child fought his demons, his group mates gave him the privacy to do so. They were learning to function as a team, to share, to negotiate, to self-advocate where necessary.

If you ever spent a night at your place of work, you would know the feeling. It is surreal to be walking down the KG aisle at 5.30 am only to come upon the Headmistress at her desk, busy scribbling away, her blown hair the only indication that she did not go home to sleep that night. The teddy and bunny pyjama clad figures, huddled around the circular water tank, pushing their little tooth brushes around added to the feeling of light headedness.

There was “Antakshari”, there was the late night tent party, the starlit dog and the bone, the stubborn torch raids, the bouncing lights on the floor. Also very evident and reassuring through the day, were the role of the family and the sanctity of the child,

Intrepid campers
It can be said with certainty of the camp that the children got their fair share of play, recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a every child’s fundamental right.

It was to be have been a regular school based camp. We ended up celebrating !

Adventure Plus

Climb Up

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