Being in nature made me feel very calm and one with my surrounding, at peace.

The author, Jahnavi Choraria, a Gen-Z student from Hillspring International School, Mumbai, tells us about some of the lessons she has learned through her experience at the Nature Turk's 'Cast Away' Program, 2018.

Initially when I first thought of CAS camp, the name itself led me to believe that it would be entirely about doing some form of service or playing games, and probably working in a school with some children. Since I was arriving to the campsite directly from HMUN I was honestly hoping that it wouldn’t be all that tiring and to my surprise it wasn’t all that exhausting, but refreshing to some extent. During the course of the 4 days, it was surprising to learn that the trip did entail of two treks to absolutely beautiful locations and activities such as cooking our own meals, doing bush craft and actually making furniture for a school.

The first trek, which was definitely long, was an emotional roller coaster in itself from being pumped in the morning to reaching halfway and being tired, from reaching the top and refusing to go all the way back down again and then actually going down in the dark. In the end the view was worth it and I did truly understand one does not always require light to help one find one’s path.

The next day, which wasn’t entirely strenuous, but required work for sure was the visit to the school which was a highly creative experience as I never knew tables, chairs and a bookshelf could be made out of tyres and paint could be removed with acetone with great ease. It was great to meet the children who studied in the school and heartwarming to see their enthusiasm to meet us and the smile on their faces after seeing what we were doing. This experience also did make me realise the power of non-verbal communication as we didn’t know Telegu and simply communicated with basic actions and expressions.

The following day started a little too early at 4:30 but the view of the trek definitely seemed worth it after. We were left to scout, and find our way on our own and it was interesting to know and actually put into effect the number of things that one needs to take into consideration before actually finding a route. We did have to rappel down the boulder we climbed and surprisingly to my interest I wasn’t scared for some odd reason I did manage to go down with a smile and this something I definitely do plan on experiencing again. After this, we got the opportunity to cook a meal with the talented cooks present there and I got the chance to cut vegetables of various textures, shapes and sizes and it was a learning experience of its own and was highly enjoyable.

Altogether, I did manage to acquire different skills on this trip such as scouting, cutting skills, how to help people out and definitely how to work better as a team. The one thing I’m sure of is that I will never forget the instructors as they were very friendly, highly knowledgeable and a lot of fun to be around.

I did learn a lot from them and the environment itself. Being in the open and simply surrounded by nature made me feel very calm and one with my surrounding, I didn’t feel the need to think or reflect, I could just sleep on the grass and observe and breathe, it was beautiful and refreshing. It was a great getaway from all the work and a brilliant opportunity to get to know the new students who I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know in a more structured environment such as school. Lastly, one thing I loved the most were the songs we were woken up to, they truly did give me incentive to get off my bed and to get out of my tent. Overall, a great experience and I would love to go back and explore more skills and trek to different spots and simply lie down on the green grass.

The author is an 11th grade student of Hillspring International School, Mumbai. Students from Hillspring International School were part of Nature Turks' 'CAST Away' program in the month of August, 2018

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