I went for the CAS camp bracing myself for more physical activity than I was used to. I was expecting simple treks, some more outdoor activities and maybe some sports on campus. While all these expectations were fulfilled, there was so much more we did and learnt in the CASTAWAY program.
I was excited to go trekking, being the nature lover that I am, expecting something fairly simple. But what I got was an intense hike that was both tiring and terrifying; and it was so much better than what I expected. Being afraid of heights, the steep climb was extremely overwhelming for me and I was moving much slower than the rest of the group. But every step of the way, the camp facilitators and my teachers helped me, and very sternly reminded me that there was literally no going back. The dark bat cave was a surprisingly calming change for me, after the narrow and steep path up. But by the time we reached the top, I had faced one of my greatest fears, and I am extremely grateful for that experience and opportunity. The rappelling from the Golden Boulder Hill had me trembling as well, and though I was initially extremely resistant, I received a lot of encouragement from Shreeram Sir. This gave me the courage to challenge myself through my fears and I pushed myself to successfully complete the activity, despite my fears, and it was an amazing experience.
During the Bushcraft session, we learnt how to make a fire with flint and firewood and cook food on a stone stove. It was exciting learning how to survive in a stimulation of an emergency situation, and the Rotis we made tasted better because of the satisfaction of having made them ourselves.
Our visit to the Primary Village School gave us the chance to interact with another community, despite the language barrier. Initially, it was a little difficult to mix with the children as we could not speak with them, but soon enough we were all playing games that they taught us together. What really startled me was their school, which lacked the colour that is so important for a child’s learning environment. It made us realise the importance of what we were doing, and made us want to do our best to make their school a happier place for them to learn. Having met the sweet children we were doing this for, we were inspired to put in our best efforts, and enjoyed ourselves immensely while collaborating and making the articles with upcycled materials together. However, it would be more effective if even the inside of the classrooms were painted with bright colours and shapes, as the state of their learning space may have a large impact on their interest and enjoyment. Furthermore, the reflection sessions at the end of each day helped me realise how important it is to take some time to think about how my day’s experiences affected me. The experience taught us how to work together efficiently and collaboratively, and that it is possible to bond with children even without the use of language.
The author is a Grade 11 student from Hill Spring International School, Mumbai. The school participated in a Nature Turks program at The Golden Boulder Campus in August, 2018.