I thought it would be like the other camps I've been to.

The author recollects how the 'Cast Away' program has imparted some very crucial life lessons and created many long-lasting memories.

Around a week before our trip to the Hyderabad, I really didn’t want to go. I thought it would be like the other camps that I’ve been to, and did not want to do the same monotonous activities again. I was really worried about sleeping in tents and using bathrooms with so many insects once again.

However, when we actually left I began enjoying the experience. At first, it was because I was surrounded by all my friends but when I reached the campsite it was because I saw so many animals and 2 extremely cute dogs (I am the biggest dog lover). At that time, I wasn’t paying attention to what we were going to do for the next 4 days but only cared about if my friends would be in my tent. Unfortunately, that did not happen and I was sad the entire first day. At night I met my tent mates who were actually nice and I realised that I had nothing to worry about as I was going to make new friends. The very next morning we woke up and immediately played football, I can say that it was one of the best hours of my life as I felt at peace and was carefree running behind the ball on that beautiful huge field. I began feeling at one with nature mainly because of the beauty, cleanliness, surroundings and strategic position of the campsite. Since the time I saw the Golden Boulder I wanted to climb it.

Soon enough I got the opportunity to do so. It was one of the best experiences of my life, climbing the Golden Boulder and Khila Ganpur hills. Especially because there were such fantastic instructors around us like Django Sir, Ram Sir, Arun Sir, and Ms. Pavna who gave me confidence and made us feel safe while attempting activities like rappelling and caving. I enjoyed these treks - not only because of the marvellous views but because of fun challenges which I’ve never experienced before like climbing the wet Spider-man wall.

Another thing that gave me immense happiness was working for the local school because the smile on the children’s faces gave me satisfaction. It helped me grow spiritually and I cannot wait to see the pictures of the finished products and the set up in the classroom along with the reaction of the school children.

This camp gave me experiences and knowledge that I wouldn’t get anywhere else like, bush craft, learning about wells, plants, animals, birds and cooking (the tasty Daawat E khaas). I also witnessed on how simple Science is used in rural areas and how such areas do not require technology for comfort. For instance, the natural exhaust fans made by creating the high walls next to the washrooms.

When I returned to Mumbai and walked to my bus stop in the morning I was thinking about how much I missed walking on the grass fields than the concrete roads, and how much I missed Arun sir’s ‘wakey-wakey’ with the songs in the background rather than my alarm. This camp gave me a real holistic experience.

The author is a Grade 11 student from Hill Spring International School, Mumbai. The school was part of a Nature Turks program at the Golden Boulder Campus in August, 2018.

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