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Summer is for camping

Nature camps and trekking, or even a rural farm lifestyle — they’re ready to take the children outside their comfort zone and instill interests that are meaningful and constructive.

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Residential summer camps are on the cards this summer, offering children unique experiences that are not easy to come by in the fast-paced cities these days. Nature camps and trekking, or even a rural farm lifestyle — they’re ready to take the children outside their comfort zone and instill interests that are meaningful and constructive.

“Every summer holiday of my childhood was spent in the village with my grandparents. My grandfather would wake me up at the crack of dawn, make me drink a glass of milk, straight from the cow and take me out on a walk to the fields. He’d talk to me about the crops and seasons and how the food appears on the table. On our way back we’d stop to talk to the villagers, tending to their cattle, repairing a thatch or making jaggery,” remembers Vineet Singh, one of the founders of United Arts Society (UAS) in Bangalore.

Later on, doing his research across schools, he found that the idyllic summers of his childhood had been lost to children now, plugged in all hours to their iPods and e-readers and personal computers.

He wanted to bring some of it back for the city kids, take them back to the roots as they say, show them how life outside the cities can be and how the remote villages they rarely think about have more to do with their immediate realities of food and clothing and shelter. More than they realise, at any rate.

And that was the idea behind the six-day residential summer camp Granny’s Courtyard. UAS started it two years back and this time they are holding it in Machohalli village on the outskirts of Bangalore, on a three acre organic farm owned by an engineer-turned-farmer. This year’s theme is villages of south India.

“Of course being an organisation that furthers the cause of arts, our emphasis is equally on teaching children about village lifestyles and rural arts. From Madhubani paintings to the nautanki style of theatre or story-telling or even community folk dances, the kids will be taught rural arts as well,” says Singh.

Nivedita Bala of Frolic Boonies was an avid wildlife enthusiast and conservationist. She started her residential summer camps on the border of Mudumalai forest with the express purpose of inculcating that in children.

“Children need to know about wildlife and nature. They have to be made aware of the importance of conservation. And it doesn’t come by just so. Knowledge has to be made available to kids. And doing it first hand in surroundings that make them see and learn about nature is the best way to go about it,” she says.

Their 6-acre jungle camp site has a small stream adjoining it and is home to plenty of birds and small animals. That makes it easy to get kids hooked on activities like nature trails, bird watching, wildlife tracking and fishing.

They also learn other fun stuff like chocolate making, star watching, horse riding, crafts and more. “Kids come from all across India for these camps and we have naturalists and wild life experts on site to help teach and motivate the children,” she says.

There is one camp advisor to every six kids and parents can come and stay at the adjoining Jungle Home hospitality facility for a charge. Frolic Boonies runs five and eight days camps through April and May, though parents can book children for two or more consecutive camps if they want a lengthier camp experience for their kids.

If Singh and Bala wanted to make their own experiences available to the kids through the summer camps, it’s a slightly different story for Bangalore Mountaineering Club (BMC).

They run regular trekking camps for enthusiasts in the city and a lot of parents take their kids on it.

“We’ve had a lot of enquiries from parents about children's treks and camps. These days parents want children to know about life outside school and home. These are people who’re already interested in mountaineering and they want their children to know more about nature and pursue their passion,” says Doyel, an executive with BMC.

BMC has two three-day residential summer camps on offer. The first one takes children to Shingani Gudda and Arasinamakki. Shingani Gudda is one of the major peaks in Charmadi range and offers a short, easy three-hour trek for children.

The route passes through the jungles and offers a great experience for kids. Arasinamakki provides a river walk; and children will walk through plantations and along the river bed and through the river.

Yoga, adventure activities and camp games are on the cards too.
The second, scheduled for May, is at Nagarhole National Park. With river crossing and rappelling, still water rafting and basic rock climbing, along with usual camp games and campfires, it has a lot of fun in store for kids too.

On the same vein, there is Society for Promotion of Adventure and Nature Awareness (SPAN), which organises trekking camps for children. This April they’re taking a batch to the Himalayas, “the 44th such camp with children,” says Sridhar, the founder director of SPAN. Closer home, their summer camp in Kodachadri Hills is a nature-oriented leadership camp.

For wildlife outings and nature awareness, do check out Gerry Martin’s wildlife workshops too.

This summer The Gerry Martin Project will run six workshops for kids between nine and 19 at different locations, from the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust to Agumbe Rainforest Research Sation, Andaman and Nicobar to Hunsur.

For details, log on to http://www.gerrymartin.in or call 080-65700638.
 

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