/On DP-1 Camps 

On DP-1 Camps 

Growth: a word we often use without pondering over what it truly means. What does growth entail? How can we embark on a journey of growth? Ultimately, what is growth? are just some of the questions answered by our recent experience of camping at Sattal, Nainital. 

It all began as we reached school. Just like another school day, except it wasn’t actually a school day. This time, we reached at 4:30 am, with casual clothing and massive duffel bags. As drowsy as we were, we made it through the morning. After being briefed by Ms. Nag, who enthused us for the journey ahead, we made our ways into the buses and boarding was finally checked off our to-do lists. 

Needless to say, the bus ride entailed exhausted teenagers catching up on their precious sleep, but the fun was not compromised. Loud pop music filled our ears and rejuvenated us after our morning naps. After some time, we stopped for breakfast at a Dhaba, to enjoy some delicious Indian-style parathas and pakoras with piping hot tea: the winter special, indeed. Not only this, but the snacks and beverages on the buses kept us energized through the long, tiring journey, which would soon be worth it. Soon after breakfast, we reached Kathgodam, from where we sat in jeeps to reach our campsite.

On reaching the campsite, we were pleasantly surprised. Surrounded by tall oak trees and green grass, the beautiful campsite started changing our relationship with nature. Moreover, one thing which fascinated me, is the presence of multiple dogs on the campsite who we so delightfully bonded with. Their names: Dolly, and Mohan, or so we called them. These camps truly did transform how we view ourselves in this world: individuals responsible for caring about plants, trees, and animals; biodiversity conservation became all the more important to us right then.  

The next few days were filled with adventure and stepping outside our comfort zones; pushing our frontiers, as my English teacher would say. We worked on four different projects: creating a volleyball court from scratch, building a Polyhouse, clearing the path for a water tank, and propagating plants of hope in the nursery.  

For building the Polyhouse, volleyball court, and clearing the path for a water tank, we began by clearing the land. Using shovels, pickaxes, and other equipment which we had never used before, we dug the land, clearing away all the plants, rocks, and debris present. Interestingly, we also worked as disaster relief supporters. As there had been a landslide which had clogged the pathway for the water tank, villagers experienced a lack of access to fresh water. Hence, we cleared this pathway and made clean water more accessible to them. 

Not only this, but we became architects, as we planned the structure and layout of the Polyhouse, built using sustainable Bamboos; thus, imbibing a sense of environmental consciousness amongst my peers and I. This structure was then supported by various cut-up bamboo sticks firmly stuck into the ground and we used nails to assemble it all together. Moreover, we became artists as we made boundaries around the volleyball court and painted the ground, in an attempt to plant seeds of joy amongst the village children. In the nursery, we worked as farmers, actively sowing seeds, and cleaning soil, in an attempt to create a hygienic and eco-friendly farming space.

What’s beautiful is how this soil gives birth to the food on our plates; something which we all must appreciate more often. Speaking of appreciating things, all of us appreciated the sceneries around us, as they fulfilled our hearts. Looking at mesmerizing pink sunsets, or the wonderful mountain tops from our campsite, we looked forward to being out in the open for it gave us true hope.  

While we worked as critical and creative thinkers, this was just the tip of the iceberg. The skills that we developed and important life-learnings which camps helped us assimilate shall stay with us forever. May it be sitting around the bon-fire and jamming to melodies or working all day- we learned the importance of balance in life. You know how they say, work hard, play hard; camps were a great experience to learn how after a long day of work, you can relax with a group of friends and a hot cup of tea. Hence, we became balanced and responsible learners.  

Furthermore, camps gave us all an opportunity to re-define what grit and determination mean to us. The tasks required by our projects were extremely strenuous and intimidating at first. However, we all persevered. Even in the moments we wanted to give up, we were so focused on the final goal and our shared vision. Hence, we made it through by setting goals and collaborating effectively. Working with each other and supporting one another through challenging tasks was not the only “teamwork.” Much of this teamwork was mental; we acknowledged our diversity, to create efficient plans. Therefore, capitalizing on our unique strengths.  

Despite having blisters and injuries, we put a band-aid on it and woke up, with a drive to accomplish. We became risk-takers, as we climbed steep mountains which required proficiency in trekking. It is through this that we learned that learning happens by doing. We became trekkers, builders, and artists as we worked and learned simultaneously: something the IB education truly emphasizes.  

After camps, we have learned that hot coffee, pretty skies, and serving our community, are all the little joys of life we shall cherish forever. What are your beacons of hope in life? 

Overall, we are truly grateful to have had the opportunity to embark on this exhilarating journey. Not only did we grow as individuals, but this trip helped us re-define our passion for nature and service. By dabbling in the various projects, we learned to find happiness in the shared hope of other communities: the villagers of Sattal. While camps were enriching on their own, seeing the community’s happy faces and smiles made our journey all the more rewarding. Hence, to end, we would like to quote the wise Jane Goodall, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Might we dare to say, that we decided to make a remarkable difference and succeeded while doing so.