Almost a fortnight long camp was the highlight of this summer. As anxious as we were about the outcomes of the camp to Shama RamGanga, Uttarakhand with a group of 29 kids along with Maitri group (Borivali, Mumbai) ranging from 10-18 years, the success of it was well proven by the happy faces of all the participants throughout the journey. The journey in itself began with 36 long hours to reach the first destination: Corbett! Having retired in the cottages at night, the next morning started with a trek and bus journey to next venue: Ranikhet!
Aww gaped from every child’s mouth seeing the beautiful cottage of Ranikhet which were to be their quarters for next day. Refreshing juice of the Buraans (Rhododendron) flower quenched their thirsts every time they were tired! Local plantations, first long trek for 5kms, visit to the village temple and games at night kept the kids active all the while. And then began a bus ride to the next destination: Shama, a heavenly abode for the city-ites! The scenic beauty of the region was extremely pleasant with a lot of butterflies in the stomachs due to the ghats, but nevertheless, playing antakshari for 6hrs kept boredom away!
Finally the baggage was dumped into a ramshackle garage, carrying stuff that would last for 3 days, the kids began climbing higher towards the Gyandhura Village located at a height of 8200 feet above the sea level! It was during this climb that they realized how vital the air is for sustaining! Tiny tracks lined by scary valleys at the edge were a marvelous sight. With all their might the kids trekked to their cottages… the pride of Shama! Once in the dining area, all the tiredness was washed off merely by looking the giant of Himalayas surrounding us. Seeing Nandadevi, Nandaghat, Trishul immediately brought geography textbooks in front of the eyes! No words would be enough to actually describe their might and beauty!
Shama stay was packed with never-done-before activities like Hay stack building, Earn-ur-meal, Egg Hunt, Present the location, entertain the locals and of course the campfire each night before the day ended! 29 aspiring enthusiasts with their heads high trekked for 15kms in the jungles of Shama without a single hurdle to stop their steps. The kids were amazingly supportive for each other and extremely careful! Guess it’s natural for all of us to get tamed in the demands of nature!
But as the itinerary would have its way, we had to move towards Nacchni for couple of days to enjoy water adventures! Resembling a base camp in every sense, passing through a metal bridge, staying in tents, the cold waters of the RamGanga river gushing by the side, swimming and body surfing in the mighty river and an inviting net in place for beach volley ball… what else would the kids have asked for??? The only lights at night were that of the moon and stars and that is when a kid came up to say “We waste so much of electricity each day”!! Nacchni was power-packed with the group divided in three teams for Mountain Bicycling, Kayaking and Slithering. The kids wouldn’t come out those cool waters inspite of such a strong current! None of them complained of their sim cards and earphones been taken away for almost a week now! Happy realization dawned: Life without screens is possible!!
The last of our destinations was Mukteshwar who welcomed us with chilly winds due to rains! The campsite couldn’t have been better than what we had. Apple plantations all around, with lovely flowers planted all along the tracks, the colors of nature surprising everyone with each step towards the massive tents well protected from the cold! Next day the kids did rappelling, rock climbing and flying fox. The adrenaline rush was felt right from the youngest to the eldest member in the group! Overcoming all their fears, may be for height, water or fall, the kids made sure that all their friends participate in each activity, boosting the ones who were hesitant! The sportsmanship spirit was indeed remarkable!
The camp came to an end but the journey continued… On the way to Kathgodam station, dinner was arranged at an South-Indian restaurant and to every one’s surprise the tiniest one in the group commented “We are eating with the lights and AC’s on after ages, it seems so out of the box after all these treats in Nature” . That is when Kshitij smiled, having served its purpose.
Having a life full of amenities and hundreds of options even for basic necessities is freakingly awesome, but sticking to basics of simplicity is where all the fun lies in. The respect for resources, the willingness to preserve them and their proper utilization is all that nature would like in return for his extravagant gift to humans – Life!!