The big day it was – Friday, January 9, 2015. Kavya and her classmates why just classmates the entire Class IV was going on a field trip to Durshet Forest Lodge near Adlabs Imagica. Shishuvan also has this concept of parent volunteers and this time they wanted only Fathers. I was one of the 12 Fathers entrusted with this mammoth task of handling 108 kids. Honestly, they may look like kids but these 10 year olds when they gang up together, are an extra energised combination. We were to report to school at 0630 and believe me waking up at 0800 is a challenge for Kavya on normal days but that day waking up at 0500 was a breeze despite having slept past midnight. She was ready before me at 0600 which is another record! Kids they never cease to impress. All they need is a motive close to their hearts and they are all set – come hell or waters high.
The school ground resembled a crowded bus depot with a melee of parents ensuring the last-minute instructions to their wards. After all it was their first overnight trip and there would be no phone calls, no Whatsapp updates etc. (Volunteers were specifically instructed not to use Whatsapp and the network there was abysmally slow – 2G – so much for Whatsapp)
We left at 0700 in three buses for the 3 divisions. One thing I learnt is that they don’t permit any Bollywood songs so the kids need to be creative and think of songs other than Bollywood. The only song that I could remember (aside of the usual picnic songs we grew up with) was O La Paloma Blanca. I distinctly remember Adil and me singing it on the stage in school. As the kids sang their songs (they have a school song too. Impressive!), we fathers were busy exchanging notes on what each one of us did etc.
Reached there at 0900 and it was a very nice place. Kids swarmed to the ground so it appeared like a sea of yellow and green all over. They divided the children in groups of 9 so each dad had to take care of 9 kids and they had ensured that no father gets to watch over his own kid. I just tried to ensure Kavya had breakfast in the morning. Next thing I am instructed by her is “Treat me like any of the other 108 kids!” I was stunned.
They had different sets of activities such as ladder climbing, team game, map making. Interesting team games and the best thing was when kids would encourage each other to deliver. Wow!! It didn’t matter if they were from the same division or not. Encourage and enjoy! After a sumptuous lunch, there was rest but in the company of the kids, sleep was ruled out for me.
In the afternoon the kids had an enthralling set of activities – rappelling and zip lining. An amazing experience and every child (save and except a solitary case) made it. Absolutely no inhibitions. They didn’t give a damn about fear of falling, failing etc. And this time the support from other students was just deafening. Each one egged on the other to carry on with cries of “Come on, you can do it” echoing in the air all the time.
In the evening, they had to do some entertainment activity so each group was working hard at being creative and they had to ensure participation from the entire team. Some danced (some dance to remember, some dance to forget – Hotel California by The Eagles) while some presented skits. At night a bonfire with the local talent performing some amazing stunts which as a yoga student made me realise that even though they looked like stunts they were well-practiced yogasanas.
The next morning, I was woke up not by the alarm but by the boys! Amazing energy. They were out at the appointed hour and they had to gather some natural waste such as fallen leaves, twigs etc. and make a presentation. Interesting to see kids work on such things. We then went to a village and met the locals there. Understood their way of life. We also visited the local school. Returned to the resort for a game of treasure hunt and then lunch.
Boarded the bus and left at 1600 sharp as per schedule and entered the school gates at 1827 again 3 minutes ahead of schedule.
- Children are naughty PERIOD. They may paint a docile picture at home but when with their friends they are something else. (But let us be candid weren’t we the same?) Their collective energy is infectious.
- The teachers insisted that children eat salads, vegetables during meals and not just the stuff they liked (sweets etc.).
- Anyone reading this blog for next year, don’t worry. The kids took good care of me. And the school ensured all of us were well fed. And yes I didn’t lose a miligram of weight.
- Kids love to get away from parents so let them be independent. They learnt how to pack and unpack their bags and lug the heavy luggage (for those who got that) on their own. Parents, please consider how much you load your child with. Be practical. It is only for one night. And when the school has said no food, please don’t give the children food. They as it is stuff you with food.
- And don’t worry about your child falling sick (Mothers PLEASE note). We had one child who was feverish and he was well cared for.
- Also safety maybe a concern for parents but the activities were as safe as they could be unless you are paranoid about lightning striking or the roof falling only on your child for which there is no cure.
- Reminded me of all my school trips. I was so nostalgic that on Sunday our school Whatsapp group more than doubled in a matter of a few hours and yes we are planning a reunion picnic.
Take a look at the pictures here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk6YnS55