Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ramanagaram - A chapter that you’d seldom learn in books

In the midst of nature, hills that towered into the clouds, fresh air, birds and beasts that dotted the landscape- it all looked like straight out of a movie. Oh! Wait! It actually is! Hosting the likes of Bachchan and Dharmendra,  for the shooting of the timeless Bollywood classic, Sholay, Ramnagaram , located about 50 kilometres outside Bangalore, was also the setting for the Dream School Foundation’s adventure outing.  Leading the expedition was Sunand Sampath who in the past, has conquered many a mountain peaks around the world, all set to capture the minds and hearts of those teeming teens from our various centers.

Setting aside, Algae, Akbar and Algebra, students were in store for lessons that you’d seldom find in school curriculum. The Antakshari competition on the bus ride brought out the competitive side of the two teams that belted out filmy numbers and even the national anthem in an attempt to outdo their rivaling team. As we took a short walk to our camp site, we were amazed by sights that one would never witness in the city of Bangalore. Nature sure smiled upon us as the weather and mood was just perfect for a full day of fun learning. Rumbling tummies found reprieve as piping hot upma, an Indian donut (the indigenous vada) and a healthy helping of kesaribath was gorged down, taking energy levels to the fullest.

Sergeant Sunand briefed the gathering on how this day was about conquering your fears, challenging yourself to achieve new goals, the importance of teamwork and how you can overcome any obstacle, no matter how big the test. Though this lesson was brief, it left an indelible mark that was to be their guiding principle in all the activities that followed. Splitting the group into two, the Rockstars and Yo! Yo! Monsters took on their first set of activities for the day. As the first group took to the Zip lining activity, 
the second contingent got ready to tackle Zummaring.

Some who might get dizzy by just looking at the height from where you were expected to zip line across would definitely think a million times before strapping up for the adrenaline pumping ride. Ensuring the highest safety standards was of priority, the first student was all set to take the leap of faith and traverse on to the other side. Off he went, and whoosh! Cheered by friends from terra firma, all fears were allayed and everybody waited for their chance with much eagerness. One by one, students whizzed passed and had ear to ear smiles and screams of excitement as the zipped across to the other side.

Panning across to the Zummaring arena, the Yo! Yo! Rockstars were at it like pros. Also a lesson in mountain climbing, this exercise taught one how to tackle those tricky treks the right way. Those who gave up half way were egged on by teammates to put in that extra effort and reach the top. It was this spirit that was heartening to see, as another lesson  in teamwork and team spirit was successfully being put into action.

As groups concluded both activities it was time to replenish those energy levels with a sumptuous lunch. A quick lunch break and wetting those throats that were well parched from all that cheering, the latest set of adventure enthusiasts were all set for the toughest activity of all- Rappelling.  Rappelling down a steep rock face is no child’s play, but the instructors at our camp were simply superb; encouraging words and allaying their fears, the instructors made sure all our students felt safe and protected as they took that first step off the edge. Those who had conquered their fears and completed the activity did a splendid job in   reassuring their friends that there was nothing to worry about. 

At the other end of the camp, a game of Dodge Ball was on, which involved a lot of team work and strategizing to emerge victorious. Once again, those lessons that Sunand Sir had to share were being put into practice, bringing out the best in our students. Concluding the day’s activities, the last and final activity was Tug-O-War. Split into two teams, on command, they pulled at the rope like they were hauling an elephant. The team that won was elated with joy as they hi-fived each other, content and lauding their team efforts. 

As we journeyed back, the mood was sober, as all of us soaked in each and every moment of our day. The picturesque setting, the activities and all those valuable lessons that otherwise are hard to come by. For us, this day will go down as a memorable one that will remain fresh in our minds just like the air that Ramnagaram had to offer. For us, this day will remain etched and woven deep into our hearts as a day of fun and learning in the many years to come.

--Karun Gopinath

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