26 November, 2008

It's camp time yet again ...

Yes – Appu’s off to camp once again. She left yesterday and will be back only on Friday. And this time around, there are not going to be any cosy dormitories for them to bed down at night, no heaters to keep them warm, no warm water for shower in the mornings …. basically this is what has been termed an “Eco-Adventure Camp”.

They’re going to be out at sea (quite literally – that term in the figurative sense applies to the parents) on banana boats and what have you. They’ve been warned ahead of time that this is a camp that is going to wear them out physically because there are lots of looong hikes involved, most of them uphill.

They are going to be visiting a monastery, speaking to the monks there in Mandarin (Putonghua), finding out more about their lives and their way of life. This probably is an attempt to make the kids realize that living life frugally with just the bare minimum to keep you going is not just something one reads in books or watches in a movie – there are people who have willingly chosen to live lives of peace with just the basic requirements to keep them going day after day. Again, there is not going to be any transportation ferrying the kids to and from the monastery – they’re going to have to walk. And having been to the monastery ourselves, we do know that it is going to be quite a walk.

For their stay – the kids are going to have to pitch their own tents out in the open – in a space between a meadow and a beach. They are not going to be having any cushy mattresses or quilts or blankets to keep them warm and comfortable. They’ve had to carry their own sleeping bags this time around. There’s going to be no pillows to rest their heads on – they’ve just carried a pillow case and will, in all probability, be stuffing their day jackets into the pillowcase to make a makeshift pillow.

There’s absolutely no electronic equipment around – no TV, no lights at night, no telephone, no IPods – nothing. There’s going to be no midnight pajama party – cos by carrying snacks in their backpacks into their tents, they’d be risking inviting some critters and insects too – for their pajama party or the aftermath thereof.

At night, to make sure that a sense of adventure does not lead the kids to roam around in the wilderness, there is going to be a security detail all complete with security dogs too. Speaking of which, they’re going to have plenty of animals to keep them on their toes, quite literally. The meadow is said to be a wandering ground for wild buffaloes and it has been reported by the children who had been on camp last year that they saw a snake too.

The children are going to have to use the public toilets at the beachfront and that thought, in itself, is scaring the daylights out of me. Public toilets are such a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and fungi. And if any of the children need to use the toilet at night, they will need to inform a security guard who will then accompany the kids to the toilet. This is a nightmarish scenario. Especially these days when the motto is and should be "trust no stranger".

I found myself missing her yesterday and there are three more days to go before she gets home. And this time around, I find myself surrounded by this strange niggling sense of disquiet.

Worrying and getting anxious comes naturally to parents – it is an inherent part of parenthood, so much so that one could even go to the extent of calling it inborn or innate.

She’s been on quite a few camps in the past few years. Never before have I found myself looking at the clock every half hour and wondering as to what she must be doing. Never before have I found myself unconsciously telling myself “oh she must have had her shower by now” “hmmm she must have had her dinner by now” “God – hope the poor thing sleeps well and gets a good night’s rest” …….. the list was rather endless. The list IS rather endless, I mean. Time and again, thoughts keep wandering off and the worry keeps niggling.

It’s like a dull kind of a toothache actually – it keeps bothering, it keeps irritating and it keeps interfering with your daily life. It’s in the background and not in the forefront, but its definitely there. The anxiety, in its own way, quite unobtrusively, makes its presence felt.

I haven’t been able to put my finger on “why” this sense of disquiet is not giving way to one of acceptance. Probably because on a social level, she’s been having a tough time this year. The social and exclusion bullying that I’d written about earlier has not completely been resolved but she’s learning to cope with it better. Yet, it is still there – simmering below the surface. And with everyday life, even if she has been hurt or is confused or needs advise or needs to talk it out – there is the comfort factor of parents at home.

In a way, deep down within my heart, I know she’s going to miss that “one-on-one” time when she can open up and voice her qualms, her worries or reservations or seek counsel about any doubts or misgivings that she may have. Yesterday night too, I found myself hoping and praying that she’d have slipped into an exhausted slumber.

Or maybe its just me and my imagination playing tricks. I do so hope that is what it is.

I do so hope that she comes back from camp, thoroughly having enjoyed every minute of it – tired but happy. I do so hope that this camp proves to be a learning experience in more ways than one – for her and for us. In more ways than one, I do hope this brings her face to face with the knowledge that there exists a core of strength within herself that, when tapped into, helps go through and survive any situation. That, in itself, would be life’s biggest lesson learnt.

(*sigh*). Now who was it that said “growing up is easy” ??

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5 voice(s) said so:

Mama - Mia said...

am sure she is having a super time!! :)

cant wait to hear the rest once she is back!



Priyanka said...

WOW! This camp sounds great! I'm sure it will be one great experience for her, one she might remember life-long.
Don't worry, she will be fine. It will only make her tougher.

dipali said...

Oh Gauri, I can understand all your fears. I ust hope and pray Appu comes back one happy camper:)

choxbox said...

how was the camp?

Sujatha said...

Echoing chox's question...