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Managed by two to three full-time resource persons and other guest resource persons, the other activities in the camp include games on ecological themes, story-telling sessions, film screening and the like. Sitting around the campfire, brain-storming sessions and discussions on topics like friendship, gender sensitivity, dignity of labour and biodiversity conservation are held. They are also taken for nature walks. "The camp facilitates creative expression and true participation of children in a community environment. Though there are no hi-fi facilities here, children learn life skills, teamwork and develop concern for environment,” says Dr Sanjeev Kulkarni, mentor of the camp.
For students who are passionate about wildlife and forests, herpetologist Gowri Shankar offers an action-packed camp at 'Kalinga Mane’ in Agumbe hobli in Shivamogga district. Started five summers back, the camp, which is for students above 10 years of age, helps understand life of animals and birds from close quarters. The participants are engaged in conducting visual surveys on snakes, frogs, birds, mammals etc in their natural surroundings in addition to other flora and fauna. They learn about forest types and animal behaviour. They are made to engage in other outdoor activities and told about wildlife as a career option.
For those having the drama-queen in them, Bengaluru-based Sanchari Theatre group is conducting a residential theatre camp in the Janapada Seva Trust premises at Melukote in Mandya district.
Conducted mainly by theatre persons N Mangala and Gajanana T Naik, this camp is more than a normal theatre camp. Here, the campers are free to explore the artiste in them. They are taught various aspects of drama, music, dance and craft. "This year, our activities will be inspired by Melukote, folklore and Gandhian thoughts. Last year, the camp was held in Ramanagara and the children were taken to silk farms, 'Alemane’ and other picnic spots in the surroundings to make them aware of our heritage,” opines Mangala. "The children had also organised a flea market and mock chariot procession. Getting mobile phones, video games and other gadgets to the camp is strictly prohibited. Here children are made to stay independently and we help them connect emotionally. They are taught to have social interactions which is lacking in urban areas. In this fast-moving world, we have become machines.
Performing arts like drama helps children improve their concentration and rejuvenate jaded souls.”
Another unique theatre-based camp called 'Malebillu’ is being hosted by Sagara-based Spandana group. This camp, organised at Kuvempu Centenary Memorial in Kuppalli, the birth place of Jnanpith awardee Kuvempu, in Shivamogga district, teaches dramatics and Kannada language to the children. Children from Bengaluru, Kolar, Dharwad, Ballari and other places attend this camp every year. At the end of the camp, children stage dramas of Kuvempu. This apart, resource person Kadidal Shamanna explains various aspects of photography. "At the camp, our aim is to develop team spirit, time sense and make them know about the importance of relationships. We also stress on children learning proper Kannada language. Sessions on Kuvempu’s songs, folk art and film screening are held to facilitate appreciation of Kannada language,” explains camp director M V Pratibha.
"My two sons have fond memories of the camp. I chose this as I did not want them to join a commercial camp where there is no space for creativity. At this camp, my children learnt many lessons that are not taught at home or school. They have learnt to work effectively in teams and are no more fascinated by gadgets. They could also indulge in many activities like trekking and stargazing that are rare in cities,” shares Dr Kousthubha, a pathologist from Shivamogga.
There is a notion that most of the summer camps are meant for urban children from well-to-do families. But that’s not true. Bhavikyata Vedike (forum) of Hospet, under the leadership of forum convener P Abdul Saab and theatre researcher
P Sahana, conducts camp for slum children. The forum has been conducting this camp free of cost since 2006. At the camp, resource persons voluntarily teach kids bayalata, drawing, theatre, street plays, karate, yoga, mono acting etc. Also, the children are engaged in rural games. At the end of the camp, a three-day drama festival is held. Hubballi-based Agastya Foundation has also tied up with them to teach the children various concepts of physics and chemistry through demonstrations.
Karavali Boating and Adventure Centre, Karwar and General Thimayya National Academy of Adventure, Bengaluru hold adventure camps that are totally different in nature. This year, the camps are being held at Vanivilas Sagar in Hiriyur in Chitradurga district and in Karwar.
"Children start loving adventure and water once they are into it. We help them overcome fears and instill confidence for adventurous activities. At our camp, we teach children kayaking, rafting, canoe, banana ride, surfing, jet ski, speed boat etc.
Also, fitness, safety and first-aid classes are held to give them an overview of these topics. In Karwar, children are taught swimming and other water adventure sports in the backwaters of River Kali and in the sea. Kids are taken for guided trekking and island visit to stimulate their quest for discovery. Some are even engaged in sand art on the beach,” says trainer Prakash Harikantra.
At the end of the day, all these summer camps facilitate children to pursue their interests and improve their knowledge. Needless to say, learning new skills in a team makes them better human beings.