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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Adventure training camp with NALS 23.24 April 2011

The Adventure training camp with families and children with special needs was a great success .Seven Families  - five  from Coimbatore and two from Bangalore joined us .We all met at  our home and went up by bus from Coimbatore to The NALS campsite at Colacumby , 20 km off Coonoor.

It was pouring when we left at around 2.30 pm and our hearts were down...wondering what we will be able to do in the pouring rain. The rain seemed to lighten up enroute and our spirits soared a bit .It was still drizzling at 6.30pm when we reached the Sultana Estate where the campsite is.

We were given a warm welcome by Lt Seshadhri and his team at the estate gates and they rode with us to the Dormitory where we were to stay .We had some lovely Chai and biscuits and generally sat around talking to each other .We were then allocated our rooms and we settled down .At 8.00 pm dinner was served .

Tummies full we were all ready for some action but the rain would not let up so we decided to liven up the atmosphere ourselves .Moms and kids played Oranges and Lemons and Dumb Charades while the Dads chatted away .The siblings had a great time too.

I briefed the team about our children as they were still having some apprehensions about safety and also ,they did not feel confident communicating with our kid’s .One of the other moms also joined me and after 15 minutes they were all confident about the whole thing.

Later into the night the NALS team entertained us with a beautiful Himachali folk dance .This really broke the ice and the children and the adults were all out there showing off their talents. Reluctantly we retired to our rooms at 11.00pm as we had to wake up by 5.30 am to start trekking at 6.30 am .The bunk beds were really comfortable and soon we dozed off...

We were all woken up at 5.30 and after freshening up and some Chai, we were ready for the morning trek .Surprisingly the kids...were up too [except a couple of them] .We trekked uphill on the road ….the morning air was crisp and the greenery looked really fresh because of the rains .The coffee flowers were in bloom and were a pretty sight .The kids spotted a lone bison drinking water off a mountain stream .There was a humongous beehive on one of the trees. We also saw a lot of jackfruit trees...the fruit was not yet ripe .Lt Seshadhri told us that  the owners of the plantation do not sell the fruit but leave it for the bears and elephants that visit this 6500acre estate .

Suddenly we were asked to keep to the side of the road...the only bus that connects the people on the estate to the nearest town 9 km away passed us .Then we were off again. We decided to get back through the rugged path .It was a little slippery because of the rains but the NALS team helped us make it down back to our living area safe and sound .As we reached back the view of the hills ahead was breathtaking .The sky was clear and the mountain peaks were nested in little clouds . I was humming the Carpenters song …”I’m on top of the world …looking down on creation…. “

It was 7.30am when we got back from our hour long trek...still 30 minutes to go for breakfast .Some of the kids sat around patiently...the trek had left them a little tired and they peacefully took in the mountain air .One of the boys played happily with the pebbles .The girls and moms decided to play hopscotch while waiting .It was really fun and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it .Breakfast was lovely..Puri bhaji and Upma and Ragi kanji .I certainly over ate.

We were then called for our next activity … the high ropes … There was a ladder up a tree made of bamboo which led to a set of 2 ropes about 3 feet apart tied up to another tree about 15 – 20 feet above the ground .Our task was to walk on the lower rope holding on to the upper rope and reach the next tree .From the next tree we had to negotiate and cross the “Burma bridge" again made out of ropes ..get to the third treetop and then drop down to the ground again using a rope .We were all asked to wear safety harnesses which ensured we will not hit the ground in case we slip and helmets to protect our heads.

This seemed a scary proposition for us adults but the kids treated it like a joy ride .The first one to go up and complete successfully was a 5 year old girl and then her 10 year old brother [in the spectrum ] followed suit .They made it look like a cake walk . ,,once all the kids were done it was the adults turns .We also did a fairly good job .Only a couple of kids needed some extra help/prompts and one of them was too scared to go beyond the ladder to the ropes .One young lady did not try at all .

Over all it was great fun and showed us what the possibilities were .I for one was really surprised at the nonchalance with which Nishant  did the activity …given the fact that he was really afraid of heights ..would not go up a slide till a few years ago.

We then decided to walk  to the mountain stream down the hill and let the kids have a little fun in the water. The water was cool, the rocks was really fun .Most of the kids got completely wet and enjoyed themselves thoroughly .there were couple of falls but no injuries . We got back to the dormitory and had a nice warm bath. Hot tasty lunch was waiting for us...we all ate...mostly in silence...I guess we were content and exhausted at the same time.

We were all thinking of some rest …a snooze perhaps but the NALS team thought otherwise...we were going to do another trek... a longer one around the hill in front and come back through the tribal village nested just below our living area. I am glad I did not opt for the snooze...the trek was really wonderful .First we passed a herd of bison and then a breathtaking waterfall .Further down we passed some ruins and a drinking hole for the animals [like a pond] . The trees formed a canopy over our heads so we did not feel the sun .The final stretch of the trek was along the edge of the hill...a single path flanked by tall grass...overlooking the Silent valley and the Kerala border .That part was really strenuous on some of us who were not used to the terrain .Some of the kids needed a lot of breaks and pushing to complete the last bit.

Finally after two hours we reached the tribal village .Friendly smiles greeted us...mainly kids and the men folk were out at that point. There was one old lady who proudly pointed to one of our guides and told us that the young girl was here granddaughter.  They mainly eked out a livelihood working on the plantation and now a couple of girls who had completed their education had joined the NALS team as support staff. Many had migrated out to the citied in search of a better living.

We finally reached our dormitory  and settled down for a hot cuppa .After a short while it was time to pack and leave .The goodbyes took a long time as we had become a close knit family by now .The NALS team who had done an excellent job sang us a lovely farewell song [pal pal dil ke pas ..] A couple of families were staying back...the rest of us piled onto the bus.

The way back was fun too...some of us settled into silent contemplation while others chatted away.... the kids decided to entertain us with “Kadi” jokes .We decided to eat something in Mettupalayam as it was already late. We reached home at 9.30pm and bid adieu to everyone.

We had no electricity that night... the cable from the pole to our house had burnt out during the rains on Saturday night...but we slept in peace...our body had spent its energy and our souls  were content. We got up to the real world on Monday morning but felt rejuvenated enough to face anything .

The most important lesson for me from this trip was 

“Believe in the potential of our children and they will come out in flying colours “  


  1. So happy to see this event happened successfully. I must congratulate all the parents and coordinators to make this event succesful. Hope to see more of this events for all those who missed it.

  2. “Believe in the potential of our children and they will come out in flying colours “ - This is the most beautiful sentence in entire blog !!!