Mad-wards and beyond..

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By Soneet Sindhu and Rijuta Joshi

“The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
William Shakespeare

Childhood is looked upon with much fondness because it is here, where the foundation of life lies. And to nurture this very aspect, MAD Nagpur organized the “MADwards – Touched By A Dream” camp at the picturesque Maitraban. It was a two-day affair which included educational sessions and adventure sports organized for our children of Standard 5 and above.

After a long wait, the D-day finally arrives. The scenes were identical across all 3 centers; a wake-up call echoing in the rooms, children gobbling down breakfast to charge up their batteries for an exhilarating day ahead, a group of volunteers checking names against lists and the children getting excited at the sight of a yellow bus drawing closer to them.

Lines were formed, seats were assigned and goodbyes were waved. As the children enter the bus with wide eyed wonder at the sight of many new faces, they settle down quietly. Once the bus started, someone started singing the new hit song and suddenly, they became one and sang their hearts out.

As the yellow bus reached Maitraban, the volunteers come pouring out of their tents to welcome a string of bobbing heads. The children from the 3 centers: Home Of Hope, Sharansthan and YuvaJyoti were sorted in groups and assigned to their respective volunteers.

An ice breaking activity – a two-legged race for the girls and a fun variant of basketball for the boys – kept the children engaged. Refreshments followed and the kids were taken for a career awareness session by CDS S.S. Nathan, talking about the life in the navy. With the help of a wonderful presentation, the importance of hard work and good grades was re-enforced in their minds.

After using up all that grey matter, the children went to their tents to rest. A short nap and dinner later, the children geared up for merry making by the bonfire! A DJ played all the popular numbers that made the kids jump off their seats and dance till their soles wore out. Two hours of pure fun and frolic and the children were directed to their tents to be tucked in their beds.

The second day of the camp started early with a 5:30 am wake-up call; the kids had to be ready for a bout of adventure sports. Neither the cold winds nor the drop in temperature dampened their enthusiasm, as they readied themselves for Burma rope, Monkey Bridge, wall climbing, rappelling and a specially designed obstacle course. A few hours of twisting, jumping and balancing acts later, the children sat down for a session on Child Rights by John Menachery.

As the session ended, so did this two-day camp life. The children packed their belongings and lined outside their tents, a little sad but a whole lot happier, having been a part of this experience. As they waited for the yellow bus, the volunteers were hugged and promises were made to visit all of them again.

The camp had brought all of us together, facing new challenges and meeting new people; and as the camp came to a close, every volunteer realized that they too had learnt a lot and built a 2-way learning bridge that connected volunteers and kids alike!

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