When I joined MAD a couple of months ago, I really didn’t know what to expect. What happened to me in the interview was most definitely something I did NOT expect. I felt like the little lamb who had walked into a dark room only to realize that it was a lion’s den, and that there were not one, but two lionesses waiting with bared teeth (pretty sharp ones at that).
After scraping through the interview, just when you start thinking that things can’t get much worse, Murphy and his damned law walks in. If being traumatized by two women in an interview was not bad enough, it only got worse at the camp at the hands of another one. She wanted me to wear a bindi (for some unfathomable reason) and pretty much threatened me to make me do it. I don’t remember exactly what the threat was, but I vividly remember it as being dramatically violent. (The only solace was that most of the older volunteers were also being meted out similar treatment.)
I was already planning to quit MAD, :P when the camp kick-started and I was allotted my set of kids. Jr had told me that I will be mentoring a group of kids for the two days. Having never taken a MAD class before, my experience was limited (if any at all). I must admit I was a bit apprehensive, but I just thought it couldn’t be any worse than what I had been through already. (No, not even Murphy’s law works that well.)
Initially, I was just trying to help them win maximum points. But soon I realized that some of the kids were getting left behind. The focus then shifted from winning to giving everyone a fair chance and making sure that the kids actually benefitted from the experience. After all, like Jithin Sr said at the closure ceremony, we wanted the kids to take home some great memories and leave behind their fears and inhibitions, didn’t we?
There were times when I was a bit confused. The kids would come up with some idea or the other – do I let them continue with it, or suggest an alternative which was better? I felt that it was better to let them execute their own ideas than force mine upon them. The confidence that they would take out of having worked out some of their own plans would be a better value-addition for them, I inferred.
The ‘MAD’s got talent’ competition was perhaps the biggest challenge of all. Having led comprehensively until then, I knew the kids would be really disappointed if we lose. (While the judges were tabulating their final scores, I guess I was more nervous than the kids.) But, more than winning, I wanted the kids to have the chance to go out there and get rid of their stage fear.
I tried avoiding group activities, because the kids with more inhibition would get lost in the middle of it all. The older kids were quite capable of handling themselves and hardly needed any help. The smaller ones had to be coaxed and cajoled a little bit, though.
I have to mention Jinson here. This kid would hardly speak within the group on the first day. He would just look at me and give me a smile most of the time. Convincing him was difficult, but I finally managed to make him stammer and stutter through a speech during the competition. It wasn’t exactly impressive, but it was a huge step for him to go up on stage and speak. It was so satisfying to see.
Perhaps the most wonderful moments that you take home from camps like these are those when the kids just hold on to your arms and ask you for guidance, depending on you, trusting you to lead them and teach them. And I can’t quite forget the expressions on their faces when we eventually won. Priceless!
The V.Y.B. camp was my first MAD activity. If the rest of the MAD experience is going to be anything even close to it, I know I am in for a great time. Jr’s desperately-trying-to-be-funny-and-clever-and-failing joke apart, everything else about the camp was just brilliant! Can’t wait for more!!