Originally written by Vikas Hotwani
“But why is it called MAGIC Bus?” “You mean the bus will fly?” “But what kind of magic?” “So no magic outside the bus?” At some level, it is not terribly tough to handle such questions. After all, that’s what MAD volunteers do all year round. But the problem starts when a bunch of 57 hyperactive kids ask you these questions at 6.30 in the morning! Yes. 6.30 of the A and the M!
But then, in their defense, the occasion wasn’t an insignificant one either. It was MAD’s last camp of this academic year – an overnight stay at the MAGIC BUS activity center! The idea was simple – to have fun (like duh!) and scoop some learning in the process.
A two-hour journey took us to Asarwadi – Magic Bus’ hometown. And the moment we reached, the activities kicked in. The bhaiyas and didis divided us into four groups. Soon, there was FIFA on one side, Royal Tigers on the other, followed by Fantastic 15 and of course, Paper! (Yes, we love our group names. And no, you are NOT allowed to feel otherwise).
The idea was to instill a sense of self-confidence among our children and nourish the team-player in them. And all of this was done via a set of innovative games where the team would succeed only if each member participated and most importantly, listened! The volunteers took a backseat and watched in awe as steadily, the kids took charge of dealing with the initial confusion and structure themselves into an effective team.
The activities were lined up back to back and each gave away nuances of success. The best part – no books involved. There was learning by doing at every step. And the results were there to see. The first day closed with a campfire where our kids presented short skits embedded with messages on environment, hygiene and positive study habits.
Early next morning (when FYI, the kids surprised us by waking up without an iota of hassle), we headed for a nature trail. Isn’t it far more interesting to be able to see and touch trees that you often see static in the books?
The day continued with more activities and more learning, until it was evening which meant it was time to leave. Bear hugs followed and finally, we were on our way back, still finding it tough to believe that an entire two days had simply vanished in thin air.
When we were almost there, a kid remarked, “Sir, main yeh do din kabhi nahi bhoolonga.” And we secretly hope that with all the fun, the kids would also remember all what they learned. Correction: we don’t ‘hope’. Rather, we ‘know’.