Why dream camps? People ask us at times. They ask, why do we take our kids out to camps when we could rather sit down with them in classes and teach them? One might think we should focus more on increasing their depth in life-skills and subjects instead of taking them out on a vacation like this. To take them out of their comfort zones. To challenge them.
This is where MAD starts thinking differently. Because we know that Dream Camp is not just the quintessential fun summer camp. It is about giving our children a taste of a world that is different to the four walls of their shelters. It is about challenging them and helping get out of the real world problems they may face when they go out of their shelters into a new world.
We aim at creating activities that help them understand their dreams better and at the same time give them a pathway to show them how they can achieve them. Make A Difference organizes Dream Camps with a vision that every child in MAD will be inspired to dream and believe in their dreams and they have an idea on how to plan their dreams and what it takes to get there.
But it’s not just our children who learn new things and are motivated. Volunteers go through an equally eye-opening experience bonding with the kids and learning from them in those three days. Such was the magic that was seen in the Nagpur Dream camp, where Aditi Baitule had a beautiful experience herself!
During her time in the dream camp, she was the mentor for five children from one of our shelters. They had a habit of praying at night. Since there were no lights in the tent, they asked her if they could use the flashlight on her mobile. So she gave them her cell phone and the kids convinced her to come and pray with them. Even though she didn’t know how to pray, the kids told her not to worry and showed her how it was done on her mobile.
“The first thing that the kids did was be thankful for their day’s happening. Right from the fact that the bus dropped them safely on the campsite, to them having three whole meals that day. It was really amazing and inspiring how they remembered each and everything that they had to be thankful for!”, says Aditi who almost broke into tears when the kids innocently included her in their prayer asking God to keep her and her family safe. The best part was that they showed such a gesture even after knowing her just for one day.
Dream Camps often give us a deep insight into our children’s strengths, such as love and care for others and the responsibility and ownership that they show. Being thankful for the smallest of blessings in life was something that Aditi learned from the kids as she now prays every night before going to bed because that’s what she promised her kids that day!
One of the sessions which was conducted in the Nagpur was ‘Seed and Stone’, where the kids had to bury a stone (which symbolized a bad habit they had before the dream camp) in the ground. Then they were given a seed, which they had to take back home (the seed symbolized a good habit that they learned from the camp). The idea was that, the “stone” would be left back behind them after the camp and the “seed” was to be kept with them all their life which would turn into a beautiful tree that their future is going to be!
When the children were asked to brainstorm about this, one of the kids walked him to his mentor Ajinkya. He fished his pocket to take out two packets of tobacco and placed them in Ajinkya’s hand saying, “Bhaiya this is something that has been pulling me down and I want to get rid of it, because I think this is going to hamper my dream of becoming an IAS officer!” So Ajinkya simply went with the kid and buried those packets in the ground.
A big step. Leaving behind a vice to turn over a new leaf. Something, Ajinkya says, he will remember for the rest of his life.
Make A Difference works in the hope of seeing a day when our kids develop a vision of their own future and work hard to sustain that dream. A day when they come out of their shelters and lead beautiful lives, making their own way through new problems and tough situations. We yearn for a day when our kids start dreaming dreams without measuring them in flasks. Dream big. When they work towards their dream, achieve it and dream the next one. For as long as there is a dream, there is hope; as long as there is hope, there is a joy in living!
– Shreyas Kumar