“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk” Raymond Inmon
We were getting ready for Balthali hike. It was the years first hiking for students at Aksharaa School Kandaghari, Grade 4 & 5 had already left for Bandipur & Chitlang and today it was for grade 3’s turn. As I reached Aksharaa, Parents started to come to drop their children; we were supposed to move at 9 from the school. Well I was excited as hiking has always been a part of my interest and happiness; it’s simply a reason to get closer to the nature. However a bit confused & overwhelmed as it was the first time with such younger children, so I had kind of a mixed feeling.
Parents seemed very worried and it was obvious being a parent to an eight/nine year old and sending them for an overnight trip. They even showed concern towards the weight of the bag that they carried as it was 2 hours uphill and downhill hike. I was in doubt myself but I tried to convince them as deep down I had trust that children are stronger than adults , here I remember a quote from Lady Bird Johnson “Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them” and I could see it true there! But then, it was their first time, very first time!
The bus stopped at khopasi, children were so excited to get down, I can’t explain in words! Then the journey started, we walked and walked. While on the way I observed the children and their behavior. It was difficult for some of them but then I had to motivate them, sometimes showing the little boys and girls for whom the travel seemed everyday task and sometimes old man & women who carried huge luggage on their back while walking. The amazing thing was that they didn’t give up, what they knew was yes the bag is heavy and I’m tired, but I have to make it to the top! Though for me, inside I was very scared for the kids as the walkway was very narrow and one wrong step would lead something serious! I had been telling and shouting throughout the way, on your left, on your right, please walk through the corners! Some of them were very scared of the suspension bridge (we had to cross 3) which they enjoyed the most while returning.
The good thing about Balthali hike we could view our destination from the base , though it would take a great deal to make it to the top, the top view from the bottom was a great inspiration thinking that we’re a step closer. And finally after 2 hours hike we made it. Personally it wasn’t much of as compared to the hikes I have been earlier; this was an easy one full of fun with natural beauties. However, could be difficult for the ones having first time though.
I was thinking the kids must be so tired but alas! I was so wrong; as I could see them running and playing all around when we reached at the top of Balthali Eco Hill Resort. I was with the last group as I wanted to assure that no one is left behind or to check if everything was alright. We divided them in groups of 3, 4 and 5 numbers among 4 teachers and 4 parents including myself making sure that we give them proper attention while they have fun. They enjoyed the lunch and dinner, we did too! The food was really good, so was the room, very neat and clean!!
I kept on checking time and again through the rooms to make sure that kids are safe and having good times. We made sure that we took the attendance regularly while and after the hike. They told stories, fun jokes and danced a lot. It was a very good chance to observe the children, how they felt being away from home. But to my surprise none of them even talked about home, they were so happy being away and to have been able to spend night with their friends. Teachers and parents (who accompanied) were enjoying with the kids talking and sharing. I could see it as a strong rapport build up opportunity. Also I observed some different sides in some of the students like I had never seen them being so responsible, taking care of themselves ( changing pajama’s, inners, brushing teeth, putting lotions on their own, looking for their belongings, keeping snacks thinking that they might need while returning back). Students along with teachers were very happy and excited to share the bed with their friends. But for me, I wasn’t sleep which generally happens when I leave home, I woke almost 5-6 times in midnight to check whether the kids had their blankets on or if anybody wanted to go washroom.
The next day we woke up and got ready for returning, returning trip was very easy compared to that of going and took less time as well. Some of the students also collected stones, leaves and pines. When I asked why they were doing so? They replied, it was a gift/souvenir for their parents, how sweet was that!
As most of the school these days take their students on trips, I would like to suggest must checklist and to-do’s prior the trip; Pre-Trip Activities, Set Learning Objective , Involving & Including Parents, Set Expectation & Discuss Possible Risk Factors & Post Trip Activity.
A well planned and well organized trip develops various skills in children such as working in collaboration, problem solving ability, leadership, also increases their socio-cognition, develops research habit, gives them ability to compare and contrast, observation skill, generates curiosity, love nature and most importantly makes them independent raising their self confidence. They also develop travelling habits using map skills; explore their own country with various culture and lifestyles which develops respect feeling in them.
School Coordinator, Aksharaa School