For many kids, a summer camp is the first time they’ve been out of their neighbourhood, offering them many invaluable experiences in their lives. However, due to lack of resources, financial constraints and other personal reasons it remains a distant dream for several kids who often do not get the opportunity to participate in such camps and miss out on the joy of enjoying sleepovers under the stars, make new friends and learn new lessons in their lives.
The heart-warming story of children from Sparsha, an NGO, which works towards supporting and giving opportunities to children for their comprehensive development, is one such story where the humble efforts taken by Angelina Jimenez a teacher at Canadian International School (CIS) gave these children a chance to step out of their community and fulfil their dreams of going out on a summer camp excursion.
While working at Canadian International School, Angelina decided to volunteer and teach English to the Sparsha Kids and thus began her entry into the lives of these kids. She soon realised that these children didn’t have a fully developed picture of the world and required more exposure and extracurricular activities to enhance their learning.
Even though these children lived 10 kms away from the nearest metro station they had no idea that it existed and had never travelled in the metro before. She then took them on a trip – a ride on the metro! And saw them ride the escalator for the first time at the station.
Integrating activity based learning:
This experience helped in enhancing their learning and made them more curious about the outside world. In a bid to further fill in the gaps in their learning, Angelina started integrating activity based learning in her teaching to make learning more conceptual and fun for them.
This assisted the children in becoming more passionate learners and enabled them to express themselves better. The smiles on the little faces also inspired Angelina to organize more such trips for these children.
Determined to create long lasting memories for these kids, she reached out to an owner of a camp organiser in Coonoor, Mr Nataraj, to collaborate on a summer trip for the Sparsha children.
After finalising a budget, she started raising funds with the help of students and faculty members from CIS by creating an online fundraising campaign. The campaign raised an amount of Rs. 1 lakh to organize a 4-day trip to Bandipur National Park for these kids.
First trip to Bandipur forest:
The kids were elated to go on their first trip and soon found themselves at the gates of Bandipur forest. They were excited to sleep in tents for the first time and were surprised to wake up and find themselves surrounded by Jamun trees, elephants, porcupines, peacocks and spotted deer.
They soon started their trek to reach Camp Mistea at the top of the hill. While walking through the woods they saw tea gardens and tree lined hills, wild gaur, boars, heard the chirps of a giant squirrel and learned to identify a few birds, including their favourite, the bulbul.
During their four days they got to test their strength, endurance and face new challenges by participating in several activities like rope climbing, jumping obstacle courses and playing team building games. These activities enabled them to understand the importance of teamwork and the joy of winning together.
Narrating her experience, Krishnaveni, student, Sparsha said:
“It was a wonderful experience for me. I got to make new friends and try out new things. I got to do activities such as ziplining that I never knew even existed. I can’t wait to go on more trips.”
Idea behind organising the trip:
The idea of organising this camp was to give shape to the children’s minds in such a way that once they have been shown the real world and are taught all the necessary life lessons, they can continue to understand their society better and can implement the important learning’s in their own lives.
Here’s what the teacher said:
“The support I received from CIS was overwhelming and it was great to see the community reach out to help the Sparsha kids. I really enjoy making these kids experience something that they have probably never even imagined. The joy that you see on their faces is so inherently satisfying. I will be leaving at the end of the school year and I really hope someone else can carry on taking the Sparsha kids on their adventures.” said Angelina Jimenez.
Angelina was further able to raise Rs 60,000 to organise another trip to Tamil Nadu for the Sparsha Kids. However, due to a huge forest fire their trip got cancelled.
“I would like to thank Angelina and CIS community for making this trip possible for us. The 4-day trip will always be a memorable experience for me. We learnt several essential lessons like how natural products are made, how to use a zip line and make an eight knot rope. Me and my fellow mates will always remember the songs which we sang and stories while we sat having dinner next to the camp fire.” said Pallavi, a class 9th student at Sparsha.
In order to ensure that their precious smiles don’t fade away Angelina managed to arrange for a tempo traveller to a nature camp in Hosur for 3 days with 2 CIS teachers also tagging along to help her out.