Every year when we go to India we try to blog as often as possible, to help let people in the UK know what is going on. Unfortunately we often have a very busy schedule in India and start most blogs with “sorry we haven’t blogged more”. To try and be a bit more consistent we are now trying to blog every week, to try and keep people informed of what is happening with Chennai Challenge, but also to challenge people and to give you something to think about. However this week I am late, mainly because I have been camping, which makes getting online a bit tricky. So this week I would like to talk about camping, both here in the UK and in India.
In the UK camping can offer the chance to feel closer to nature, to see some of the great outdoors, to cook on an open fire and be free from the shackles of mobile phone signal. Although it is possible to do lightweight camping, hiking to sites and carrying all your things, we recently took the slightly easier option of taking the car, along with a surprisingly large amount of equipment to make our home from home. So the great outdoors did have a gas hob, cool box and chairs, as well as an airbed. Just to make nature a little more comfortable. It was good to go to Shell Island
to see great scenery and survive the weather.
This experience is slightly different to our camping in India. Every year we take the boys from YMCA Kottivakkum destitute home away on a four day camp to Yelligiri Hills. All of the boys are at the YMCA because they do not have anyone else who can look after them. Some have lost one or both parents, some have been rescued from working in factories, they all need to be properly provided for, so the YMCA houses, feeds, educates and cares for them. Our trip to Yelligiri is always a highlight for them, it gets them away from the busy city in to clean clear air, a holiday that they otherwise would not have. The Yelligiri experience is quite different to UK camping, to start there are no tents. All the boys sleep in dorm rooms and all meals are provided by the campsite. This means that we fill the days with a program of activities from 7.00 am until 9.30pm. I’ll outline what we do:
7.00am Morning Jerks. Early morning exercise to get you woken up and warmed up. As temperatures could be as low as 18oC many of the boys are feeling very cold. After about 20/30 mins we have time to wash and change.
8.00am Breakfast. The most important meal of the day!
9.00am Morning devotion. A bit like a school assembly, we get everyone together for some thought and reflection, based on a theme for the day or camp. A bit of song and a bit of prayer.
9.30am Activities start. The boys are split into smaller groups and do a range of activities, some sporting, some craft.
10.30am Tea. You need to rehydrate and eat biscuits.
11.00am – 1.00pm More activities
1.00pm Lunch. The most important meal at this time. Followed by some free time
3.00pm Big activity. Some thing where all the boys take part, it could be our fairground or ‘It’s a knockout’, maybe even our school sports day.
4.30pm Tea. You can never have too much.
5.00pm More small group activities
6.00pm-8.00pm Free time
8.00pm Dinner. the most important evening meal.
9.00pm Evening devotion. A chance to reflect on the day and wind down ready for bed.
I hope you can appreciate that it is a very full schedule which takes a lot of energy to deliver, but is so very rewarding. It offers all the boys the chance to relax and have fun, to see that there are people who care. Rather than taking away the stress of a mobile phone, it may help them to remember that life can be enjoyed.
I hope you have found this informative, why not go camping this summer, or for the full effect join on Chennai Challenge to get the Indian experience as well