SAIIER 2013:Auroville Nature Camp

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Auroville Nature Camp

Auroville Nature Camp brought together 74 student participants in three different groups this year. Students hailed from seven different Auroville and Outreach schools, including Aikiyam (18 total students), Deepanam (7), Last School (6), Pondi schools (2), TLC (5), Transition (33), and Udavi (3). Each of the three groups consisted of students of a variety of ages, between 9-14 years old. In addition, 40 adults accompanied the students, including a new group this year of ten ‘junior camp counselors’ or ‘apprentices’.

This is an opportunity for young people between 15-18 to be a part of camp while learning how to step up into adult roles and responsibilities.

As occurs every year at camp, there were numerous activities that the students engaged in. These included: daily fitness exercises and game playing, daily and overnight treks, playing sports, engaging in art projects with a nature centered focus, learning basic outdoor skills, rock climbing, helping in the kitchen with food preparation, skits and creation of a talent show, swimming, and more. But we would like to focus this report on the three major differences, and improvements, in this year‘s camp.

First, a few activities were introduced to camp for the first time this year. This included a workshop on basic First Aid. This also included an exercise to build and dismantle a temporary campsite in the forest, which focused on the principles of Leave No Trace, emphasizing the importance of zero impact when one enters the wilderness. The students also engaged in sauna building and wood carving, which helped encouraged team building skills. Second, the infrastructure of the camp has improved. It is a delicate balance to provide students who come to camp a rustic, outdoor experience, but also a clean, hygienic experience for everyone involved. This year students experienced brand new toilets, including hot water showers. This greatly improved the state of hygiene at the camp from previous years. Adult camp counselors observed that with the promise of hot water, more students were inclined to take showers and keep themselves clean.

Finally, with the generous help of SAIIER, Auroville Nature Camp was able to cover the participation costs of Rs. 2500 to any teacher from Auroville or Outreach School who attended Nature Camp. This year, six teachers were supported by SAIIER. We hope that this number will increase in 2014 and appreciate SAIIER‘s continued support.