Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Adventure Camp

I've finally finished that article on life in the Army that was harrying the life out of me. It took almost a notebook full of notes and two nightouts, but is still pretty terrible. It somehow reads like a bad recruiting brochure.

However, writing and researching it dredged up some long forgotten memories. Thanks R for that long reminiscing chat, it really helped. I recalled my experiences at the Young Lions Adventure Camp, that I attended in the summer vacations when I was 10 years old. I had quite forgotten about it (and this might've been my trauma response) until our chat that night. The camp was for the children of officers, to give them some experience of life in the wild. It lasted ten days, but after three, I called home and bawled so loudly, my parents came to get me. Three days were quite enough for me though K- trooper that he is- stayed the whole ten.

When they said the camp would provide hands-on experience, they weren't kidding. We lived in tiny tents pitched on grass. The facilities were rustic, to say the least. During the welcoming dinner, we were asked what our favourite music was. Everyone yelled either Ricky Martin or Celine Dion which were both names I hadn't ever heard of then. Their reason for asking was apparent the next morning when we were woken up at 4 am by Ricky Martin proclaiming his love for Maria. We had to rush, bathe in icy and not very clean water and then report for PT in the ground by 4:30. The end of some pretty vigorous exercising was proclaimed (rather ironically) by Celine Dion informing us soulfully that her heart would go on. It was in camp that I conceived my deep and lasting hatred for that song.

Breakfast would comprise muddy toast and a strange looking poha before it was off to the field for different sessions and workshops. In my three days, we had workshops on fire safety, horse riding, rope climbing and most interestingly, knot tying. Knot tying was most interesting because the first half of the workshop comprised only a lecture by this old JCO. He constantly mispronounced knot as nut. So, I spent the first half hour of the lecture wondering what thumb nuts were, till he finally whipped out a piece of rope and demonstrated.

Evenings were times of peace and quiet in the camp, we would gather in this communal tent and socialize. I made many new friends there, some of whom are in touch with me to this day. Camp wasn't all that bad, though I was horribly homesick and wanted my mother, after being woken up at 4 am two days in a row. Still, the event that pushed me over the brink was the snake's visit. On the second day, when we returned from morning PT (Celine echoing that her heart would go on) there was a tremendous commotion in the girls barracks. A snake had been found in a tent. Soon, these brave looking officers came running with pitchforks and killed it. After breakfast, the snake was displayed to us with its head cut off. We were all invited to touch it while an officer told us with relish that it was a harmless grass snake and that it would make a tasty meal on the field. I took the time to be quietly sick in a corner. That afternoon, the snake was cooked in gravy and served for lunch. That evening, I called home and bawled till my parents promised to come and get me the next day.

I was told that the day after I left, they demonstrated how to kill chickens. You're supposed to flick your wrist while holding a live chick by the neck, till the neck breaks.


$udhi said...

"You're supposed to flick your wrist while holding a live chick by the neck, till the neck breaks."

*feeling sick*

"the snake was cooked in gravy and served for lunch"

*gotta skip canteen*

i just don't understand how kids (at that time) knew Ricky Martin and Celine Dion.

~$udhi :)

Nithya said...

@$udhi, it was 1998. My Heart Will Go On had just been released. Maria also came out at about the same time.

Cirrus Spray said...

:D That was one good story at the expense of three days of your life!

Mohan said...

haha... camps are damn interesting... i dnt knw why, but i had attended an arya samaj camp when i was 12... tents and wildlife and hunting and a lot of havan :P though no flicking of our wrists to break the neck of a chicken...

Ashish Goel said...

Hey. Had quite a similar experience when attending an NCC camp at the age of 13. 20 of us were stuffed in a tent as big as our hostel rooms. To frighten us further, upon our arrival, we were handed shovels to dig up pits around our tents to keep the snakes away.