YOUNG WORLD

The Himalayas beckon

SUNANDA KHANNA

A sight so beautiful...

A sight so beautiful...  

KOCHI

For those with a passion for the outdoors, nothing can match the exhilarating feeling of trekking in the Himalayas. It is also true that the rush of adrenaline doesn't diminish after scaling one peak. Those who have done it once are tempted to do it just one more time. Parents and teachers are realising that all education cannot be classroom based or even limited to the sports field. Going on an excursion provides a well-rounded foundation to the students. This is especially true in mountaineering because it is here that they learn to appreciate and respect the forces of nature. In fact, they learn survival; understanding weather conditions and keeping clear of wildlife. As they navigate with the use of a map, help out a friend, give first aid to an injured classmate or carry his rucksack for him even as his own back rebels, children identify new qualities in themselves that were hitherto unknown.

Recently, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan sent a team of 125 students and nine teachers to Himachal Pradesh, to gain trekking experience. Of these, 34, in the age groups of 12 and 16 years were from Kendriya Vidyalaya. Ernakulam. Says Samuel Kutty, a teacher from the school who accompanied the group, "The adventurous journey helped us to gain first hand knowledge about the state and its culture as we got an opportunity to interact with the local people." The team walked an average of 13 kilometres everyday for 12 days through narrow mountainous tracks. Living in a tent and occasionally cooking their own food was a novel experience for them. The children had some exciting moments when they tried their hand at rafting and canoeing.

The group was provided training for six days by the Department of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, near Simla. The department provided the students with windcheaters, sleeping bags and rucksacks besides training them in rope climbing and river crossing. For most of the children it was their first time in the Himalayas. Yet, when they started climbing, they were able to scale a peak at 13,000 feet. "It was a great experience because they did a lot of work which is done for them when they are at home. Here they interacted with each other, made good friends and even shared thoughts with villagers and locals. This exposure helps our children to develop a patriotic feeling," adds Kutty.