Under a creative shelter

Enthusiastic participation.  

SUMMER HOLIDAYS are here, and though it's virtually raining heat in the city, a number of students gear for the annual month-long summer camp, organised jointly by the Government and the Gandhi Museum.

Drop into the Gandhi Museum campus over the next month, and you will see different classes on arts, crafts and languages going on simultaneously on any open space available.

From tiny tots to teenagers, the camp is the place to be for those willing to spend free time — a valuable commodity these days — productively. The camp also attempts to cater to diverse interests, and for students interested in acquiring unique skills. So `silambam' and `varma kalai' are taught to the interested students, as also painting, photography and yoga.

The camp, into its 19th successful year, is a case in point to prove that students have enormous creative potential, and are willing to go that extra mile to learn something new.

And an impressive array of courses is offered for the adventurous students: Painting, Bharatanatyam, singing, violin, flute, veena, mridangam, chaturangam, karate, silambam, varma kalai, photography, toy-making, artificial flower-making, fabric and glass painting, nib painting, metal cutting, tailoring, yoga, spoken English and Hindi and ham radio.

"Summer camps like these are a welcome break for the children from back-breaking schoolwork," says one parent, while waiting for his child to finish his first silambam class. Since the classes are held simultaneously, students can opt for only one course from a menu of 21 offered under one roof. With a registration fee of Rs.50, the course, taught by local schoolteachers and experts, is worth every paise.

Even a few years ago, children used to enrol in courses that their parents wanted them to learn.

Today, children are more individualistic and assertive: they insist on learning a specific course and sometimes even after they are enrolled in one course, they change their mind and switch to the one for which they develop a liking, says the museum co-ordinator, P. Ravichandran.

A number of women also participate regularly in the camp. They generally enrol their children and find it a good idea to stay back and enrol in a class of their choice, so that they don't have to return to pick up their wards.

Over 350 students enrolled on the first day of the camp on Wednesday, and going by the overwhelmingly response in the last few years, another 1,000 students are expected to join in the next few days.

By Preethi Chandrasekar

Photo: S. James