Living in harmony with nature and learning life skills went hand in hand for the eight patrol groups who stormed into the Bharat Scouts and Guides headquarters in Kamarajar Salai last week. Four days of camping, master chef dreams and the promise of an adrenalin rush was bait enough for the adventurous samurais and participants of the State-level scout challenge to take up the mission. Flipping through the pages of their diary, the young mascots took us down the road less travelled and showed us glimpses of what it takes to make the cut.
Home, sweet home
Stepping into the Kanyakumari patrollers’ station invites a loud welcome cheer. The bubbly team comprising Class 6 students confide that they were lucky to get a ‘room with a view’. The budding engineers had to pitch an outdoor tent, a towering flag mast and other ‘gadgetry’, including check posts, shoe racks, book stands and hunter’s fire using tree branches and strings. It a test of their knack for surviving in the wild. “We trained for one month to learn all the skills,” grins Madesh, student of Carmel School, Nagercoil, who led the group and guided them on how to put up tents from scratch in less than 20 minutes.
A ‘knotty’ affair
If all else fails, a knot is the solution. Puzzled? During the four-day camp, the scouts had to prove their mettle at stringing together diverse types of basic knots, including the Clove hitch Reef Knot, the Sheet Bend, the Bowline and the Fisherman Knot, that have to be used to craft their intricate miniature projects — bridges, hammocks, and ladders.
Bhadrinarayanan of Padma Sarangapani School, West Chennai who can reel off the mind-boggling names in a jiffy, felt practice made them perfect. “It looks basic, but every knot is complicated,” he says.
As part of their day to day activities, the scouts cooked up a storm in the camp on day three that witnessed them churning out delicious upmas and kesaris, tangy fruit salads and masala tea. Not only did the young chefs have to get the ingredients right, but also make a neat presentation for their guests. Of course, the ‘gourmet treat’ was a hit among the students, claim the master chefs from St Lucy’s Matriculation school, Salem.
Gazing at the stars and figuring out directions is child’s play for adrenalin-junkies. Pointing to illustrations of Orion and the Ursa Major, M Sundarraj, a Class 7 student explains how every constellation can be used to navigate through unfamiliar terrains with ease. And with his absorbing talk, he throws light on another golden scout rule, being prepared for all the major challenges life throws at you.
First aid tips
What will you do if a fire breaks out and how will you tackle insect bites? These were some of the questions that were put to them in a written exam, to test their ability to think on their toes and come up with answers for administering first aid to their peers.
Party on the beach
While making new friendships and reliving their lively activity session was the highlight of the overnight camp, the final day trip to the Marina Beach served well to impart the most valuable life-lesson for the gung-ho youngsters: “Don’t forget to have fun”.