How trekking changes lives of children

 

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Vidhi Shah, 15-year-old (Chadar)
Enjoying all kind of weathers,
Birds flying with black feathers,
Oh! What a scene,
I was in full bliss,
Happy that I had nothing to miss!

This is how Vidhi ended her poem inspired by her trek to Chadar (Leh) in February 2014. The trek had touched the chords of this teenager’s heart. In the poem Vidhi wrote about Chadar, the people, a lost iPhone, the tents and oh-so-many things and experiences that made her trek memorable. She returned refreshed, craving to go back on yet another trek.

Shazid Pasha, 2nd standard

Shazid was an aggressive kid in the class. One day he went on a trek to a hill near Ramnagaram. There he realized how we (humans) pollute our environment and how it’s our duty to clean it up too. It was a revelation for this kid. He promptly got busy cleaning up the trail. And he did it with full gusto. Finally, Shazid had found a way to spend his energy constructively. After coming back from the trek Shazid led his group of friends to clean the school premises, and even areas outside the premises! The teachers were, least to be said, impressed.

Amal Shukla, 9-years-old (Kedarkantha)

This little boy was introduced to trekking very early in life. His father, Andy Shukla opines that trekking has brought Amal closer to nature. It’s trekking that has made Amal responsible, sociable and a child who values resources and nature. “We did imbibe values in him since childhood, but he got a chance to practice them on treks.”

Jigar Shah, 15-years-old (Mukteshwar)

When Trek leader Manish Pasad met Jigar’s parents for the first time, they were fretting about their son’s lack of communication with them. “He doesn’t talk to us,” the parents had confided in Manish. After spending days trekking to Mukteshwar, bonding with other kids, helping out and sharing responsibilities, Jigar turned a new leaf. “He doesn’t stop talking now!” the parents exclaimed to Manish few days after Jigar returned from the trek.

So what’s doing the trick here? A lot of things. On treks, children get a chance to release their excess energy constructively. In the absence of a suitable let-out this energy remains locked in children and gets released in the form of negative emotions. And this is an era when children are 15 per cent less fit than their parents were at the same age. Nowadays children’s worlds are cramped with xBoxes, PS 3s and mobile phones that lure the kids on to the couch and glue them to it. So the earlier children step out, the better. Read Arjun Majumdar’s blog on when to start kids on trekking.

Vidhi loves to move away from chaotic and polluted cities. She now craves for the quiet surroundings of camping grounds. “She steers clear off treks that involves too many people or is commercialized. She wants it to be quiet and peaceful,” Shefali Shah, Vidhi’s mother commented.

But lapping in the serenity of mountains is just one of the advantages for the innocent minds. Another big reason – taking up responsibilities. “Children are made to help co-trekkers with handy jobs. Children come out of their shells when they realize the beauty of co-existence. That’s how they bond,” said trek leader Manish Pasad.

There’s more. Resources are limited on treks, so you can’t take things for granted. Now that’s a revelation for city kids who have grown so used to having all luxuries within easy reach. Treks, in a way, help to curb the wastefulness that creeps into the lives of children. And then of course, there’s the most important lesson about keeping the environment clean and pollution-free. Children read a lot about it in textbooks. But it’s the hands-on experience children receive on treks that ingrains the love and responsibility towards the Earth in their impressionable minds. You can read here about the benefits children gain from trekking. 

Today, Shefali Shah proudly says that her daughter is confident and doesn’t mind stepping up, talking and helping people she doesn’t really know. The teachers of Sujaya school, Bengaluru are busy readying more kids for treks to help little ones settle and channel all their restless energies. Andy Shukla is proud that his son has grown close to nature and is sensitive towards the ecosystem. And Jigar, well, his parents are just thanking the twinkling stars that shined upon the lad’s trek and made him open up.

So how did trekking change the life of your child?

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Latika Payak

Latika Payak

Latika Payak has worked as a journalist with Femina, New Woman, BollywoodLife.com and wrote articles for the weekly editions of Times Of India Crest before growing allergic to full-time jobs. So she broke free from the glass-walled buildings and became the official story-teller of the trekking world.

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