I almost didn’t go. What a blunder that would have been. I had other plans made to keep myself entertained over the weekend, and they were important…or so I kept telling myself in order to make them seem like a viable excuse for avoiding the camp. It’s not that I didn’t want to go – deep down, I knew it was a good idea, but I didn’t want to have to trade off my other plans. The conflict was eventually resolved thanks to the rather impressive convincing skills of a friend, and a hasty decision to cancel all my other plans was made.
It was a LONG journey, but it made for a fun road trip. I was sleepy and tired and hungry (which is also my mood at any given time of life), but I managed to stay calm and suck it all in. Eventually, I got rid of any sort of irritation threatening to come in the way and ruin my mood and decided to welcome the weekend with arms wide open.
I haven’t been to a lot of camps. The ones I’d been to before, I was around people I was already familiar with, so interacting with them wasn’t too much of a task. Coming to this camp with only three people I knew and being made to interact with everyone else (twenty-eight other youth, to be precise) would have ideally put me off, given my tendency to be asocial, but I figured it wouldn’t be all that bad to give it a try. I was quite surprised to find that they were all rather friendly (AND FUNNY – I laughed SO MUCH through the trip!) and in no time, I became comfortable around them. We had a few group activities, which actually turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected.
For someone who claims to love adventure, I’m quite a lazy person. The fact that I had to wake up at ungodly hours on a weekend was putting off, but I was determined to give it a shot. I was proud of myself for not complaining (not even in my head) about the amount I was made to walk around for sight-seeing and things people usually do at camps.
The place was spectacular – we were set at a height, surrounded by mountains and a valley far below, which made for a stunning view at all times of the day. I’m not much of a nature-lover, in the sense that even while I think nature is wonderful and lovely and all that, I never actually take time out to fully appreciate it. Living in these surroundings for nearly forty-eight hours made me realise how much I underestimated and took for granted the ability that nature has of calming a person – as you sit in awe of the creation that engulfs you and its Creator, you can literally feel all of your petty worries leave your body and are filled with a nonchalant, calm and collected attitude. And I’m not just saying this because this is what I’ve seen happen in movies or read in books; I actually experienced it. Sitting atop a rock at Table Land, I was (quite literally) blown away by the strong breeze as I sat and gazed at the view around me. I was filled with this reassuring sense of being capable of doing anything I felt like, while at the same time wondering how I would ever be able to write how peaceful and content I felt at that moment. Another time I experienced this was while sitting in the balcony of the villa we were living in and gazed at the countless stars in the sky – a pleasure I’m deprived of back at home in the rather polluted city I live in. Everything else took a back seat – my very life seemed so distant and foreign to me then, and all of the things that were bothering me seemed so meaningless. Taking time to appreciate nature and bask in it has this magical ability to provide you with a much-needed escape from your hectic and stressful life.
That being said, it’d be unfair to not mention someone who was so crucial in helping me feel this way. Brinston, a regular camper and lover of all things outdoors (he also happens to be the aforementioned ‘friend with impressive convincing skills’), talked to me about his love for such camps. Some things he said hit me hard even though he put them across in the simplest way possible, mostly because I was baffled by the truth of it. It was then that I realised how much you can actually take away from a camp like that. As for me, I learnt that you not only rediscover yourself and discover new people through it all, but you also discover the old ones in a way you probably never saw them before. So thank you, Brinston. Even though you tried hard to piss me off (and failed), you were an absolutely wonderful companion through it all.
No camp is complete without the campfire, which is such a wonderful blessing when you’re shivering out in the cold and have no other source of comfort and warmth. We set up a campfire on the second night and everyone having bonded with everyone else present by then, we shared stories and laughs over burnt marshmallows. I sat dangerously close to the fire (which was further away than everyone else, honestly) and watched the embers and the sparks going up into the air. I couldn’t roast marshmallows for myself because of my fear of fires, but the people there were kind enough to roast some for me.
To sum up, that two-day camp made me learn:
- The outdoors CAN be a fun place
- Making new friends isn’t all that bad
- Sitting face-to-face with your fears need not necessarily help you overcome them, but at least you’ll learn to get over the anxiety it brings (maybe)
- ‘Sacrificing your weekend’ for a camp is a good idea, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll soon find it wasn’t really a ‘sacrifice’ at all.
- Peace and contentment can indeed be found within yourself, with the help of a little indulgence in the beauty that is nature, if only you let go of petty and irrelevant troubles
- If you believe in yourself enough, you can be whatever you want to be. And convince everyone else of the same. (in my case, strawberry.)
Forty-eight hours flew by, but I enjoyed every moment of it. I returned home feeling content, with absolutely no regrets whatsoever. And yes, I’d ‘sacrifice’ my weekend again in a heartbeat.
[Not all of the photos are mine. Credits go to Brinston and Clarisse. Thanks, guys!]