Published: 06th February 2020
Head to Kerala's Camp Cardamom this summer and experience the great outdoors with a dash of Indian culture
Started for children the ages of seven and 17, this camp helps children get closer to nature and learn one or two art forms along the way
Children from the cities read about the great countryside, but do they ever get to see it? But the question here is not just about seeing it. It is about soaking in it, learning life lessons and in the bargain, learning about the culture which is intertwined with ecology. And that's the mission with which Camp Cardamom started its operations last year.
Located in the Marayoor Valley of Kerala is a 100 acre-campus, complete with an organic farm, dormitories, private rooms and a swimming pool. This is where the children who sign up for the camp stay. And what they do is learn kalaripayattu (Indian martial art), arts, Ayurveda, yoga and a lot of trekking in the great outdoors. This time, the camp will be held from May 3 to June 14, 2020 and one can sign up for a week, or more.
This time, for their second edition, what's different is that several local artists are being asked to teach students, so the participants will be learning from the best, informs Outdoor Director Josh Harkinson. So imagine learning pottery and basket-weaving from those who are the custodians of the art form. And when it comes to trekking, Harkinson says that visits to more high-range places, like the ones near Munnar, are on the agenda. While Camp Cardamom might be stepping up their game this time, their ethos remains consistent. "This is a programme that combines both culture and nature. And when we say nature, we don't just mean for adventure. We cultivate a real sense of wonder for nature through all that we do," he says.
Safe and secure
Safety, naturally, emerges as one of the major concerns for any parent who wants their child to experience this. They would be happy to note that their Security Advisor is a former military officer with more than a decade of experience in counter-insurgency, Girish Gopinath. Additionally, their staff receives training on first aid, CPR and a range of other medical protocols. Ask Harkinson about what he thought kids would be apprehensive about and he says he wouldn't know if the participants would adapt to the no cell phone policy (except for daily scheduled calls with parents). "But I was deeply impressed with them all. In fact, last year, one of the participants walked up to me to tell me that this camp was the best experience they have ever had," he says.
While a partnership is already in place with Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, in association with whom, they conduct discussions on religion, culture and Indian history, in the future, they expect more students from abroad to sign up for this programme. "Because this immersive experience is for anyone who wants to appreciate India's beautiful nature and culture," says Harkinson.