Published: 17th October 2017
Camping in the greens and removing the greys, this camp takes kids closer to nature. No filters attached
Geethu Mohandas' camp not only gives kids an in-depth understanding of nature and harmful effects of mankind on it but also teaches them to balance sustainability and creates awareness
Helping tribals in hilly regions, clearing plastic off in an anti-pollution campaign and filled with enthusiastic kids with equally green hearts is all part of the 'Let's Go For a Camp' initiative started by Ernakulam native and Bangalore-based engineer Geethu Mohandas. The camp started in 2015 imparts in kids a sensitivity and knowledge of our environment and ecology with a new theme/ focus for every camp.
Raised amid and exposed to the beauty of greens through numerous camps in her childhood, Geethu's love and need to change stagnant mindsets through the grassroots began thus. "This instilled a sense of love and responsibility towards nature when I was young. I grew up in such an environment at Muppathadam, my hometown. The urge to recreate such camps for children grew stronger when I secured a job in Bangalore," says Geethu, who organised the first trip to Kakkadampoyil in Malappuram.
Soon, she started receiving calls from like-minded professionals who wanted to organise such events with her. "Now, after two years, the initiative is led by six of us, including Aadish, a software engineer from Bangalore, Sakeerth, an electronics engineer from Kannur, Sudhina, a children's magazine journalist from Gudalur, Chithira, a lawyer from Ernakulam and Najma, a law professor from Chennai. So far, we have conducted over 18 camps across the State," she said.
Some of the locations include Chandrakantham, Madayipara in Kannur, Kodachari, Pampadum Shola National Park, and Paithalmala among others.
According to the organisers, each camp has a purpose that is sketched at the initial stage. "For example, at Kodachadri, one issue that perceptibly disturbed our conscience was the increasing use of plastic in nature. Our two-day camp focused on the plastic-free campaign, under the slogan, 'Green Kodachadri Clean Kodachadri'. By the end of the day, the campers collected over 50 kgs of plastic waste, all through the trail. The waste was handed over to local self-governing authorities for disposal," she said.
The concept of an ongoing project, Grassland Restoration, in a 39-hectare area within Pampadum Shola National Park, was a new window posing into nature. Wattle trees and the unchecked growth of eucalyptus, which is a threat to the ecology due to its capacity to dehydrate posed a great threat to the flora and the fauna. It even affected the water resources in nearby villages. To reverse the damages, the Forest Department has launched a plan to restore the grasslands. For this, they had to clear the weeds, wild shrubs and plants over the hilly terrain. They sought help from the public and several NGOs.
"When we learnt about this initiative, we decided to take our participants to the spot. Grass sprouts were planted during the monsoon. We were able to learn more about the grasslands and how they are the key life source for sustainable living and ecological balance," added Geethu.
Along the way, the group also extended their help to the kids of the Bodhi library in the tribal village under the Chinnar wildlife area. Most of the camps involve women and children as the organisers believe they contribute a major chunk to saving the environment. "Most of the money for the camps come from our own pockets. We don't see this as a profit-making initiative but a contribution from our side. We take minimal fees from our participants," Geethu added.
Trip to Nepal
The campers are planning a trip to Nepal from December 16-21. "We decided to choose Nepal because we realised that our campers can learn a lot from the country. Their system of conservation is much different from what is practised in our State. It will also help the campers learn the difference between different habitats like the Western Ghats and the Himalayas," she said.