It’s been a little over a year since I went for camp. And I know that a lot of my friends just got back from camps this summer and wonderful, newly-made memories are still fresh in their minds and they couldn’t care less about T1 2015 anymore, not when all they want right now is to rewind their lives by a couple of weeks and relive it all. Rewind, relive, rewind, relive. Like I’d love to, by a year. Maybe I’m a little jealous because I couldn’t go this year. Maybe I’m a little apprehensive about finally going to school again later this week, super excited to meet my friends after so long, only to find them fully engaged in exclusive conversations about camp, laughing at recollections and inside jokes I’ll never be a part of and mourning exaggeratedly because it’s all over. Heck, I’d have done the same, had I gone too. Because I love, loved camp and in fact..
I can still close my eyes and visualize camp.
Pretend like I’m actually reluctantly waking up and untangling myself from my sleeping bag, unzipping our tent to a cold foggy morning, shuffling to the washroom to freshen up and grunting hello to fellow campers on the way, always skipping morning tea for 10 extra minutes of sleep, shamefully realizing that some kids were up since 5 am practicing yoga with Krishna sir, yawning during the Elastic Limbs and trying in vain to match the enthusiasm of the instructors, having breakfast and creating piles of watermelon peel, awwwing at the lamb that regularly fed on the leaves of trees near the campus boundary, getting ready for the activities planned for the day.
I can shut my eyes and feel the stony steps of the Bomb shelter, the freezing water of the Tons river splashing against my butt as we paddled our raft ahead, the damp grass and the pine flies it sheltered, the horror of entering the Splash Pool with a bunch of wild kids, the bruises from playing too much Sling Ting, the burns and stings from the Bichchhubuti plants, the rough sponges we used to clean our plates at meals, the sudden twist in my stomach as I dropped backwards from the stone pillar at the entrance – the Trust Fall, the warm rotis and the aroma of the incredible food we were treated to every day (we could eat that smell), the cold burn of the Volini spray in the doctor’s tent every time I pulled a muscle, the smooth pebbles I’d slip on and the sand in between my toes and in my floaters from digging my feet into the ground to get some grip while dragging the heavy raft from the river bank to the truck.
I can hear Rajan sir clapping as I successfully tied different kinds of knots, Krishna asking and telling us the most sensible things in his calm, deep voice, I can hear their strong laughs and see their smiles, the sort that twist your own mouth the second you witness them. I remember ‘Niiice!’ being echoed from every corner of the campus and I remember trying so hard to get Dharmu out of that habit by teaching him new words. I remember practicing Hindi with the instructors! The rules: They speak in English and I in Hindi, and if either of us don’t know a word, we learn. In my head, I can, sometimes, hear the roar of the Tons river and the voice of sweet little Tanu as she excitedly solved Math sums and translated English words I gave her for the Each One Teach One program. I remember fighting with another camper to get to teach her :’).
Really, I could go on like this forever because camp meant much more to me than you can imagine and it would still never be enough to recreate even 2% of everything I felt. One of my favourite camp activities was called Pool Jump- de facto jumping off a cliff into a pool. Along with the instructor, you count: 3, 2, 1, Go. You know the feeling you get at Go? The one just before jumping? That thrill? It’s the best thing I’ve ever felt, but I can’t really describe it. Camp itself was like that. Positively indescribable.