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Shubhangi Kotwal



Shubhangi Kotwal


College NSS Camp

College NSS Camp

9 mins

It was a college camp during Diwali vacations from NSS.

We were having three options i.e. NCC, ACC and NSS from that we had to chose one. This was only during the first year of college. I had chosen the NSS (National Service Scheme) actually with the intension that we will get "Long distance" certificate for staying far away from the college campus and NSS faculty.

So that we don't have to attend any sessions.

But we came to know that we will have to attend one camp of 10 days that is compulsory, else our first-year results will be held back.

So me and a few other friends i.e. Harshala, Naina, Anita, Madhuri (she was from Arts faculty but we became a group at camp) we decided to attend winter camp. It was at the remote tribal place, a village called "Dhanpari" in "Chhota Udaipur" district of Gujarat. There were other first-year students also from other faculties like Arts and Home Science with our commerce faculty students and we had two Mentors with us from NSS faculty, with whom our journey started by narrow-gauge train. So much fun, two compartments were occupied by us. The train used to stop at the smallest station, and not a fast speed train.

We played "Antakshari" and other games for passing time. I think the same day evening we reached our destination. We were given a place to stay by "Sarpanch" of that village in his house only. There were two rooms, so one was for girls and another room we made our kitchen. And front Area was a huge open lobby kind of place with shelter on top And some more open space and a gate to close that place in the night to feel safe. Because the surrounding area was all farms and some individual houses with distances, not very close to each other.

It was winter season and that too in a village kind of place so cool !!!! , unbearable, for us because we never experience such type of cold winter in the city. But when you are in a group and with friends you feel that warmth. And when in college we are young and enthusiastic so nothing seems difficult. Some students faced a problem of homesickness during initial days as we had no connectivity with our family members, only sending/receiving postcard was possible. and we were teenagers so it was obvious. Though for me it was not very difficult as I had been with groups when I was in 7th standard and one more time with scout camp in 9th standard, so I was used to it.

The camp was not just for fun obviously we were sent with some job to do there, to dig a canal for water supply.

Our schedule there was quite rigorous and our group instructors from NSS were very strict about the timings. In the morning between 5:00 to 5:30 or so they used to give us wake up call by saying "Suprabhat" or "Shubhprabhat" And within10 minutes we should be there at the outer gallery for our morning prayers and after that, the schedule was decided. 5-6 students will stay back to do their job in the kitchen. After morning tea rest of the students will leave for work, which was merely 15-20 minutes away from the place we were living. It was literally a labourers job so had to carry with us, tools like shovel, hoe, pickaxe and iron tasla.

Mostly boys and maybe some girls were doing digging as it requires physical strength and others had to throw the dug mud/soil on a plane surface. In between, kitchen duty students used to bring breakfast for us.

After doing the job for 5-6 hrs. we used to come back with heavy footwear. Now heavy ???? is because while going in the morning mud n grass was all full of morning dew and our footwears used to get heavy with wet soil on road.

Then it was time for getting clean so there was a river nearby so girls or should I say all "princess" used to take bath in clean flowing river water....such an amazing experience, that is only possible in such villages. Unlimited water and open huge place. There were huge black rocks on the bank of the river on both sides. So a natural changing place was created. Only alternatively we had to keep a watch if somebody from the village , or boys from our camp who have gone to the nearest bigger village to bring Aata, vegetables and other items required in the kitchen if coming back, as the road was passing from there. We used to wash clothes and dry that on rocks if time permits. Because boys had to go after we come back.

Then finish our lunch, and everyone was supposed to clean their own dish, glass and bowl. After that, we were free for few hours. So used to take rest. And again there used to be evening prayer time and session by our mentors. After that was dinner time. Once our group had kitchen duty and we decided to play a prank on certain mischievous students we had in camp. it was like.......we made few rotis with the stuffing of salt, few with red chilli powder and this secret was known only to group in kitchen .so while serving dinner we purposely served them roti with salt and red chilli powder.....such a fun !!!!! Have you ever tried this ?????

before going to bed mentors made us play different and new games every day like each one has to pick a chit from the bowl and whatever is written that we have to perform. Like sing a song, or do a mimicry, make a sentence from a given word etc. Also the game of passing a thing while sitting in a circle and eliminating and whoever plays till the end is a winner. And many such games .......

Then again one group of 5-6 students had to do patrolling to keep a watch in the night as it was a remote area. So that group will play games with cards and other games by not making much noise, as other students were sleeping. Also patrolling means going out and take a round and see if all is ok in the surrounding area.

We as a group. that I have mentioned in the beginning always used to get accolades as we used to do our job without any excuses or "nakharas" and any work that was assigned to us we were prepared to do. Almost all in the group were very understanding and co-operative so we never had any arguments on anything.

In those 10 days, camp Sir also took us to places in the same district. One day was a visit to Shanti Niketan ashram at Rangpur. It was a very beautiful and peaceful place and very clean too. We were given information about their activities and when and how it was built. We saw the whole ashram and then our lunch arrangements were made by them. Lunch was very rich and delicious.

Next visit was to "kawant" . A district panchayat office was there and also many farmers and small merchants used to gather there to sell their products in the place called "Hatt". Then we stopped for a while for drinking water and tea at a bungalow type of house, maybe some influential person in the village. There we came to know about one interesting thing. That once in a month or a few months, they were having "Mela" there on particular days of months. All elders and youth and children from all villages from surrounding area used to gather at Mela.

young and eligible had the freedom to choose their life partner. And how they used to convey each other is interesting !!!!! If a boy likes a girl he will give jaggery to her same way if a girl like that boy or some other boy she will also give jaggery. So if it is exchanged with each other that means it is "yes" and a marriage proposal is accepted......the only condition was that boy and girl should not be from the same village..,... because they consider village as a big family and girls from the same village are like sisters for boys of that village so they can't marry but their duty is to protect same village girls.

One day Sir/ Mentors took us to a neighbouring village where another NSS CAMP from our university had come and their job was. even more difficult than ours as they were also making canal but on 10000 ft. tall mountain, maybe not up to the top but up to certain distance they used to climb every day for their work and come back to place where they were living. So we also decided to climb and few students said no, few of them couldn't reach up to the top but very few students including me could reach up to the top of the mountain with our mentors and that other group"s mentor. So it felt like an achievement, climbing up to the height of 10000 ft. In your teenage !!!!!

While walking to that village place in the morning while going it was so pleasant and we could see nature and Jungle kind of place. That scenery was just like a picture or a beautiful painting. So many trees and sun rays coming from those trees and creating a beautiful picture on the ground. So we stopped there to take some rest for a few minutes and gathered those beautiful moments with nature. The same night we came back to our village place.

Hope you are enjoying this journey along with me ..... aren't you ?????

Memories are many ... .but to summarise I will say we saw so many places in those 10 days, met tribal people in villages. Talked to them, though very less time and chances we got to interact with local people but got to know about their lifestyle, their work, food, dressing style, their culture, their views and how the marriages are fixed and so many such things.

Also Camp was a learning experience for us. We did all our work independently. Also learnt about respecting each other i.e. girls v/s boys and vice versa. Teamwork, discipline, making a meal, working in the kitchen in the group , also the job of Canal that was given to us, to solve "girl's problems" with each other's help as both our mentors were gents. Co- operation, new games and that sporting spirit all such things that we gathered from camp. Once in a lifetime opportunity, that one should not miss during college life !!!!!.

We came home with the same narrow gauge train with lots of memories that can last for a lifetime !!!!!!!!

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