Ankit just came back from a three day camping trip. He was happy - genuinely happy and full of smiles. He had had a wonderful time at a wildlife photography camp for kids arranged by ToeHold. I got to hear all about it from him and Phillip Ross who lead the trip. They trekked to a watering hole looking for wildlife, took photos and learnt how to take photos, they had a bonfire and played games, they fished and setup a night camera trap for animals – above all they laughed and had lots of fun.
I write about this as this was the first camping trip – outside school – that I had sent him on and I am so pleased with it that there are going to be many more. I personally know of three organizations in Bangalore that organize such events for kids – ToeHold, BMC and Gerry Marten. I am sure there are more but these three have surpassed my expectations and chased away any apprehension I had about sending my child to an overnight camp. All these organizations have people that genuinely love what they are doing and hold kids camps not (just) for money but to really educate and initiate kids to wildlife and environment conservation.
From Ankit's perspective – he learnt so much while having fun. He is wildly interested in taking photos and knows all about exposure and stabilizers (and things of that nature). He made friends and loved the group and their lead. He was awarded best camper for his wit and attitude - he participated in all events with enthusiasm and above all had the time of his life.
From a mom's perspective - one of the things I really liked about the Toehold camp were the daily evening calls from Phillip with the day's happenings. It made me feel connected and secure. They did a very good job with very timely pick up and drop off and seemed to have a very co-ordinated act together. The other thing that I really loved with the way Ankit said goodbye. There were lots of "keep in touch" and a really warm secret handshake with Phillip (whom Ankit he called the best camp instructor ever)
On the ride back after picking him up, I was smiling, happy that he loved something that I love so much.
ToeHold – http://www.toehold.in/kids/
Gerry Marten – Contact firstname.lastname@example.org – they have had kid's camps all April and have a few in May.