ISL Camp

Had the best time with all of them

ISL or leadership camp is the best thing of the entire year! I have been waiting, dreaming, and manifesting our grade going to ISL and that is because of the pandemic that did not let us go to ISL in grades 8 and 9. It has been 3 years since I was going to ISL and I had a great amount of fun. Each day in ISL felt like an episode of the show 24 where every hour of the day there is something fun and interesting happening. Here is how ISL went for me:

Day 1: 20th October 2022, 3:00 AM. My excitement was so high that I woke up at the first sound of the alarm ringing. I got ready in a matter of 15 minutes. The bags were all packed and my 20 items-long checklists had been ticked. My parents woke up around 3:30-3:45 AM. They understood my excitement and woke up. The three of us left for the airport after I bid goodbye to my dog who was curious about why was I awake and ready to go outside when it was nearing 4 AM in the morning. My parents, especially my mother told me that it is okay to be hyped about this but to contain my excitement and have no expectations about what will happen in the next 5 days will help me in enjoying the camp. I reached the airport and rendezvoused around the people in my grade and the 4 amazing and really cool teachers that were accompanying us. For the time being that we were gathering around for all the students to come, we (my friends and I) killed time by cracking jokes, and the parents dropping their wards off were chatting amongst each other. Once we went inside the airport and dropped off our luggage and did the usual things one would do at the airport if one wants to make it to the plane. We boarded the flight a couple of hours later. It was an early morning flight and as the plane slowly went up in the air I could see the pink sky slowly showing the sunrise. I could not sleep the whole day and I was extremely energetic. I was listening to my favorite playlist that I listen to when I am traveling, Once we landed, I had breakfast, and then we had to travel for around 5 hours by bus while we were dancing to music. The ISL bus soon became a party bus. After 2 and a half or 3 hours we were all tired from the dancing and I just looked outside the window as we were driving by the beautiful countryside scenery of Karnataka. While looking at that view I was playing Take Me Home, Country Roads on a loop as we were driving by the beautiful roads of the countryside in Karnataka. We finally arrived at the Indus School of Leadership in Kanakpura, Karnataka! 64 of us had been divided into different groups, being debriefed about the Dos and Don’ts and then picking our roommates. I was having a tiring day so far, I had drained myself out and started having a splitting headache. I had to sleep as I woke up at 3 AM. I slept peacefully and woke up the next morning.

My entourage

Day 2: 21st November 2022, 6:00 AM. I woke up with my head feeling much better. While showering I have the habit of singing in the shower. The people living in my dorm were freaked out by my singing and I had to tell them that I am a bathroom singer and it is a habit. After getting ready and having breakfast our group team orange had to do something called the leadership reaction course or LRC. Which was basically crawling on a bunch of rubber-like ropes and then being able to stand on this small concrete curb in front of which was a wooden wall that we had to climb. It clearly felt like some sort of stealthy military operation that required some intense rope crawling and wall climbing. I had to help my whole team in crossing the ropes and climbing the wall so it felt like Mission Impossible. After the team crossed the ropes and climbed, jumped over the wall, we watched a movie called ‘The Call Of The Wild’ which was a cute and adorable dog movie, after watching it we were supposed to reflect on the leadership lessons that are inculcated in that movie. Later on in the evening, we had an activity called the discovery course. Which turned out to be the real Mission Impossible for me. I had a major phobia of heights. Back in grade 7, I was not able to finish level 1. I was not wanting to quit, my instinct told me to just face my fear. The first level of the discovery course was not that hard, but eventually, it got harder and harder. At every level of the discovery course at least once my fear was crippling on my nerves and gave me goosebumps. I was shaking but my mind kept telling me to face my fears. ‘Don’t Think. Just Do Chinmay!’ was all my mind was saying. On level 3 of the discovery course, there were two ways to the final level: the hard path and the easy one. I went with the one that was in front of me which was of the monkey loops. Before I went, I let my friend go who was also scared of heights. I told him ‘You go before me, I will be right behind you as your winger in case you feel scared.’ How did I somehow not manage to go before him when I was ahead of him? How was I so calm during the whole discovery course? Was the discovery course testing me? Finally, I made it to the zipline after that massive challenging obstacle. I ziplined shouting ‘I feel the need! The need for speed!’ After I completed that course I asked myself ‘If I could face my phobia of heights then I can also overcome my fear of exams, of failing by not thinking but doing.’ No doubt it was called the discovery course as I discovered a revelation about myself. That felt so great! I slept happily with the thought planted as a seedling in my mind about me having the ability to face any challenges. I slept early as we had a long trek starting at 7:00 AM in the morning.

Had fun facing my fears

Day 3: 22nd November, 7:00 AM. We had been debriefed about our 16 kilometers long trek. Two teams, team orange, and yellow were allotted a compass, two bags, and two maps each. Team blue and green did the trek on 21st November early in the morning and came back at 3 PM. Our team, orange. Received a headstart and found point 1 in a matter of a few minutes. Then we took this long and fun trek towards a hill crossing by farmlands where we found P2 right on the hilltop where we had breakfast which was a bun slapped in jam and a box of juice. After climbing P2 on a hilltop we had to crouch down and descend from P2 to find P3 which required us to climb down a route which was on a slope inside a jungle. Afterward, we found P3, then P4 which was in a village, after that P5 which was on some dead end, then P6, P7, and P8 were not that much of a challenge and the entire trek so far was going really well in the midst of nature filled with lush, green vegetation, giant bulky rocks, and a clear blue sky. When we found P8, I noticed that the entire location reminded me of the Sanhok from the video game BGMI. It was an exact replica of that biome in BGMI. We moved on to P9 when we realized that one of our teammates forgot our bags. I remembered the route and exactly where the bag had been seen the last time. It was at P2. We went back towards P3 with the same route we came through. I remembered every single step we took. We did not require a map or at least I didn’t because I was confident about my memory. I remembered every single way we came from as if there were these exact photos just flashing in front of my eyes making me remember where we came from, who was in front of me, behind me and what were people saying and what was the next route we took before and after that. People were taking time to climb up and look for a way. I was so excited to follow on to my hunch to see if my memory is so accurate or not. Surprisingly we reached this one point that we came across in grade 7 ISL. We then walked up to the point where we ate our breakfast. Most of us were tired. But I was restless, excited, and inquisitive to confirm if my memory was actually strong or was it just a hallucination or more or less of a brag that I used to make to people of having a photographic memory. I ran up to the point where we lost our bag which was on a steep vantage point. The two friends accompanying me did not notice any bag around but my deductive eye noticed it hiding behind a rock. I picked up that bag and ran down that steep slope in excitement. It felt like an Indiana Jones movie. Yes, it is certain that the yellow team beat us. But we trekked for 26 kilometers and finished it in about 6-7 hours or so. We basically did two trips in 7 hours! We failed in beating the record time, we had to find the bag for which we walked so much. Somehow I am glad that yellow beat us because this experience was more fun than winning and that is what mattered to me at the end of the day. I may or may not have a photographic memory but I certainly do have a strong memory. From remembering people’s preferred Starbucks orders to birthdays, to what happened on a certain date, to remembering hotel room numbers since I was 5, to also remembering where a lost bag had been found, as well as remembering the route we came through for that bag. Sure, I was proud of myself. I was grateful for this experience which reminded me of one of my major strengths but I was grateful for having this gift and promised myself to not be overconfident about my memory. Besides the memory part. I was glad that we had to do the entire trek again because that was one beautiful and amazing experience that I will always cherish. I got more time to spend with nature. We had some other activities to do such as slithering. Which was basically coming down this one rope as we see in movies like Die Hard. Then we had survival cooking which was also fun. I took a nap and I was already so tired. I called up my sister who said that the house is empty without me, my noise, my presence, and my antics. That is what I wanted to hear but my sister actually said that ‘I feel bored because the house feels empty without me.’ Then we had a long conversation about cracking jokes and whatnot. I was so tired. I shut my eyes and woke up the next morning.

We found the treasure. Whoopee!

Day 4: 23rd November 6:00 AM. 21 hours for ISL to end, I have 21 hours to live here and use the last 21 hours to my best. After getting ready, singing in the shower. I went outside with my friend and played a game of catch using a tennis ball. I enjoyed every moment of catching the ball left-right-and-center. Then we had breakfast and after breakfast, we had something called the disposition course. It looked and felt like a military obstacle course with so many obstacles. First, we had to climb this 7-8 feet long wall. Then, we had to build this raft and only one person could move the raft I enthusiastically volunteered to fall into the water and move the raft. I pushed the raft while getting drenched in the water and once the raft crossed, I was sliding down and couldn’t get up but eventually did for the 7th time managing a way to climb up. After that, we had to crawl on this ladder net which was a lot of fun. Later on, we had to walk on a single piece of a wooden log. Finally, to complete the disposition course we had to crawl through a bunch of tires which made me feel like a snail. I was drenched in water and dirtied in the sand. After a good shower, we had to build a bridge using ice cream sticks, which was in all honesty boring for me. I understand how others were tired but I was so energetic enough to do more physical activities. After that, there was something called camp fun. It sounded like a fifth-grader thing but it was actually all of us dancing to songs which was a lot of fun. I do not know how to dance but I just know that it is just a bit of moving and jumping around that’s all. We danced in the midst of rain that had started showering. We had to go back which ruined about half an hour of the one hour meant to be planned for us but it was still a great amount of fun. We had dinner, I took a warm shower, packed my things up, and slept at 10:30 AM.

Drenching myself in the water just for fun!

Day 5: 24th November, 3:00 AM. I woke up from my bed and woke my other roommates up. I was ready the night before with my packing. I did not want to waste any time getting ready either. It was so chilly in the morning and it was raining since last night’s camp fun. Before leaving for the bus, I thanked the instructors for hosting us and told them that I had a lot of fun, and then we left for the bus. All of us dumped our luggage inside the bus and everyone on the bus dozed off. After about two hours or so, my eyes opened. I was reminiscing the memories of the past 5 days and smiling at how amazing these 5 days went through. Once we reached the airport we had some time to kill off till the time the crowd at the entrance gate of the airport was cleared. We spent some time having fun and once we checked in, I had my breakfast. I could clearly not leave Bangalore without having dosa and filter coffee. Once I boarded I started reading a book on the flight and once we landed I did not realize that we had landed at the Pune airport as I was so focused on reading and entertaining myself as my earphones ran out of charge. I looked outside the window and I was grateful that I could go to ISL after 3 years it was a memorable learning experience. Like every leadership camp, this was the best one ever. As we landed, I grabbed my bags, thanked my teachers for accompanying us, and sat inside my sister’s car. After I reached home, I changed into my clothes, had lunch, and then crashed out on the bed taking a nap for a couple of hours. Once I woke up, I asked myself ‘Was it all real? Or was it just a dream?’

Published by Chinmay Patgaonkar

The world is made of stories as well as atoms

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