a unique summer camp

When my children were young, summer holidays always spelt disaster as one would be plagues with a leit motiv of I'm getting bored or What do I do now. One would try and plan things but they never quite met the standards of demanding kids. Those were the days before Internet or even video games. One just had the good old VCR and films borrowed at the local library as life saviours.

Today things have changed. Parents have more money and new summer options are being marketed. I recently saw an ad for summer holidays for children within India and in faraway lands were the tag could be as high as 1 lac of rupees, notwithstanding the plethora of summer camps in the city. Even in the area we work in, many of the private teaching shops offer courses in painting, dancing and more of the same making them an option for harried parents.

For those who cannot afford it, it is the street that plays the role of a summer camp, where children play in spite of the heat and spend time as best they can. This is one of the reasons project why never closes but then we can only reach that many kids.

One kid decided to create her own summer camp. What began spontaneously has now become a serious affair. Every morning Kiran is ready at 8.30 and comes to us to project why. Gone are the days when she tagged along and followed us with the proverbial bored expression. She now goes straight into the special section and is there to welcome the kids as they come. Then after morning exercises that she still leads it is time for serious work as per the timetable. Kiran all of six years and some months settles with her little group - group A - and asks for the day's copy books. She is soon busy giving out work and checking it as it is completed. She knows the ability of each child and doles out the work accordingly: If Champa one of our slowest learners gets simple letters written large, Pooja has now graduated to three letters word, and Anurag is still learning to write his name though she shared proudly with we today that he can write Anu and now she plans to attack Rag.

I watched her today as she sat on a chair - a concession to her size - and interacted with her class that ranges from age 8 to age 30 and thought to myself how perfectly tuned everyone seemed to be. Here was a group that had nothing in common - neither age, nor caste, nor creed - ; each one had a disability that branded them an oddity in the wider world yet under the strict yet loving care of a little six year old they sat and learnt in total harmony.

There were so many lessons to be learnt if one cared to look wth one's heart.

Chapeau bas to this young child who had created her very own unique summer camp.