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Good Old Days At Summer Camp

School’s out for the summer, and for many kids in Goa, this means one thing – summer camp! To keep children productively occupied through the long vacation months, summer camps play a major role as a place to pick up new skills, make new friends and gain life-long memories.

For many youngsters in their late teens and early twenties, time spent at summer camps form a special part of their memories of summers past. From what they learned at these camps, to those moments that have stuck with them through the years, the impression left by their time at camp is a lasting one.

As soon as exams wrapped up and the hot summer months set in, these youngsters were enrolled in summer camp, every summer for several years, from childhood to their early-teens. For most, as Mark Ursula de Sousa, now 21, puts it, their reason to go was that “we had nothing better to do with our time, anyway!”

Some like Declan Da Silva Pereira, 22, had their parents play the main role in getting them to go. Others went of their own volition, in the hope of chasing away that summer boredom. “When I was in Std. 6, I got to know of this six-day camp happening at Saligao that was organised by the youth, where we would get to do different things every day,” says Nadia Fernandes, 22. Alexandra Menezes, also 22, adds, “I really liked going to the summer camp at the Don Bosco Oratory, rather than sitting at home all day long; it was something interesting to do!” And of course, there were those like Shannen Cotta, 21, who went mainly because his friends did – there was no better way to socialise during summer vacation!

Camp activities included games, talks and various classes teaching things ranging from sports, computers art and craft and dancing to cooking, swimming, music and even toy-making. Nadia says, “At my camp, we had resource people coming in from various parts of Goa, counsellors who would give us a talk on self-confidence or other such issues. We learnt how to make candles, played games, had little cooking sessions and so on.” “I went for a summer camp which had a number of clubs that we could choose to join. Each club had ‘classes’ that went on like regular school – after the bell rang, we would move on to the next activity. I joined clubs for art, dance and swimming,” adds Joanne Lopes, 19.

At summer camp, these youngsters had the opportunity to pick up a wide variety of skills, outside of the usual school environment. Rochelle Fernandes, 22, attended a camp specifically for basketball, organised by her school, Sharada Mandir: “They wanted to train us youngsters hard, every day, without issues with timings because of school, tuitions and so on; hence, it was held during the summer holidays.”

The biggest benefit of the summer camps, as each of these youngsters unanimously agrees, was the chance to hang out with friends, make new ones by the dozen, and catch up with those not seen for most of the year. Ashima Puri, 21, says, “All my friends from back home were in different schools, and summer time at a camp was the one time we could meet up after ages, do stuff together and have a gala time!”

For many, like Mark, Declan, and Shannen, the friends made at summer camp, were friends that stuck for life. For others, friends made then, haven’t stuck around, but the memories made with them certainly have. Nadia says, “We made friends with a lot of children who had come to Goa to spend their vacation here. I haven’t met those people ever since, because, obviously, we didn’t use any kind of social media back then to keep in touch. Still, it’s nice to have these memories of them now that we’ve grown up.”

While childhood summers inevitably turn into a happy blur of memories, there are certain moments that stand out – summer camps were like no other for making memories like these! Whether in terms of childhood crushes that earned the culprit lifelong teasing as in the case of Ashima and her friends, or injuries that turned into sources of laughter like Shannen accidentally whacking his best friend with a baseball bat, or overnight camps at a time when sleepovers were few and far between like Mark did, providing favourite camp memories is perhaps the greatest lasting benefit that the summer camps gave the youngsters who attended them. [H]

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