I was terribly jealous of course. It looked like my kids had a better time at their Inme camp than the best European holiday we had taken them to. For me, who prided myself on being the coolest parent on the planet, it was a big blow. So now I had to be even more funny and entertaining than ever before to eradicate this and bring my kids back into the fold!!
Joking aside, if anyone has to ask my kids about the best experience they ever had in their lives, their camp at Imne would undoubtedly be counted among the top. In fact, we are lucky that we got our kids admitted into Inventure Academy when we shifted to Bangalore. The school was great- the teachers were friendly, the atmosphere informal and nurturing and the kids were encouraged to take responsibility, become inquisitive, develop critical thinking and question status quo : all important attributes for a happy and successful life. Most importantly, Inventure had tied up with Inme to ensure that every child went through one of their adventure camps.
While my wife and I knew that this would definitely build their character and make them better human beings, we had not anticipated just how much impact this would have.
The first to go was Ananya, who was in the 9th grade when she went for the Inme camp at Rishikesh. Thirty odd kids travelling all the way from Bangalore to Rishikesh and back by a combination of flight, bus and train itself was great fun. But even this paled to comparison when compared to the stint in the camp.
For Ananya, it was a time for self-discovery. It was here that the normally sedentary and bookish Anaya realised that she could really stretch herself physically. The overnight trek, the rafting, the various other physical activities - each of these stretched her to the maximum and made her realise her physical capacity was much higher than she had assumed. It was the Ropes-Course that was the icing on the cake. The fact that she could actually complete it faster than most others in her group- including many boys- was a matter of great pride and a fact she incessantly chattered on about for the next couple of weeks. The whole experience also helped her forge extraordinarily strong friendship with some of her classmates. Today, even after four years, even though she shifted to a different school after her 10th grade, these kids are like one family and I believe Inme is to thank for this.
My son was luckier. He has gone for 4 Inme camps - Yercaud, Coorg, Tons and Rishikesh. Advay, unlike Ananya, is an extremely physically active child. Given a basketball and a bunch of friends, he can spend the whole day in the court. I could see how life changed for him as well after his very first trip. He was only in grade 6 then and again new to the school and we were wondering how he would take on to 5 days away from home.
We need not have worried. What came back was an elated, more responsible, more confident - if a bit more aromatic - Advay. He had loved every minute at Inme. Over the next 4 years, the love never flagged. In fact, after each trip, his love for Inme grew. For him, apart from the physical activity, one thing that stood out was the overnight treks where the children had to completely manage everything - from carting equipment, erecting tents, cooking and cleaning- all on their own.
He also loved the talent show each child had to put up at the camp. Being a singer, he enjoyed showing off his talent.
But what both Ananya and he enjoyed above all was the quirky and funny instruction given by the camp instructors; and also the funny, thrilling and sometime scary stories that they told the kids around the campfire. I suspect that for both the kids, the instructors became superheroes.
All in all, Inme has something for every child, and no child must be deprived of an Inme experience.
So while I am bloody jealous that the kids would remember their Inme experience over the Rs.5 lac Europe trip, I will be always grateful to Inme for bringing out the best in my children, making them better human beings and most importantly, for inculcating some fantastic values in them.