In communion with Nature
Clubs related to adventurous activities, science and botany, greenery and zoology are taking the city students by storm, writes S. AISHWARYA
Photo: M. Moorthy
Getting closer Keen to learn
The tree was in its darkest shade of green, with a trace of mist blurring its outline. A group of students, oblivious to the bustle of traffic, watch it through the netted eye-piece of monocular.
On a designated day every week, the tastefully designed park at the college sees a flurry of activity in the early hours. The students make it to the college well ahead of their class time and take a close watch of the winged visitors to their college.
“It has become a weekly routine for our students,” says A. Relton, who heads the Nature Club of Bishop Heber College. His club, now slotted into Part IV of college curriculum, enjoys overwhelming number of takers year after year.
“We restrict the members to 100 every year. Watching Nature has been a fascination for all of us. All we do is to encourage students to observe Nature and give them academic credits,” he says. The students will soon compile a booklet listing 42 types of birds spotted in their lush campus.
If his students come in tune with Nature with help from a classy monocular and binoculars, there are handful of other clubs in the city that bring children close to Nature in their own way.
The clubs, among other things, give students healthy doses of commune-with-Nature philosophy. They show them the woody side of world and give lessons on how well to relish it.
Few even teach them the survival skills when Nature turns rude. The Science and Adventure Club, for instance, takes its members for annual Himalayan trekking, where the members learn to scrabble up shelter and food from concrete. “The weather will be at its harshest. There will be kids as young as 10 years. You can’t expect them to rise at early hours in the morning when the temperature plummets to minus,” says the co-founder of the club Vrinda Ramanan.
But yet, the kids brave it all, trekking to heights of 16,000 feet above sea level. The kids make sure the place is left clean. Manoeuvring their way with backpacks and sleeping bags, they pick up plastics littered by earlier visitors, dig pits and bury them. “We tell them keeping the Nature clean is first step towards enjoying it. And our members can’t agree more,” she says.
Eight years in the making, the club shows how people and Nature can coexist. They freeze the scenic beauties through photographs and identify the exotic flowers that border the mountain ranges.
A relatively new entrant in the city does something similar. Barn Owl Nature Club, moving its base from Baba Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, to Tiruchi on Andar Street, has started enrolling Nature-loving kids. From walking through the bleached rocks near seashores or identifying new species of trees in the neighbourhood, the club has a host of plans to fascinate them.
“We are happy to see some kind of environmental awareness among people here. They plant tree and nurture it. But not many know the characteristics of trees. That makes them easy to ignore Nature,” says Kamala Venkataramani, one of the three founders of the club. The other founder, her spouse B. Venkataramani, who formerly headed the Analytical Chemistry Division of BARC, has also turned to Nature, armed with camera.
The club will encourage students to come up with projects on flora and fauna identified in their area. “It’s not the dreary herbarium work that they do for Botany classes. We give each child a tree and a bird to observe. They spot them wherever they go. It captivates the children,” she says.
Sri Sivananda Balalaya adopts a different approach to captivate its students. The school takes them to lush fields for one part of the day and then to soggy and poorly maintained ones during the later part. “They learn the difference. It’s about maintenance and the students are sensitised to it,” says the Correspondent of the school K. G. Meenakshi.
For KG students
Kindergarten kids enjoy the beauty of pristine Nature almost every morning. After the school assembly, the teachers take them around the little garden in the campus. When there is a new flowering in a plant, the toddlers are allowed to get a feel of the texture and fragrance.
“When the evenings are too pleasant to resist staying indoors, we ask the students to come out of their classes and breathe in fresh air. Nature must be the first lesson to be taught. Academics come later.”
The Nature clubs in the city, too, give a close-up of Nature and its non-human occupants through Nature treks and seminars. So the next time you decide to saunter by, take along your kids with you. They might point out the best parts of Nature that you have missed all your life.
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