Nature Camps at CEE Sites
CEE’s nature camping programmes provide an opportunity to people of all ages to ‘reconnect with nature’ and experience its beauty and diversity, ranging from the high altitude camps in the Himalaya to the grasslands of Velavadar, from marine camps at Beyt Dwarka on the mouth of the Gulf of Kutch to mountain trekking and adventure camps at Mt. Abu and Kumbhalgarh. Similarly, forest camps at Polo and Bakore provided a wonderful opportunity to not only explore the unique forest eco-system, but also opened a window to the life of the forest dwellers, their culture, agriculture and traditions.
During 2017-18, Sundarvan’s corest campsite at Bakore was renovated with a view to make it almost reptile proof; during the entire camping season, no reptile was seen in the vicinity of the camp huts. Saplings of native trees were planted at the site which are doing well. In all, 29 camps were conducted here in which 1128 people participated, with a total occupancy of 87 days. New attractions like Star Trails were initiated wherein participants come and take pictures of the celestial movements in the sky. Three camps were conducted for specially abled members at Bakore campsite. During the first week of October 2017, the first Basic Course in Butterfly Watching & Taxonomy was also conducted at Bakore.
The marine camps at Sundarvan Beyt Dwarka are much awaited by people. In all, 19 batches consisting 740 participants participated in camps of two nights and three days each. Though Gujarat has the longest coastline in India, this is the first marine experience for most of the participants. The camps were conducted during December to end February. Most of the participants could see different types of corals, crabs and other marine life including plenty of algal growth, with a sighting of the playful dolphins making it a memorable experience.
Four high altitude Himalaya camps were conducted during this year in the beautiful Kullu Valley, with 126 students enthusiastically completing the Dhanu Kanu (12,190 feet) trek, mesmerised by the beauty of the Himalaya.
This year again, camps at Mt. Abu were organised during the summer. A total of 11 batches involving 328 campers from all age groups participated in the wilderness camps of Arbudachal. A special camp for tribal children as well as adventure camps were also organised at Mt. Abu as is done every year. Besides trekking, nature awareness and the usual camping activities, sloth bear sighting always remains one of the most thrilling experiences of the camps at Abu.
Two camps based on the theme of agriculture were organised at Lokbharati Sanosara. Lokbharati is a centre in Saurashtra where the Lokvan wheat variety was developed. It has a beautiful campus and a vast expanse of land surrounded by hills covered with scrub forest. These camps provided adventurous activities such as trekking and bird watching, along with a glimpse of tribal culture and the land cultivation pattern. More than 87 campers participated in these camps.
To mark the celebration of World Environment Day (WED) at CEE, an overnight camp for children was organised on the CEE campus itself on June 4. Activities such as star watch, night trekking, nature trails, bird watching and adventure games were the major attractions of this overnight camp. The children then participated in the WED celebrations at CEE.
Apart from these camping experiences, different watch programmes including a monsoonal visit to a grassland were some of the highlights of the year. Overall, during the year, about 2500 plus participants were hosted in these nature camps, igniting in them an appreciation and love for nature.
Nature Camps in CEE North
Dolphin Camp at Valmiki Tiger Reserve : As part of the Dolphin programme, CEE North conducted two dolphin camps cum mela of two days-two nights duration at Valmiki Tiger Sanctuary. The camp was attended by 10 dolphin schools from different clusters with over 40 students along with teachers and partner NGOs participating. Nature trails and ‘walk in nature’ were conducted by the CEE team. School teams displayed their work on dolphin conservation in an exhibition held on the second day of the programme for local schools and other visitors.
Bio-cultural Nature Camp Programme : Since 2013, CEE and Wipro are working together on the Earthian-Paryavaran Mitra initiative. To provide a different kind of educational experience, the Earthian winning school teams of 2016 of the Continuous Engagement Programme in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab were invited to be part of a bio-cultural camp. Bio-cultural camps are focused on learning about biodiversity and the cultural importance of the area. Such camps are an opportunity to stimulate joyful, enlightening insights and experiences – for ourselves, as well as for our children and youth. These programmes are aimed at inculcating appreciation of nature, natural resources, indigenous people and their culture, and its importance.
In November 2017, a two nights and three days nature camp for a group of 25 students and five teachers was offered to the Earthian-Paryavaran Mitra winner schools of UP, Rajasthan and Punjab. The nature camp was organised in one of the famous protected areas of UP - Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in Bahraich District of Uttar Pradesh. The objective of the camp was to orient students to the unique biological and cultural aspects of the sanctuary, to expose students to the conservation and sustainability practices of the sanctuary and to develop an appreciation of the need for biodiversity conservation. In all, 25 students and five teachers from five schools of Lucknow, Ajmer, Barmer and Ludhiana attended the bio-cultural camping programme.
National Nature Camping Programme at Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary : In December 2017, a nature camp of three days and two nights’ duration was organised by CEE North at Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary. A group of 30 students and three teachers from a school in Lucknow attended the camp held during the Christmas break. Suhelwa is popular for its bird sighting, especially some rare forest and water birds. As part of the camp activities, the CEE team conducted a lot of nature games to help children understand concepts related to varied ecosystems present in the sanctuary. Apart from these, students got to see vultures which can be sighted only in protected areas now. Students also interacted with the Tharu tribe residing around the sanctuary. The participants stayed at Tapovan farm which helped them to see and learn about the different varieties of grains and their cycles, eco-friendly technologies such as solar pumping station, vermi composting system, bio control methods for pests and also the rich biodiversity of the area.
The group also visited a rural school and interacted with the children there to learn about the sanctuary from them. In the evenings, the students shared and expressed their thoughts about their interactions and observations. A quiz was conducted to gauge the children's understanding and the winners were given prizes.
CEE, in partnership with Wipro and Bhagirath Gram Vikas Pratishthan, organised a three day camp during September 2017 at Nivaje village in Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra. The camp aimed at orienting students to the unique biological and cultural aspects of the region and was attended by 12 students and three teachers from three schools of Maharashtra.
The camp provided students an experiential learning opportunity about the biodiversity, livelihoods, lifestyles and culture in the Western Ghats. The group was hosted in seven family homes in Nivaje Village. Students lived in the local people’s homes and experienced their daily routines and got to know the local culture via several group sessions like nature trails, cultural programmes, talks, visits to local units, etc.
The work undertaken by Bhagirath under the Small Grants Programme (SGP) on promoting and constructing biogas plants and improved animal health in the village was also highlighted. This initiative also enabled the local community to get an exposure on home stays and camp facilitation as an income generation activity.
Sundarvan - CEE Bakore Forest Campsite
Bakore Taluka, Mahisagar District, Gujarat, India
Sundarvan - CEE Beyt Dwarka Marine Campsite
Via Okha Port, Dev Bhumi Dwarka District, Gujarat, India
CEE’s Information Facilitation Centre, Thaltej Tekra, Ahmedabad 380 054, Gujarat
Established as a Centre of Excellence of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India.