29 Nov Developing natural leaders at the Hanifl Centre
The Hanifl Centre is our hub for outdoor and environmental education. As well as enabling students to learn about the Himalaya and develop their skills in outdoor education, the Centre plays a broader role contributing to sustainable development and the wider outdoor learning agenda. With a wide variety of different programmes provided for schools, colleges and universities from around the world, Hanifl helps to transmit an appreciation and understanding of the Himalayan environment to future leaders, from the United States to much closer to home.
Nature Leadership Camps
The Hanifl Centre has been conducting ‘Nature Leadership Camps’ for Mira Model School from Delhi since 2014, one each in summer and fall seasons. Each camp lasts for three days and is attended by students of grades 11 & 12. Based on the methodology of outdoor education the camp offers various kinds of activities, and students are invited to reflect on their experiences during evening sessions. Each group has some students who execute a responsible role at Mira Model School, and over the years, we have had prefects, class representatives, student editors, sports team captains and event organisers coming as participants.
Each group also has two ‘mentors’ who have been to Hanifl Centre before as participants and who have shown leadership potential through other activities in the school. We address goals which are specific to these mentors by having defined roles and responsibilities for them. The groups camp at the Burgoyne Campground, pitching their own tents and taking care of its maintenance during their stay.
Other activities that they undertake are: a visit to Jabbarkhet Nature Reserve with the chance of looking at the latest catch of camera traps, visit to Turner Organic Garden, ‘sunrise visit’ to the Chakkar, climbing a 30-foot-long vertical wire ladder on belay, indoor climbing in Woodstock School’s gym, team games and a session on weeding out ‘kaala ghas’, an invasive species of plant, in Woodstock School premises. In addition we have classroom sessions that acquaint them with Himalayan ecology and the region’s socio-cultural ethos along with contemporary challenges of the local populace.
The most significant take-aways for the school have been as follows:
- Students were observed to have discernibly benefited by their experiences here, and some of them went on to take responsible roles in school events
- The school started the practice of time capsules after their visit to Woodstock School
- Tent pitching was consistently mentioned as a solid skill that was picked up
- The role of mentors was found to be very beneficial and has become a coveted one through the successive batches
- Some very creative manifestations of students’ reflections have been seen, and have included poetry, skits and statements of impacts.
Another connection that Woodstock School has with Mira Model School: its chairman, Mr. Mohit Oberoi, who is an adventurer par excellence, has built Woodstock’s indoor climbing wall.
Through the chance to experience the Himalayas’ natural beauty at first hand, and learn practical outdoor skills, courses like the Nature Leadership Camps are an excellent way the Hanifl Centre can spread environmental education to a wider audience. And we hope that when the children return to Delhi, they take a little part of the Woodstock spirit back with them.
Shantanu Pandit, Head of Outreach Programmes, Hanifl Centre