First published in December 2016 edition

School was coming to an end. It was nearly time for the summer holidays to start. Just another two days and the fun time would begin.

Ravi and his friend Bobby were very excited. They would soon be going to the fourth grade. They had decided to go camping on the first weekend of their vacations. Every day they would discuss their plans on the way back from school. They could not wait for the holidays to start.

And finally, the day arrived. Last day of exams, and the start of holidays. Yipeeee!!!!

They were to go camping with Ravi’s older brother Nitin and his two friends Sid and Veer to the National Park. The Park was going to be kept open one Saturday for camping activities.It had wonderful trails meant just for treks and also had the famous Kanheri Caves that they could explore.

They all met on Saturday morning at Ravi’s home. Ravi’s mother gave instructions to Nitin, about not letting the two younger boys roam about alone, and to always be by their side.

‘Don’t worry Ma, we will take good care of them,’ said Nitin.

‘You and your friends are much older and have done this before. This is their first time. They are excited and may get lost,’ answered Mum looking worried.

‘No, we won’t. We shall do whatever Nitin tells us to do. Don’t worry Ma.’ Ravi gave Mum a tight hug.

‘Are you all ready to leave?’ asked Dad. He was going to drop them at the park.

‘Yes, we are!!’ They replied in chorus.

And off they went. Nitin had carried books to read and Sid had carried his binoculars to watch the stars at night. Each one carried a bedding and some clothes in their rucksack.

They reached the car and unloaded all their things. Dad reminded them to be careful and said goodbye

‘I’ll carry the tent!’ offered Sid, but the tent was heavy so Veer had to help him carry it to their campsite.

Bobby and Ravi helped carry the pots and pans and followed the others.

‘It’s time to set up the tent. Who wants to try doing that?’ Veer asked with a smile.

‘I will!’ said Ravi.

‘I will too!’ said Bobby

So the two of them helped Sid and Veer set up the tent, while Nitin went about setting up the pots and pans and collecting wood for the camp fire.

They struggled with the heavy tent for a very long time and finally by afternoon it was up. It looked rather big and grand. Once inside, the boys arranged their beddings and bags. Ravi and Bobby’s beddings were on the left side and Nitin, Sid and Veer had theirs on the right.

Nitin had prepared a light snack of the sandwiches that mum had sent and some fresh mushroom soup that he had made over the fire. They all were very hungry after all the work and ate up every bit.

After a short rest in their tent, they decided to walk up to the caves. It was going to get dark soon so Nitin wanted to reach the top quickly to watch the sunset. On their way to the caves, they saw some deer, and different type of insects, birds and plants. Bobby was not too fond of insects, so he stayed a little behind. He wanted to get back to the tent. The others were busy looking at some anthills, so he decided to walk back alone.Due to the fading evening light, he took a wrong turn and kept on walking until he realized that he was lost and that he had been walking in circles.

off to camp

‘Nitin…, Ravi…, Veer…Sid… Where are you all?’ he called out sobbing. He hated being alone and was scared that some insect would bite him or some wild animal would attack him. He sat on a log crying and hoping he would see his friends soon.

Meanwhile,the others and nearly reached the top. Sid who was leading the group turned around and got a fright of his life. Bobby was not there.

‘Guys, where is Bobby?’ he asked.

They all turned around. ’He was right behind us,’ said Veer.

‘Booobbbyyy…’ they yelled but got no response.

‘Maybe he has gone back to the tent,’ said Ravi

They walked back towards the tent. But Bobby was not there either!!!!

‘Veer, you stay here with Ravi, Sid and I will go look for him around the park,’ said Nitin.

They had walked around for nearly half an hour and were getting really worried. It was totally dark now. They used their flashlights to look around. The beam of the light made the park look creepy. Suddenly they heard a sound behind some shrubs. They stopped to listen hoping it was not a wild animal.  But on straining their ears they realised the sound was not scary, but a soft sniffing and snuffeling sound.  They went towards the shrub cluster and behind the leaves, they found Bobby sitting on the log and crying softly.

When he saw them, he jumped up with joy and ran towards them.

‘Oh, I’m so glad you found me, I got scared of the insects and thought I could go back alone. I am sorry, I was terribly scared,’ He said with relief.

‘It’s ok.’ Nitin knelt down beside him. ‘Next time do not wander off alone.’ He put his arm around Bobby to calm him down.

They headed back to the campsite. Ravi was overjoyed to see his friend safe and back. Nitin made some yummy food, and they sat around the fire singing songs and gazing at the stars.

Later, they went to sleep in their tents, with the soft light of the fire crackling outside. It was so peaceful.

‘I love camping,’ said Ravi. ‘I wish we could stay one more night,’ he sighed. ‘When we are older like Nitin and his friends, we shall come back alone.’

‘Yes, and I won’t get lost,’ smiled Bobby. They laughed and fell asleep, happy to have started their vacations on an adventurous note.

Word meanings:

  • trails – easy paths to walk on in nature parks.
  • rucksack – a strong waterproof bag with shoulder straps to help carry things on the back.
  • cluster – a group of things of the same kind
Background music: Antony Raijekov / CC BY 2.5
Off to camp
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