In December 2009 Beacon High’s Nature Club ‘Aranya’ came to Native Place for a field trip.
This was their annual event and 32 children and 4 teachers arrived at Native Place full of energy and excitement to take part in an interesting 2 days of nature activities planned out for them.
The activity began with a familiarization talk covering the boundaries and the do’s and don’ts at Native Place. After a quick refreshments and showing the kids their rooms etc. We set out on the Native Place Garden trail where we introduced the children to the sustainable plan of the garden. The children were introduced to the many indigenous trees, medicinal plants, herbs and climbers here and told about their varied uses and importance in nature.
After this the children were divided into 2 groups and an exciting game was played to up the levels of enthusiasm as well as refresh the concepts learnt on the trail. This was then followed by a series of sensory games to explore trees, their shapes, sizes, leaves, bark, patterns, colors, shades, fragrances etc. The ‘explore a tree’ games went on for the rest of the afternoon as delighted children led their partners through a series of interesting sensory games.
In the afternoon a scavenger hunt was organized and while the groups presented their collections with great enthusiasm and vigor, tea and snacks was served.
We then headed out to the lake to see cormorants, egrets and black ibis roosting on a tree by the water. The children waked gently trying not to disturb the trees and once they flew away we marveled at their sharp sense of hearing. After exploring the lake, skimming stones etc we settled down to do a sound map and then a creative writing exercise being inspired like the great poets in the midst of nature.
After listening to bird and wind sounds we then watched the sunset while noticing subtle differences in the temperature as we moved from day to night. We watched for the first star, the birds flying back home, the wind temperature become cooler and the day sounds go quiet and the night sounds begin. We then headed back in silence to guesthouse looking forward enjoying the view from the terrace.
Later in the evening, we saw a bird and tree slide show and then headed out for an exciting night trail. We had played blindfold games before and now the idea of walking at night using our owl eyes and fox ears was very exciting.
The next day some of us woke up early and went bird watching. We saw bee-eaters, swallows, a kingfisher and a shrike. After breakfast we drove out to a remote place and explored the forest there. After seeing many interesting plants and insects along the forest trail we followed a dry stream bed until we came across a few cool pools of water. It was quite warm but we enjoyed the simple activities we did by the lake. On the way we saw a mongoose, a kingfisher, a peacock feather, porcupine quills and heard a langur in the distance.
We made tattoos with ferns and chewed the leaves of a plant after which we could not taste anything sweet for more than an hour. We learnt that the forest was a great huge store cupboard of medicines and useful things and it was important to preserve them. WE learnt how to keep track of the direction we were going in, how to conduct ourselves safely in the forest and the importance of not leaving any trace of our presence behind. When we came back to the guesthouse we had lunch and then an exciting treasure hunt. Soon it was time to get back on the bus and leave for Mumbai. We wished the outing had lasted at least two more days. We wanted to climb the big Umbar tree, spot the golden oriole we heard in the morning.
"It was a memorable trip for my students and accompanying teachers. Native Place is an ideal location for a nature club outing. The ambience made it so apt. The lake, the variety of birds and trees – wow!! Comfortable stay and nutritious meals. Both added to the meaningful experience. Kids enjoyed the walk, the tree identification and other nature activities with Astrid. "- Pallavi Furia, Beacon High School, Khar, Mumbai