NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE CAMP-2011
LIFE BEYOND EARTH- A REPORT

Karavan Heritage and Nature Society, Lucknow, is an organization that works for Environment Education and Conservation.

Karavan's National Environment Science Camp
(Or N E V S C ), held at Dudhwa National Park, is a movement of the student community  striving for Environment Conservation. In the months of November onward,  students from all over country gather at Dudhwa  to  D  I  S  C  O  V  E  R  fascinating things about  Planet Earth through 
F  U  N  &   A  D  V  E  N  T  U    R  E.

The theme for the Camp in 2011-2012 was 
'L  I  F  E    B  E  Y O  N  D   E  A  R  T H'  where the participants were  introduced   to the amazing study  of the existence of life elsewhere in the Universe.
Around 300 Students and 30 teachers joined us for this remarkable voyage of Discovery.


A small report on NEVSC 2011-12 based on the discoveries, experiences and feedback of the participants has been compiled here.

Of all the teams that joined us,  the team from Center Point School, Wardhaman Nagar, Nagpur, put up an outstanding performance and emerged as the overall winner of the National Environment Science Camp-2011-12, Dudhwa National Park. 

We extend our hearty congratulations to the all the students and teachers of Center Point School, Nagpur.

Karavan Heritage and Nature Society would like to convey its sincere thanks to the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department for its invaluable support and cooperation for making the National Environment Science Camp 2012 possible.

What is it?
(If there is something at all!)
That rivals the
Beauty of
Dudhwa Jungles……

It is
The awe- inspiring Dudhwa Night!

You look mesmerized at the heavens above,
And a thought invariably invades the mind,
Is there something beyond?
Is there someone beyond?
Is there Life Beyond?
The confines of our amazing planet.

Admiring the beauty of the Dudhwa Night sky, with thousands of stars twinkling in all their glory, even the most un-inquisitive person, cannot help wondering whether there is someone out there in that distant star or this nearby planet. 

The existence of life outside earth has puzzled philosophers, scientists and all curious people alike. Surely, if the universe is so immense, there is every possibility that there is a place somewhere out there which is similar to Earth and can harbor life.

 But like any other scientific quest, this question too deserves more than just an answer based on pure logic. There should be sound scientific evidence and credible scientific facts to substantiate our premise.

In present times, the search for life beyond earth has stirred the imagination of a host of scientists from diverse fields: astronomers, geologists, biologists and naturalists. They have pooled in their expertise and knowledge to search for evidence to solve this great puzzle.

At the National Environment Science Camp 2011-12, The Karavan team took up the challenge of explaining the intricacies of the exciting new field of Exo-Biology, the science that delves into the existence of life in outer space;

To explain the subtleties of this vast field to school students one needs to adopt the language and style of the students themselves.  Karavan devised a program that was not just scientific in content but adopted a methodology that appeals to students---  a program that  is  F U N to participate in; it has the right dose of A  D  V  E  N  T  U  R  E  and it should be a vehicle for a wonderful  D I S C O V E R Y .

And, so, to provide such an enriching experience, the participants were made to endure a set of challenging activities. We called these activities:  D A R E S ------
because the participants were assigned such tough tasks that stimulated thinking, imagination and improvisation. 

We structured out such a program in duration of Four Days where each day marked a step in the journey to understand:
     1. Does life exist anywhere in the universe besides the 
            earth?       
2. What is the form, shape and structure of the 'alien' lifeforms?
3. What are the concrete evidences of the existence of life beyond earth?
4. Why should we be concerned about life beyond earth? 

This last issue assumes the greatest significance because the human appetite for resources has despoiled the Earth and threatened to extinction precious life forms that have lived securely for ages and ages.

Surely, humans must fathom the secrets of the Universe, but they must treasure the invaluable gems that exist on Planet Earth itself.  

This is how we went about in the quest for LIFE BEYOND EARTH at the National Environment Science Camp:

Day 1: Aliens Fact or Fiction:
 On the very first day, it was necessary for the Campers to have a first-hand of the jungles of  Dudhwa and experience the excitement of a Camper's life.

Day 2: Secret Formula of Life
Having spent a wonderful day in the wilderness, now more aware of the camp theme, the Campers were told about the advent of life, the conditions that make life possible and that Life is nothing less than a Miracle.

Day 3: This Earth of Ours,
Nurturing a million known species and possibly countless unknown, it is unlikely that there could be place anywhere else in the universe that can support even a minuscule fraction of life-forms that exist on this Earth of Ours.  On the third day, the Campers gained a Kaleidoscopic view of the bio-diversity on earth and realized its importance.

Day 4: The Last Chance:
We, Humans, have meted an utter disregard upon our Planet. She has been like a poor milch cow.  We have ravaged the resources for our pleasure, convenience, utility and worst of all for our amusement.  This grievous damage to the earth cannot continue any further. We must pay heed to the fact that we are now on the brink of a catastrophe. We, each of us, need to act and act fast. This is the last and final chance.


Behind all the excitement of the Camp, lies the all important idea for which National Environment Science Camp is organized.  The Campers  were assigned to do something (even it is seemingly insignificant) for the conservation of Dudhwa and thus make their personal contribution to save this Paradise.   

Day 1

DARE: BERMUDA TRIANGLE
'Disappear into nothingness'

Bermuda Triangle is a mysterious zone in the Atlantic Ocean. It is said that ships and aircrafts, supposedly captured by Aliens, vanish here a without a trace

The Dudhwa jungles are as mysterious as the Bermuda Triangle and even today many parts are still quite uncharted. Even the bravest of brave avoid venturing out here.  The challenge for the Campers was to solve the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle of Dudhwa, on their own, unassisted. 

This Dare, organized at the very outset of the Camp, was an effort to make the Campers feel that they are a part of a mission of searching for life beyond earth.  It also helped the campers feel at home even in the seemingly inhospitable jungle.

This is how the Campers described their experiences.

'”The best DARE was to search the Bermuda Triangle.  We explored the forest and also learnt to read the map in a specific way and also to stick to the plan which we had made earlier…..”
 Survivors, Centre Point School,  Wardhaman Nagar Nagpur                  
                                                                         
“The first dare Bermuda Triangle put us through a challenging journey where we learnt about the different types of flora. We experienced the beauty of the plantation and sal forest. We found it difficult to navigate around because of a various routes and leaves (strewn all over). We noted that people of the village believed in forest gods, who saved them from being haunted (by dangerous creatures)” …….
Titans, Delhi Public School, Delhi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
“We all went to participate in the first dare the Bermuda Triangle. We navigated through the jungle with the help of a magnetic compass & map. We worked hard and last found the Triangle”……. 
 Strugglers, Tagore International School, East of Kailash,  New Delhi             

Day 1
DARE: MEN-IN- BLACK
A Mission In Search of Aliens’

This Dare is inspired by a top secret organization in the United States called the Men-In-Black that is said to search for alien or extra terrestrial life. As a part of this dare the Campers were tasked to design a spaceship to Mars in search of Life; using all kinds of things collected from the jungle.
The objective of the dare was to help participants work as a team because quest for life in outer space is an interdisciplinary field involving different scientists. They work together by putting aside the differences of opinion.

“The next morning was the MIB: (to design a) Spaceship with jungle materials. It was then that we realized the fruitful result of teamwork”……
BISKATES, Oxford Grammar School, Hyderabad
 “We felt like real scientists while designing the mission to Mars and figuring out the major elements required for life”…… Green Hornets,Miles Bronson Residential School, Guwahati  

DAY 1
DARE: JUNGLE IDOL
'The extinct animals come alive’

The spirits of the extinct animals of planet earth (like the Indian Cheetah, The Pink Headed Duck, Dinosaurs, Mammoths etc) enter into the campers and they participate in a jungle idol contest complete with costumes and make-up(designed by the participants with material available locally).

The objective of the DARE was to let the participants understand that such powerful life forms which at one time were so abundant on planet earth became extinct.
With every passing day Life form are getting extinct from Earth.

'In Jungle Idol we learned about extinct animals and enacted like them………………………... '  Killers,  Tagore International School EOK New Delhi

DAY 2
DARE: FIVE ELEMENTS
'Dare to create the fundamental structure that constitute Life’

Five Elements ---- Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Space ---- refers to the five basic elements that all ancient  civilizations believed constituted the entire universe.

The Scientific objectives of this Dare was to make interesting collections of the flora, fauna and non-living components of Nature; and then catalogue, analyze  and interrelate them to the Five Elements.

“The Dare was something we never imagined we could do”…… Nature Protectors, Bishop Johnson School, (Girl's Wing),  Allahabad    
                                                                                                                                     
“ Dudhwa---- the epitome of nature; the only place in India where one cherishes the true beauty of nature; where everybody is equal; no one is rich or poor. This is the place where everybody sensitizes towards the environment......”  
 Dabang, Centre Point Schol, Katol Road, Nagpur

DAY 2
DARE: EXTREMO-PHILES
Endure the rigors of the hardiest organisms in the universe’

Extremo-philes are a kind of life-form that exist in under sea-vents and survive under extremely hostile and impossible conditions.  If Extreme-philes can survive on earth in such impossible conditions, there is very much a possibility that similar life-forms can exist elsewhere in the universe.

 What is their formula of survival! We challenged the Campers to find it out themselves at Dare Extremo-philes .  The campers had to endure a long trek to the Mohana River on the Indo -Nepal border and then participate in a tough relay race that involved wading the Mohana waters and getting past the rival tribes.

“We went to the Mohana River which was a lovely, picturesque place and we had the feeling that we were on a beach”……… Survivors, Bishop Johnsons School Allahabad

DAY 2
DARE: TERRA-X
'Conquer your fear to discover the unknown Earth'

THIS EARTH OF OURS is still a great mystery. Scientists and Naturalists admit that there is still immensely more to know about Planet Earth.
Dare Terra X (Unknown Earth) was unraveling the mysteries of the jungles of Dudhwa at the dead of night. Through this dare the Campers were motivated to conquer their fears and prejudices to develop a bold and analytic mind.

“We came out of the darkness phobia after finding the Vetal “.....  Tayak Survivors, Centre Point School,  Nagpur

“We lost all our fear.  We went boldly into the dense jungle
 from where nobody can escape.” ……
 Strugglers, Tagore International School EOK New Delhi

 “We then had the best dare so far:  Terra X. Finding the Vetal was so creepy and thrilling. It was strange to see us spoilt kids becoming adrenaline junkies.  “ ……BISKATES, Oxford Grammar School, Hyderabad

DAY3
DARE: KALEIDOSCOPIC WORLD
'Capture the Moods of the Jungle’

With the Campers discovering more and more about life beyond earth, they would now have some inkling that Extra-terrestrial life is not just wild imagination.But no other place in the universe is likely to match the complexity and diversity of life as that on the Earth, which is incomparably unrivaled.

The beauty of Earth can be truly appreciated if we have a certain sensitivity to see things from different angles and frames. It is like peeping through the Kaleidoscope which reveals new and exciting patterns at every angle.

Dare Kaleidoscopic World challenged the Campers to capture the many facets of the jungles, grasslands and swamps and transform the many pictures into a movie. It was an introduction to world of movie making. Campers explored the immense bio-diversity of Dudhwa.  As future citizens, they realized the great need for its conservation.

This is how the Campers describe their experiences:

“ We got up  at 4:30 early in the morning and left  for the tourist zone of Dudhwa National Park. The morning was very cold and we went in jeeps for the safari. We saw interesting animals like Spotted deer, Wild boar, Barking deer, Swamp deer, Jackal, Crocodile etc. Caressing the Elephant was just mind blowing.
We also saw many amazing birds like the storks, pond heron and many more. They were just too beautiful. Climbing up the machans and seeing the beautiful things and enjoying the cool breeze was fun”.
“For this Dare, we had to click  an interesting picture to make a movie based on it. There had to be a Producer, Director, Dialogue, Writer, Hero and Heroine. Major Ya- Ma was the guest of honor. The people accompanying him were really great. Their make-up was just too  good. During the performance,   the evil Po-Ching suddenly jumped in the middle of all of us. Our heartbeats were as fast as a train running on the tracks” …..      
Wild Tigerz, Centre Point School, Katol Road, Nagpur   


“Kaleidoscopic World was the most fabulous experience of our life. We went for the jungle safari, admired the wildlife and then selected a background for our movie”……
F-HUNTERS, PooranChand Vidya Niketan, Kanpur


“The tigers had given birth to two cubs and for their security no-one was allowed near the lake. The special areas for the Rhinos were bordered with electric wire. We also come across the herd of spotted deer and wild elephants”…….
MilesBronson Residential School, Guwahati       

DAY 4
DARE: GREEN KNIGHTS
'Save the Earth’
We dared the Campers to solve the problems that plague planet Earth with  Dudhwa National Park as the reference point; to understand the problems that are damaging the ecology here and thus leave one's pugmarks by way of doing meaningful something for Dudhwa.
And what did our brave Green Knights do, they narrated their beautiful experiences of Dudhwa to the young village kids and passionately urged them to protect and preserve the rukhas (Trees) and baghtas (Tigers) of Dudhwa.
                                                                                                                     
“ We had another dare called Green Knights.  We had to chant slogans and take out a rally to create awareness about saving trees amongst the villagers. We shouted our throats out and somehow made our rally successful.
'Foresters PURAN CHAND VIDYA NIKETAN, KANPUR
“We enacted dramas, sang songs and even danced.
Entering into the dark, kacchha houses, running after the lambs and chicks, wearing the traditional dress, performing the traditional dance and interacting with the small innocent children was really fun.”
FALTUS, Oxford Grammar School, Hyderabad
DAY 4
DARE: FINAL TOUCHES
'Imbibe the very essence of Camping’
The Final Dare was designed to help campers imbibe the very essence of camping i.e. dignity of labor and self reliance. We at Karavan dared them to restore the campsite to the exact state it was when they reached here:  orderly and organized. The Campers went all out to clean and restore the campsite, their room tents and also the toilet tents. We wished to communicate that scientific work is no cakewalk; it involves diligence, persistence and great labor.
 
This is how the Campers described their experience:
“Final Touches was a new experience for all of us as we cleaned THE tents and washroom on our own. LONG LIVE  DUDHWA! LONG LIVE EVERYONE  HERE!” ……      
Spartans, Miles Bronson Residential School,  Guwahati

The National Environment Science Camp has been organized at Dudhwa National Park for last many years now.  A new theme helps the participants discover interesting aspects about the Environment , Ecology and Conservation.

During one occasion, the Campers were told about the 'Wonderful Web of Life' (interdependence); one year we unraveled the 'Mystery of Evolution'; then later about the Eco-sytems of Dudhwa, the 'Garden of Eden' and much, much more.

But the Karavan team strives for something deeper than merely the thrill and adventure of Camping in the wilderness.We encourage the Campers imbibe the attitude of conservation in their day to day lives.

This earth of ours is extremely precious. As the participants discovered during this Camp, no place in the universe can rival the earth.  We, all of us, have to save our jungles; our environment; our beautiful earth.

 
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