It’s not just the buildings that make KIS “home”; it’s the people, community, and the lifelong bonds that we form during a whole range of activities at the school. And, of all the wonderful activities that Kodi has to offer, I’m certain I’d miss the Poondi class camps the most when I graduate in another year.
I have been part of the Kodai school community for six years and as a keen hiker, I try to participate in most outdoor activities. KIS is possibly one of the very few schools with its own dedicated campus for outdoor and hiking activities. Poondi campsite’s 135 acres are home to rich flora and fauna and make it the perfect getaway for a weekend of fun, adventure, bonding, and learning. Having attended five grade camps and multiple 40 and 80-mile hikes at the campsite, I would vouch for Poondi being one of the most exciting and memorable parts of any student’s experience. I’m sure what I write would resonate with all my friends when I say that it is a place where each individual finds a fun way to explore, let loose, and bond.
Every year as we arrive at the campsite, we run up the hill to choose the best tent, even though we end up staying in them only for a few hours. While we spend the majority of our time outside the tents, the memories we create when we are inside are unique too. From sharing horror stories with a flashlight under our faces to hugging each other and keeping close when we hear a rustle in the woods, there are no dull moments.
Poondi offers a whole range of activities. The lake that lies on the site plays host to various water sports. During the day there is boating, canoeing, hiking and zip-lining and at night there are bonfires and even night hikes! The change in location allows us to disconnect from the regular school days and bond together as a grade. All of us get into the camp spirit pretty quickly. Whether sitting by the lake and conversing, playing cards on the Covered Courts, volleyball or football, there is something for everyone. Poondi also has an obstacle course, climbing wall, and archery; activities that everyone wants to try out.
The camping trips also give us the right environment to connect with our teachers and get to know them better outside the regular school interactions. We see the fun and adventurous side of them. They, too, get into the spirit of Poondi and let loose. Every year, around the bonfire, our teachers would repeat the “true” yet unnerving story of the “white lady of Poondi”, and, when we least expect it, someone would invariably dress up as the “white lady” and try to play a prank.
Apart from the wonderful scenic beauty of the campsite and the many activities it has to offer, all would agree that Poondi food is the absolute best. The annas work tirelessly in the kitchen preparing a variety of delicious meals and snacks for all of us over a wood-burning stove, whose aroma elevates the food to new delectable levels. When it gets close to midnight, though, it’s our time to try our hands at making snacks over the bonfire like s’mores or doughboys. Some may find new hidden talent, while others end up burning theirs.
Irrespective of our opinions, likes, and dislikes, as the sun goes down all of us gather around the bonfire under the stars and listen to that one good musician play the guitar. Poondi gives us the right opportunity to shed our inhibitions and discover our musical skills without the fear of judgment.
As we trundle away from the campsite, down the hill, carrying our backpacks to the vehicles waiting to take us back “home”, I realize, each one leaves Poondi clutching a bag full of memories. I’m blessed to say that my bag overflows.
Aalia Fernandes (Class of ‘23)
Photos: Uday Bagaria (Class of ‘23)