After a wonderful last two experiences at Nagpur and Jaipur Camps this time I was excited for the long-awaited National Integration and Youth Leadership Camp to be held at Dabolim, Goa (2015). Every year the camp is organized at different locations which brings excitement and enthusiasm in everyone. After the arrival of all the candidates on the Xmas eve, on 25th Dec the inauguration ceremony of the camp was held. The chief guest invited for the ceremony was the Hon. Defense Minister of India: Mr. Manohar Parrikar while the chief guest was Hon. Chief Minister of Goa: Mr. Laxmikant Parsekar. It was indeed a privilege for all of us to witness such intensely personified personalities among us. Local students showcased their performances in front of such dignified guests in the form of classical dance, folk dance of Goa and few other breath-taking acts.
From next day the training session commenced with the effort of waking up early morning at 5 AM and undergo all kinds of physical exercises consisting of yoga, aerobics, parade, dance, singing, recitation, mobile repairing class, finance class along with civil defense, fire-fighting and first aid training by naval officers themselves and ultimately concluded with cultural meet at the evening followed by dinner and hitting the sack by 10 PM. The same routine was followed each day of the camp. Casually reading all of these on paper sounds much simpler than actually going through those activities personally. And I say this out of experience since before joining the camp even I used to consider all this a no big deal stuff until I actually decided to join the camp in 2012 at the Nagpur Camp. It is then when I realized that the Camp is definitely not what you expected it to be. The amount of physical toll it takes on your body is what makes you realize what kind of training our Indian Army soldiers have to go through each and every day of their life. Obviously it is not even worth comparing with our kind of training but just living an ounce of their lives makes we appreciate the efforts they put to keep us civilians safe. The discipline and punctuality observed throughout the camp was really strict. Almost on par with that of military camps. Hence the reason we often even referred it as one. Apart from these sessions what also attracts candidates for participation at such large numbers is the excursions and the educational trips organized each year.
The excursions are usually tours of the city the camp has been set up while the educational trips organized are at defense bases or government organizations like HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.), INS Hansa (Naval Aviation Base) etc. to which no civilian including ministers do not have regular access to but fortunately enough we were able have a visit, through special permissions of course, for which I am truly grateful and pay gratitude towards all the officials of the organization.
For instance this time we had this incredible opportunity to visit the Naval Aviation Base ‘INS HANSA’ in Dabolim (Goa). A chance we perhaps would have never received anytime else in our lifetime as a civilian. Initially we were first taken to the harbor of Black Panthers squadron were we were able to witness legendary Mikoyan MiG 29K. A technician briefed us about the working of the engine as well as the other technical details. The MiG 29K is a single piloted aircraft consisting of 8 air to air missiles along with a machine gun, bombs, ejection seat and other avionics. Its max speed can exceed up to 2 Mach+ which is approx. of 2200/ kmph with additional on-air refueling capability. The MiG pilots were being trained there for precise taking off and landing maneuvers on the aircraft carriers.
After that we were taken to the Wingless Stallions harbor where we were shown the Soviet Il38: An anti-submarine warfare aircraft. It had the capacity of 8 people along with 2 pilots. It had a radar attached on its top while a SONAR beam emitter at the bottom of the aircraft to detect submarines below the water surface. The 1980’s Russian aircraft despite being a vintage model is still used for surveillance as well as mission purposes which proves its efficiency and reliability.
Later on we were taken to the ATCT (Air Traffic Control Tower) of Dabolim airport where not only civilian aircrafts but also the fighter aircrafts and choppers were controlled and monitored. We were explained about the controlling of the aircrafts from its take off to its landing. The aircrafts are monitored on 2 types of control system. First is the Aerodome controller which covers a range of around 8 nautical miles on the visible radar. And second is after the aircraft crosses the visible range it is observed on the radar controller which covers an area of 70-80 nautical miles and later crossing that range the monitoring of that aircraft is handed over to the ATCT in close proximity of that aircraft.
Each year students keep awaiting for this one week of the camp because it is not just any ordinary camp! We consider ourselves a family! A family with no blood relation, nothing in common yet eager to be reunited every year to let loose of all the stress in the world by means of not any kind of relaxation or vacation but instead by going through a routine of rigorous trainings and activities. Hardcore trainings isn’t the only thing we attend the camp for. The mutual feeling of having a sleepover with your friends for a week, enjoying all of those trainings together by creating small moments of humor every once in a while, pulling out pranks on every one all the time…these wonderful little moments can cheer up your mind no matter what kind of rigorous training sessions one has to undergo and also help you get rid of all the stress of outside world. I really wish I would have started attending the NIYL Camp much sooner than I actually did. Never the less, as they say, better late than never. And somehow I was able to outdo myself and eventually this time I was able to stand up to the expectations of all the officials and teachers of the camp and I was shortlisted for the Best Cadet Boy. To prove our worth we had to undergo parade marching demo followed by a short sprint race. After being selected in the top 3 candidates, a GK exam was held. Later that evening the Best Cadet Boy was announced and the moment I realized it was my name that was being announced the joy and pride I felt was beyond comparable. Not for myself! This award meant more to my dad than perhaps it did to me. He was the one who wanted the most for me to win this award. At that moment I was happy, because finally I was able to make my dad proud of me! I achieved something he wanted so eagerly for me to. I finally won at something in my life. LoL…
Attending this camp has provided with lots of valuable virtues in my life. Not only has it brought a disciplined approach in me but also it has taught me to be humble, well-mannered and a down to earth human being (Yes, I am humble & down to earth. No need to overreact!). The prime virtue that is incorporated in each of the students by the CCSCOY organization is to dedicate yourself to the service of the uneducated, poor, elderly, specially challenged people and most importantly to your Motherland. That is the least we can do to repay our nation to whom we owe our lives. Thus this is also the motto of the NIYL camp which is also stated in the Camp Oath.
The amount of change this camp has brought in me is such immense that it cannot be expressed through mere words. It is something which can only be experienced and not expressed. So the only way you can feel the adrenaline I so keenly mentioned above is to live the thrill and experience it firsthand…