Updated: Apr 9, 2020
The heights of academic challenges, management hassles and administration performances can easily bewilder an organization and its values. The St. Joseph's College Faculty decided to take on the off-campus training camp with us. The experience of a lifetime was the promise and the Mpower A.S.C.E.R.T. team delivered.
The Faculty of St. Joseph’s College Devagiri, embarked on an exciting journey led by Mpower A.S.C.E.R.T. Institute. The three day off campus training program was intended to strengthen bonds and break barriers. The faculty of SJCD were insistent on a fresh perspective to working together throughout an entire academic year. The off-campus training to a pristine mountainous location made perfect sense. One key focus of the program was to align the thought processes of an organization’s faculty to create a stronger core team. The candidates were pushed out of their comfort zones to experience the natural beauty of the camp site in Kuttikanam. Off campus training, packed with team-building activities and a range of adventure courses was designed to instill a fortified sense of togetherness and confidence among the group of academicians. The location chosen for this program had to be isolated, had to be adventurous and had to be worth the wait. Camp Kuttikanam, a remote camp site that sits on the shoulder of one of the highest peaks in South India had to it that special something. A scenic view, a challenging trek, a trail into the mountains and exceptional hospitality were the highlights of this trip. These conditions weren’t just ideal, they were perfect.
The very journey to the top of the hill in itself was a thrilling experience. Combined with some crucial experience drivers, the training program was a journey to remember. The first day on camp was a day of leisure, meant for the faculty to recuperate from the 8 hour drive and to rejuvenate them for the challenges that lay ahead. The hot summer sun and the cold mountain breeze helped the candidates familiarize themselves with the tents. The camp sites were cozy and the mountains were quiet. The nights were cool and refreshing.
The second day was all about the eagerness to start the activities and the build up had forged expectations that kept facilitators on their toes. Day two was perhaps the most physically demanding and daunting for the group of teachers, administrators and college management. A challenging trek through the mountains with slippery slopes along the cliffs, harsh climbs through the bushes and commando crawls on the rocky falls stood a rewarding experience. A dried-up waterfall made for a perfect temporary camp site. It was crucial that the group made camp, to cook lunch away from anything flammable as the mountain regions were graced by the sweet summer sun. A few team building activities were introduced along the way to create a sense of unity and reinforce the ethos of the values each member brought to their team.
Whilst we let the food cook, senior facilitator Prajam led the group into a seamless trance of understanding each other, his words resonating with the group and they were keen to learn. The group fluttered and fell many at times during the trek, but persistence was paramount and the group figured that out on the trek. Working together to overcome challenges, casting away their differences and striving to achieve a group’s goals were fulfilled with solid effort and determination. It was wonderful to see the compassion and support the candidates had for each other, moving in a pack, protecting each other and offering a helping hand even when they themselves could have used it. “A paradigm shift” as one of the candidates said, created a united front, as they powered through the journey to reach the next major activity.
Free hand rock climbing and rappelling were the next major obstacles before the group could finally reach the camp site. The instructor, Mr. Mohan (Mohanji) along with his celebrated crew had set up a course along the rocky mountain surface. Mohanji is a motivational speaker, an adventurer, a social activist and a true nature enthusiast. His guidance was more than welcome for the group at large. The candidates loved his energy and passion, as he was able to motivate and push everyone to attempt the rock-climbing course and succeed. A lot of the candidates comprising of teaching faculty and college management, were very much out of their comfort zones yet willing to push themselves further and further, to get back to the comfort of their shelters.
The evening came and the mountains cooled down, revealing a beautiful starry sky that was relaxing after an enthralling day. The coals scorched red, the grills were out and the barbecue was on a roll. Fresh chicken, scrumptious delicacies and a camp site cooking experience under a blanket of stars atop a mountain is a heartening experience. A cool windy night and a clear starry sky was the fuel required for activities lined up the next day.
The daylight dawned on the third and final day. There was a new found sense of accord and kinship evident with the group of college faculty. The day was meant for fun, to unleash the inner child. A morning paced with relaxing activities and comforting simple meals was on the itinerary. Kick starting the day with confident sneers enthused the campers with cheering energy. The last day had to be as close to a vacation as it could be. After all, the faculty had partaken in intense activities that were central to their leadership edifice experience. A short off-road trip through the valley revitalized their sense of adventure almost instantly. A drive to the next fun filled activity was a much anticipated one. The zip line across the Pattumala hills that housed some of the most famous tea estates of Kerala was jam-packed with fresh gusto. The sense of thrill kicked into the group and they were almost instantly engulfed by the overwhelming experience of zip lining at 60kmph over the tea estates. It was certainly a pleasant sight to behold, the childish glow and excitement to be zipping across the Ghats in the cool evening sky. The culmination to the day was certainly a favorite of the St. Joseph’s College Faculty. Dinner at perhaps one of the nicest restaurants in Kuttikanam, Open Kitchen BBQ , housed a rather exotic menu and extremely delicious food to satisfy the appetite of a group that was still overwhelmed by the experience of ziplining across tea estates of Pattumala. The food was delicious.
After three days of camp food and intensive activity-oriented hikes into the cast geography of Kuttikanam, a hot meal to seal the day was necessary. It was a perfect wrap to an already good day. To top it off, a word of thanks from the candidates was simply encouraging and refreshing for the facilitators. It was a long journey back to Calicut, where the next Monday awaited their endorsement. An unforgettable journey together will have set milestones to achieve together in the future. The trip succeeded in strengthening bonds to unify a group’s goals in line with a team mentality, honing their leadership skills and beaming with pure confidence. A quick good bye and bon voyage to bid the travelers adieu, was truly intended for the journey that lay ahead.