3 Ingredients of Lifelong Learning

by Nalini Dhariwal

At Youreka and Inme, our work is all about taking children on adventures. The pandemic disrupted those plans and while we hunkered down in our homes, we reconnected with individuals, now in their twenties and working, who had travelled with us when they were as young as 10 or 11.

We spoke to many of them and they had vivid memories of their trip. Many told us they had held on to the Cool Books they were given on the trip for all these years, often returning to the reflections or moments they had recorded in them during the camp. This never failed to fill me with pride.

It makes me wonder: What makes one experience last a lifetime? Why do our alumni remember their seven days spent at camp so vividly even after a decade? There are three main ingredients in this magic potion, if I may call it that.

First, kids go through an intense experience. Staying for seven days independently, away from parents and being amongst a group of strangers is an intense experience. Over the week, kids experience many emotions starting from fear to acceptance and then confidence. Many are homesick at the start of the trip, but don’t want to go back when the trip is about to end. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. And so the experience brands itself into memory.

Youreka, lifelong learning through adventure

Second, kids are out of their comfort zone. Doing adventure activities, staying in tents in the wilderness, meeting with frogs and spiders in the bathrooms are not ‘normal’ activities kids are used to. By overcoming their fears, taking risks and coping with each situation as it comes, kids learn.

Last, they have lots of fun. Camps are full of activities where kids are having fun. More importantly, a supportive, non-judgemental environment allows them to be themselves and therefore make genuine friends that often keep in touch long after they return from camp.

The good news is that we don’t need to go to the mountains or summer camps to get the magic potion. It can be made at home or in the classroom. Can you remember a time when you were forced to figure out a solution or create something yourself, without instructions?

The experience of figuring out can be intense and takes us out of our comfort zone because we are not given instructions. With a supportive teacher who guides (but not tells) and by making the experience fun, you will remember not only the solution but the process.

That lesson will never be forgotten.

Nalini Dhariwal is CFO at Inme Youreka, a company that runs experiential learning programs for school going children.