An eye-catching waterfall, a gushing serpentine stream, a scintillating mountain cliff, a picturesque terrain, a graceful slope of a glacier; all this evokes emotion. Dazzling beauty of such signature shots of nature provide an open invitation for nature lovers to rejoice and refresh. This umbilical cord connecting humans with the nature is an eternal equation. Craving for adventure to explore nature is quite natural. But it is the temptation for adventure beyond control that turns into a misadventure.
Educational institutions organize picnic programmes. As an extension of curricular activities, children find opportunities to enjoy and appreciate nature. A typical formal school setting and free surroundings at picnic offer two different environments. The innate tendency to feel excited comes spontaneously. In this rush of excitement, children are susceptible to risk-taking behaviour.
Some explanations pinpoint negligence, targeting teachers. But children play pranks even during their family outings. This is where intervention is needed the most. Both parents and teachers exert authority. During the preparations, much of the parental attention is focused on dressing, pocket money and consumable items. Children and young adults must be fed with caution and instructed properly to be careful at picnic places.
Psychologically, attention seeking behavior is found in majority of the people. Children and teenagers being extra sensitive are relatively more desirous to be noticed. At times, while seeking attention, they resort to risk-taking behaviour. Infatuation for social media outlets like facebook, instgram, and twitter drives them crazy. Uploading photos, videos or short reels with animated effects for maximum likes and comments is a new found desire.
Children and young adults are good at imitation. The acts of aggression whether real or virtual have relatively more chances of being copied. Movies, reels and advertisements displaying actors showcasing courage in a video-graphed stunt invites heightened curiosity and attention. And once such actors or celebrities become fancy role models, copying their acts becomes a prestige point. The madness to get attention at times is accompanied with the element of risk. Many youth endanger their lives just because of this immature and irrational act.
The excessive use and association with smart phones is a worrying trend. Mind is completely overtaken by smart phone addiction. Physically a person may seem to be driving, eating, reading, writing, or talking but smart phone obsession lands him in a fancy world. Being alert is a challenging task as smartphone addiction has robbed off the alertness. This induced absent mindedness reduces the attention span and also amplifies the chances of negligence that at times proves very costly.
Health wise – all are not identical. Outings require stamina and strength. Fragile bodied and weak hearted find difficulties to meet the requirements of a tough trek. Regular physical checkup of students will be handy for early identification of any minor or major health issue. Students with any health ailment may either be advised to stay home or can join the excursion under strict supervision of the staff members. Instead of individual camera/mobile phones, group photographs should be preferred. Free selfie shoots particularly at dangerous spots must be completely discouraged and disallowed.
Embankment and fencing wherever necessary in the vicinity of water bodies, river banks, bridges, waterfalls, mountain cliffs, trekking terrains can reduce the degree of risk to some extent. Vulnerability profiling of picnic venues must be undertaken as an urgent exercise. This information will serve as a guide for the people in general and educational institutions in particular to follow appropriate measures. While selecting the venue, access, distance, weather condition, alternative routes over-crowdedness, prior permission and traffic advisory must be taken into consideration to finalize the preparations.
Prior preparation for natural expedition demands physical and mental fitness. A sudden trek or a tour requires readiness that can be instilled with regular exercises.
Over-exposing the body that lacks stamina to confront a challenging task can invite trouble. Wearing slippers, high heels or fancy sandals while roaming around tough terrains or stream sides can trigger a tragedy. While preparing for the outings, nothing should be taken for granted.
Bilal Kaloo, Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education , North Campus (University of Kashmir)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.