Magic Bus sessions are not only valuable for children and youth, but have a lasting impact on adults too. On a recent trip to India, the BioUrja team spent a day at the Magic Bus Center, a 22-acre residential campus providing one of the best outdoor and adventurous experiential learning spaces in India. The team participated in team building and experiential learning activities and came away absolutely convinced by the power of play and sport. Well, as they say, sport is a universal language!
On a sunny morning, the BioUrja team trekked over to the Magic Bus Center in Karjat, which is located on the outskirts of Mumbai. Spread over 22 acres, the Center comprises of dormitories and numerous activity areas, and is filled with natural beauty and greenery.
On arrival, the Magic Bus team warmly greeted us and they went on to share the day’s schedule. We were also introduced to the word “Pilelo-Ho.” “Pilelo-Ho” is an energy-filled word used by Magic Bus mentors to draw children’s attention in group settings. The mentors, who are like a big brothers and sisters to the children, throw out the first part of the word at the children: “Pilelo!” They immediately can grab the undivided attention of the whole group. The children, who are ready for the session, confirm that they are paying attention by responding with as enthusiastic a “Ho” to complete the full word.
At any moment during play—when a new activity is being introduced, or the energy levels are…well…going down, or even if the mentor needs to call upon some action—“Pilelo” and “Ho” do the trick. In fact, these words work so well as an energy booster that the BioUrja team has begun using them back at the office to grab our colleague’s attention!
We started off the way with a hearty breakfast. Custom at the Center mandates that everyone wash their own dishes—a small action conveying the importance of being independent and doing tedious tasks with dignity.
The morning session began with a couple icebreakers for the group—“Hawa ka Jhoka Aaya” (Hindi for a “gust of wind”) and “Kauwa & Koyal” (Hindi for “Crow” and “Cuckoo”). These icebreakers had more than their intended purpose—they taught us about team building, the importance of communication in an organization, and how being loyal and hard-working can be beneficial not only for oneself, but for the organization as a whole.
After the icebreakers, we were split into two teams and the main games began. One team opted for Adventure activities, while the other chose Ground-based activities. Adventure activities were centered on boosting one’s confidence levels—they taught us how to fight our fears and believe in ourselves. The key learning from these activities is to never give up!
The ground-based activities offered opportunities to discover and develop one’s personal and interpersonal skills. The Ground-based activities that the Magic Bus team conducted taught us the importance of teamwork and leadership. An important lesson was that a team is like a family—and that one needs to give them time and space to get the best out of them. When things start to go awry, bring together those who aren’t getting along, and make them work through their concern.
Another challenging game we played was ‘Finding the Whistle,’ which taught us that things are never the way they seem. The way this game is conducted is to make participants laugh…a lot. Despite our busy and hectic schedules, we learned that we should always make the effort to take time out to enjoy and laugh.
The day had flown by and before we knew it, it was dinnertime. After the scrumptious dinner, we entertained ourselves with some dancing and singing around a campfire—an activity that surprisingly reenergized us after a tiring day.
On day 2, we participated in a ton of new games and activities. The first of them being an activity called ‘Flagging,’ which stressed the importance of balancing the many aspects of our lives. It also reminded us how communication and coordination amongst a team are the keys to success. Despite everything being balanced, if we miss out on communicating or coordinating a minute detail, reaching the end goal can become difficult—and could lead to a high probability of failure.
Another important learning came from a game where we had to remove physical obstacles that were in the way of our teammates and be there to support them. We learned to have each other’s backs and that we needed to be there for one another. The learnings from this activity really summed up our experiences during the two-day trip. We are often told these messages, but sometimes we really need to be reminded of them by actually experiencing them from time to time.
I am grateful for my experience at the Magic Bus Centers and learned so much in just two days.