Over the years, KIS has taken advantage of its unique location at 7000 feet in the Palani Hills, providing students an unparalleled experience of the environment and extraordinary adventures with nature. As a part of #LetsCelebrateKodai, we interviewed three seasoned hikers and Tahr Pin winners over the years.
Hiking & Camping Program
KIS is probably the only school in India that can boast of offering its students an independent dedicated campus for outdoor and hiking activities. This also goes to prove the emphasis we lay on establishing a connection between the students and the environment that surrounds them. Even though students have been going on hikes since the inception of the school, a more structured hiking and camping program was introduced in 1991 and since then it’s been a key feature at KIS. We try to take full advantage of our location at 2200 m in the Palani Hills and this is one thing generations of alumni remember fondly about the school.
The KIS Camping Program
The KIS camping program gives our school community an opportunity to explore the wilderness and natural beauty of the Western Ghats at our off-campus property, Poondi camp, which is tucked away in a remote corner of the Palani hills near Poondi village-- 42 kilometers from Kodaikanal. Our Poondi campsite’s 135 acres are home to rich flora and fauna and is the perfect getaway for a weekend of fun, adventure, bonding and learning. Our camping program helps our students to get acquainted with their surroundings which in turn teaches them to value and preserve it.
The lake that lies on our campsite plays host to activities such as canoeing, boating and swimming. The campus also has a rope course, zip line and a professional climbing wall. Our well-trained staff ensure that the highest safety standards are met and that all students stay safe while enjoying themselves. Depending on the grade, every student is taken to the campsite at least once a year. For our more experienced senior students, the school outdoor team also organises 80-mile hikes around the campus that span over three days.
At the campsite students also go on walks, play games and enjoy themselves around bonfires in the evening.
The KIS Hiking Program
Participating in hikes gives the students an idea of what they are physically capable of as they see their stamina grow each consecutive time. While helping others in finishing their goals, students learn key lessons in teamwork. We have seen that the bonds that are formed in the outdoors stay with the students forever.
Although hikes can be arranged any time during the school year, the “Hiking Season” begins in the first semester when staff and students participate in pre-arranged hikes organized by the school. Some students also chose their hikes with the goal of earning the coveted hiking award the “Tahr Pin”. All KIS students are required to participate in the program and attend their class camps. Every student in the Middle School (Grades 6 to 8) needs to attend at least one hike in one academic year. It is mandatory for the High School (Grades 9 to 12) students to participate in at least one hike before they graduate. There are hikes ranked A, B, C and D, based on their length and difficulty. Students go from easier to more challenging hikes as they get accustomed to the terrain. There are several mini-hikes which are also planned from time-to-time, but are not counted in credits.
The Camping and Hiking program has been extremely enriching for both our teachers and students. It gives students and staff a chance to:
see the surrounding countryside
break the school routine over the weekends
learn to live in the outdoors
bond with each other in a relaxed setting
The Tahr Pin and Hiking Awards
To keep the school community motivated towards meeting their hiking goals, KIS gives several awards to outstanding hikers. The Tahr pin is a plated pin named after the rare and elusive Nilgiri Tahr. After earning four Tahr pins a hiker is awarded the Gold Pin. Students and staff who hike all of their Middle School (Grades 6-8) and High School (Grades 9-12) earn the Outstanding Hiker plaque. A lot of freedom is given to the students and staff members, who plan to complete the Tahr Pin requirements, in enrolling for the hikes according to their individual school schedules.
Hikes required for a Tahr Pin are:
- Grades 6-8 minimum of 2A, 5B and 3C hikes
- Grades 9-12 minimum of 1A, 2B, 3C and 3D hikes
- Staff who are not committed to the Grade 6-8 program are expected to meet Grade 9-12 requirements