The Rich Trip

Chapter One | Part II – Camp

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Our journeys are stories of our own.
This is mine and I’ve allowed some of these points to stand, in spite of being corrected.
It’s not a guidebook or marketing piece for the Sunday paper.

It is semi-fiction: A fictional description of a true story.

– First time abroad, was with Candida for 7 days in Sweden

Now, Candida has dropped me off at the campsite
– I feel excited and brave

Click here to check out Part I


Fagerudd Conference centre, Enköping

For me, goodbyes were like waves. Waves that always came back. No goodbye was ever ‘the last one’. But this one was – err – Permanent. That realisation stung me. I was Never going to see Candida again. Candida was my local guardian in Sweden, my host mother. She was not only an air hostess but also the kindest house hostess ever.  She represented Sweden for me. I was definitely not ready for this goodbye. Moreover, I was terrified by the ‘unknown of the camp’ hovering over me. 15 strangers. How will I – err – forget it. I kept chanting what Candida said to me, “You’re brave and you’ll be fine.”

It was a cloudless sky on the morning of my new adventure (inspired by Alice). It was the reason why I was in Sweden: This Very Camp. It was an international exchange camp organised by Lions Club. It had 16 campers (18-22 years), each representing their nation.

“Let’s get you settled?” Candida asked. I shook my head at my exceptionally gracious hostess. She had dropped me at the campsite – Fagerudd Conference centre, in Enkoping. 

“No. I- I NEED to do this on my own.”

“A-Are you s-sure? Oh-oh-okay. You’ll remember what I said, right? Promise me Richa – this is not the end.

I was certainly going to miss that face. That face signified the entire country, the entire continent for me. It was compassion in a human form. But at that moment, I HAD to be stern. If she accompanied me, it was going to get more difficult than it already was. I planned to just walk away without looking back. I wasn’t crying. But hugging her again would have gotten… gotten…. err…  It was hitting me harder than I thought it would.

I didn’t miss her as much as I thought I would. Just like everybody, ‘life’ happened. Right then, there were several novel experiences with some wonderful young campers. In India, the challenges multiplied. In fact, I’d not thought about any of this until this corona lockdown.

“There are 4 rooms in your cottage with 2 campers in each. So, 8 campers – 4 girls and 4 guys. There is another cottage next to it with 6 rooms. 4 for campers and 2 additional rooms. One is for Charles, your camp coordinator and one is mine. I’m Molly, a visiting doctor. You are in room 141. There,”  she pointed robotically. Then she paused for a breath and continued, “Your roommate is Rosemary from Finland. She has not arrived yet. Here’s your schedule and a list of all the campers. An introductory session by Charles will be held here. It will be followed by lunch. The space you see there doubles as your dining hall. Any questions?” 

“No, thanks,” I murmured, too stunned to form questions. I forced my lips to curve, then wordlessly took the sheets she offered.  

She stank of frustration. Bad day, I guessed. Huh, what-the-hell.

If I would have seen the sight first, Molly’s mood would not have mattered much.

The melody of water splashing on a rock gave rhythm to the clear skies and sparkling clean streets. 

‘Beautiful’  had become an overused adjective here. It was all beautiful until mentioned otherwise. 

My shoes made a tap-tap sound on the wooden floor with every step they took inside the dining hall. The reception desk was in the corner. The hall had been given a Swedish makeover from the simple decor it had that morning. Blue and yellow danglers (yeah, they fit in the flag colours wherever they can) dropped from the ceiling and excitedly danced in that lively breeze. Next to the reception desk was a podium. Charles, the camp coordinator demanded everybody’s attention in the sleek grey suit. It matched the velvet dresses wrapped around the golden wood of the chairs. He was undoubtedly more than six feet tall with a lean built. 

I should stop making the workout plans and actually get my a** to work the plans out.

I was never ‘overweight, but not even the fit abs-biceps-muscles type. I maintain that.

Facing him were several chairs sprinkled across the room. Some were occupied by campers like myself. I sat beside a pretty blondie. That was a routinely found appearance here, I idly observed. All stared at Charles, making me follow their gaze. His voice boomed through the speakers in that room.

“From the world’s 7 billion, you have been chosen to be in the humble land of 10 million. That’s such an honour. Make your nation prouder than it already is. I hope you use this time to learn from your batchmates, to lead groups when requested and to interact with people from different countries. You may have more in common than you realise. 

You are now in an important phase in your life. Many of the decisions you take will serve as the platform for your future. The subject choices you make, the organisations you join, the friends you make will all determine the path in life that you follow. This camp will certainly assist you to make those important decisions.

The foundation of success in the modern world is information. Every day we are learning. No matter what work you do or what age you are. Let’s use this time to learn as much as we can and go out there and apply the knowledge better together.
The main theme here is ‘acceptance’. The activities will include sightseeing and bonding. This youth camp is an important initiative of Lion’s club and supported globally.”

Wow. I was immersed in his every word. It was the awakening I needed. I will never get this chance again. I was gonna make the most of it. I resolved. Although, the ‘bonding’ he talked about was going to be challenging. But I won’t grow unless it challenged me, right? I will figure out a way to overcome that. After all, I was the chosen one.

I am grateful for those experiences. They give me a reason to write.
I feel blessed.

The room felt ignited with the right inspiration. Mimicking others, I cheerfully waved my arm at everyone when my name was called out. Good thing that they did not make us introduce ourselves. I was not prepared and had nothing to say. It was as easy as a classroom roll-call. Molly had rightly mentioned, there were 8 girls and 8 guys. 

  1. Ambrosia – Ireland
  2. Kaelynn – Germany
  3. Bao – China
  4. Me – India
  5. Rosemary – Finland
  6. Amy – Slovenia
  7. Maria – Russia
  8. Lynda – Sweden – Guide & Local Representative 
  9. Damon – Czech Republic
  10. Stefan – Macedonia
  11. Mark – Poland
  12. Ted – Austria
  13. Jacob – Italy
  14. Matt – France
  15. Chris – USA
  16. Tony – Sweden – Guide & Local Representative

Rosemary, my roommate. She would be the first person I’d meet. I didn’t listen to any other names after hers. Thoughtfully, a break was announced before gathering for lunch. I couldn’t wait to meet Rosemary. I hurried to my room.

Rosemary never disappointed me.

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. In case if you are not happy with the content and/or the images here, please write to me at

Adiós, amigo!
Thanks for reading and catch ya next week.
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Chapter Two: Two Mates Or True Mates

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By Richa Koparday

Xavierite | Mican

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