The first night I reached there was at around 9:30 pm. It was a slippery journey, especially the last leg, but when my headlights shone on the campground I saw the remnant of a campfire around which were seated dark shapes. I could make out tents encircling the campground, and lights being reflected from the puddles on the ground (from the recent shower). The lone bulb hanging on a pole near the campfire barely offered enough light.
Suddenly a scurry of activities as a couple of people came running towards my car and lined up in front of my car-door. I couldn’t make out who they were. As I turned off the engine and opened the door of my car, I heard an “Up!” command as six dark human-shapes saluted me. I peered in the darkness and I heard giggles as one by one they came and hugged me.
First in line was Nima Tshering, a teacher colleague of Samtengang. I had trained him during BULT in the December of 2013 and we had also volunteered together during the first annual scouts conference at Thimphu. He is a jolly fellow and an innovative scout leader.
Next was Kinley Dorji, my adopted brother. We had volunteered together for the regional camp at Damphu as well as the scout conference in Thimphu. And I have heard that he is a passionate volunteer who has done so for many camps, be it regional, national or international. I had also trained him during BULT at Khuruthang in January 2014. He is a recent graduate of Sherubtse college.
Then there was a girl, whom Kinley introduced as Dorji Om Dorji. She is currently studying in RTC, and she had been volunteering for long. We were meeting for the first time but I had heard a lot about her from our mutual friends.
Then there was Phub Dem who is a recent graduate of RTC. Incidentally I had also trained her at Khuruthang, and we were volunteers together at the regional camp and scout conference. She and Kinley had been volunteering together for many programs.
Ana Dechen Wangmo, teacher of Punakha was also there. She is my adopted sister from almost 15 years ago, and I had trained her at Khuruthang. We had also worked together during the Scouts’ conference, and I know she is an energetic scout leader.
Last was Kinley Tenzin. He is also currently studying in RTC and we had volunteered together at the regional camp in Damphu last winter. He is full of energy and full of life, and scouting has really kept in check his bad energy flows.
With smiles and laughter I returned their hugs in kind, and they escorted me to the staff tent. When I raised the flaps, I saw Karma Wangchuk, Karma Tenzin, Rinchen Khandu and a lot of new faces….all scout leaders and volunteers; they in the midst of the nightly staff meeting. As they looked at me, I shared an enthusiastic “Kuzuzangpo” to all, and withdrew back outside.
Finally I was here. The 14 hour drive I took from Bumthang this morning, via Thimphu to reach here had paid off. Physically I was tired, but I was happy to have made it here among the people with whom I feel close.
“Let’s see what new faces might tomorrow morning bring.”