The Summer Vacations

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Written by: Yamna Iqbal

It was the first day of school after summer vacations. The three friends of Grade VIII, Asim, Danish and Saleem had decided to plan their vacations but an announcement by the principal made the vacations a secondary topic of discussion and everyone in school started talking about the announcement. The principal announced that the school was going to hold the First Term Examinations after 20 days. The three friends then decided to study hard and score better marks in the exam than they had scored in the Grade VII finals in which Asim had got second position with 87% marks, Danish 80% and Saleem 77%.
The first term exams were done and they were now waiting for the result which was to be announced at 9 a.m. Monday morning. On the result day, all the three friends were excited; Asim was hoping to get the first position. He reached the school about an hour late but he was so excited and happy that everyone in school guessed he would score the highest marks.
Asim entered the classroom and immediately walked towards the blackboard where the names of the position holders were written along with the percentages they had scored. He was surprised to see that his name was in 3rd place. But what left him even more astonished was the name of his friend Saleem which was in second place with only a difference of 3% between his and Saleem's result. And Danish had got 75%.
The result kept Asim and Danish surprised for the whole day and they were wondering how Saleem had earned second position when in Grade VII he had managed to score 77% only.
When Asim and Danish met Saleem the next day at school, they asked Saleem to share the secret which had made him stand 2nd in class. But in reply Saleem asked his friends how they had spent their summer vacations other than completing their homework. The reply puzzled them but anyhow they told him about their vacations.
Asim said that he had spent his vacations by visiting his relatives in other cities and sleeping a lot as he had worked hard for the Grade VII final exams and few months of Grade VIII. Danish said that he had played a lot of games during the vacations, indoor and outdoor. Saleem then told them about his vacations. He had joined a boys' scout camp for 20 days and travelled to different areas of the country where they performed many activities like educating the tourists about the site and group competitions between different groups of the camp. There, he also learnt the skills of camping, hiking and self-defence. The knowledge of first aid and of different kinds of plants, herbs and animals was also given.
At the camp, he met many other participants who were a little older and a few of them were also a little younger than him.  He became good friends with them. As they started to share their school stories, Saleem told them about his result of the 7th grade final exams and the very average marks he scored in subjects like Maths, English and Urdu. The older participants shared their stories and suggested solutions by which he could overcame his weakness in the subjects. They told him names of good books which could help him in understanding the subjects better. They also advised him ways by which he could control his unhealthy and non-productive habits like oversleeping and wasting time in unnecessary activities. They helped him in planning how to attain balance in his daily activities by allocating specific time to a specific activity.
When he returned home from the camp, he immediately tried to act on what he had learnt from his camp friends. He bought the suggested books and started maintaining a diary to organize his daily activities. Then, he spent the rest of the vacations completing his summer vacation homework and working hard on the subjects he was weak in. And all that hard work which he did in the vacations paid off on the result day and he achieved second place in the first term exams.
So, what he learnt at the camp was, to get a good result at anything requires hard work and knowledge building to be done continuously.  And of course... "Practice makes a man perfect."