Summer Camp 2016 We, at GSVE (Gopal's School of Value Education), Kochi, the Children's wing of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Conciousness), held our annual summer camp for school children for the 7th consecutive year at Bhavens Vidya Mandir Elamakkara from 18th to 29th April 2016, from 10 AM to 3 PM daily. The Grand Finale was celebrated on the 1 st of May 2016.
The aim of GSVE is to inculcate cultural and spiritual values in our children.... to enable them to appreciate these values such that it becomes a part of their everyday life......to know and grow in their relationship with KRISHNA ....and thereby live a healthy and happy life.....after all everybody is in search of eternal happiness....
The camp is meant for the spiritual enrichment of children in the age group of 5 - 17. Classes are formed according to the age groups of the children so as to enable the teachers to cater to the needs according to their level of receptivity. Children were divided into three sections Mathura (sub juniors), Vrindavan (Juniors) and Dwaraka (Seniors).
Registration started at 9 AM on the first day.
The camp started off with a nice Aarati followed by a short speech by HG Gopal Gaura Prabhu the yatra leader of ISKCON Kochi.
The kids were then directed to their respective classrooms.
Our daily camp activities start with an Arathi where every child is given an opportunity to offer incence, lamp or flowers at the Lord's feet. Children respond well to these simple rituals which help them invoke the Lord within their hearts. Gradually they started bringing colourful flowers, peacock feathers etc from home as their offering at the Lord's Lotus feet.
As in previous years this year's camp was also based on a theme.
This year's theme was: Sub Juniors (Mathura Group) : Festivals of India, where they learnt about the significance of the different festivals, the reasons for celebrating them, Stories related to the celebrations etc
Juniors (Vrindavan Group) : Nava Vidha Bhakti or the Nine types of Devotional Service starting from Sravanam (Listening) and Keertanam (Chanting the Holy Name) ...upto Aatma Nivedanam (Total Surrender) . Stories of exalted devotees who attained liberation by practicing the 9 types of Devotional Service were also discussed.
Seniors (Dwaraka Group) : Ramayana - Children familiarised themselves with the seven "Kandams" (Cantos), starting from Bala Kandam upto Uttara Kandam. Children expressed their experience of gaining deeper insight into our Epic about which they had only very shallow awareness......they were now exposed to deeper insights into the relevance and philosophical connotations of the various incidents depicted in the age old epic.....the significance of various kinds of human relationships which are very relevant even in today's context .... And also as to how the Ramayana came to be written.
The syllabus also included Bhagwad Gita slokas, Japa, melodious Bhajans, Yoga, stories from the scriptures, Art workshop, etc...
The 10 day camp was packed with interactive sessions and other fun filled activities like drawing and painting, quiz, essay writing, Satwik cooking, gardening, etc
Children were also trained for a stage performance to be held on the Grand Finale.
The activities helped children to connect with our culture thereby enabling them to grow inwardly.
Kids were provided with course material. Delicious, Healthy, Lunch Prasadam was served everyday. The camp enabled the children to understand and appreciate the benefits of a satvik diet.
HG Balabhadra Prabhu inaugurated the Grand Finale by lighting a lamp which was followed by a short speech by His Grace.
As in previous years we had an indoor Ratha Yatra which was the highlight of the program.
Melodious Bhajans, a dance by the tiny tots of Mathura group, a Tableau on Nava Vidha Bhakti by the Vrindavan Group and a skit from the Ramayana by the Dwaraka group were other attractions of the Grand Finale.
Competitions for Bhajans, Quiz, Essay writing, fancy dress by the Mathura group etc were held earlier in the camp. Certificates of participation and prizes for the various competitions, were awarded on the final day.
HG Gunamala Devi Dasi Mathaji and HG Krishnabalaram Das Prabhu gave away the prizes.
In her concluding speech during the Grand Finale, HG Rugmini Prema Mathaji, the co ordinator of GSVE Kochi exhorted to the parents that they should nurture the seeds that were sowed in the minds of the children, during the camp, so that they sprout and blossom into healthy minds. To illustrate this idea she drew the Children's attention to the pots and bean seeds that they were given on the first day of the camp to water, nourish and de-weed.
A follow up session once every month has been arranged as of now.
There was a very good feed back from the parents as well.
The camp was a combination of discipline and fun, children made new friends and they were literally sad when the camp came to an end. They are now all eagerly looking forward to next year's summer camp. Like the children, the teachers and volunteers too enjoyed the camp and we all look forward to experiencing another exciting camp.
The day ended with delicious Prasadam.
While this year's camp also goes down in the annuls of the history of GSVE Kochi, we with deep regret recall the pioneering idea of these camps nurtured and brought to reality by our dear (Late) HG Sanandakumaran Prabhu. We miss you Prabhu!
We offer our humble and collective efforts as flowers at the lotus feet of our Guru Maharaj Srila Jayapataka Swami and Srila Prabhupad, the founder Acharya of ISKCON.
This blog was originally published on 'Of Spirits and Spirituality'