A ‘How-to-Live’ Summer Camp for Boys was organized at YSS Noida Ashram from May 23, 2018 to May 27, 2018. The programme was conducted by volunteers under the guidance of Swami Sadanandaji.
Children (boys) of YSS devotees, studying in class VII and VIII participated in the camp from all over India. Initially, 52 applicants were registered, though eventually, it was a camp of 46 boys. They were divided in four groups. Each group was led by three group leaders.
Arriving on May 22, the children were inquisitive about what programme lay ahead for them in the coming week. They bid adieu to their parents without hesitation settling down in the Noida ashram of Gurudeva Sri Sri Paramahansa Yoganandaji.
The programme was inaugurated with an opening prayer and chanting by Swami Lalitanandaji. He told the attendees the purpose of the camp and encouraged them to be receptive to the teachings that would be imparted to them during the camp. Swami Sadanandaji conducted the orientation session during which he shared the details of the programme, enlisting things to do and “not to do” during the camp. The participants were provided with a bag containing a stationery kit, a diary, a T-shirt for sports and schedules of the programme, along with cosmic chants in English and Hindi. Dressed up in white kurta-pyjama, they appeared as little angels of Guruji prompt to absorb his His spiritual teachings.
Navigating through five memorable days, the young ones attended Guru Katha and satsangas based on human values. Swami Sadanandaji spoke on ‘Why and how to meditate’, Brahmachari Vinyanandaji explained how to ‘Pray in the language of your heart’, while Brahmachari Sheelanandaji guided the children on how a ‘Balanced Life leads to happiness.’
The boys learnt the Yogoda technique of Energization Exercises during a review class conducted by Brahamchari Sheelanandaji.
The four groups simultaneously attended various craft and work projects that included fun with pencil and origami taught by Brahmachari Vinayanandaji, where the boys exhibited great skill. Many of them picked up important tips and few of them also performed very well in classes on computer application, ‘learn to behave,’ environment and awareness, first aid and emergency handling, basics of chanting, and public speaking and fundamentals of communication.
The evening programmes included a quiz on the Autobiography of a Yogi – the best-selling spiritual classic authored by Gurudeva Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, a video show on Gurudeva and a poem recitation competition. The children also got to meet with monastics where the innumerable queries were put forth, and the monastics responded with simple explanations that this young audience could comprehend.
The real take-home from this five-day camp for the boys was the inculcation of the habit of daily meditation. Beginning their day with yogasnas in the morning, Energization Exercises in the afternoon and in the evening, they did chanting and meditation sessions led by volunteers. In addition, they prayed and did short meditations and affirmations – gaining a priceless lesson of communion with God and Guru.
But what would a day be with all work and no play! Pushing them to work in teams, and stay active, they followed a chart of group-wise slotting of different games prepared by Brahmachari Sheelanandaji – which included cricket, football, dodge ball, dog and bone, etc.
The young spiritual champions were fed with delicious and nutritious food of their choice. To beat the scorching heat of the summer equinox, they were served with lemon water and squashes at intervals. In a session on the review of the programme ‘Comments and compliments,’ the little ones appreciated and expressed gratitude towards the recipes prepared for them.
The finale of the boys’ camp was a colourful cultural programme that had music, dance, yogasanas, skits and recitation performances by the attendees – prepared by them under the guidance of volunteers during the few hours of practice they got during the camp.
The programme was received with appreciation – both intangible and tangible. The boys received the applause of the audience as also souvenirs from Swamis Lalitanandaji and Sadanandaji. Making their way home, the young ones carried back sweet memories and resolved to return to YSS Noida Ashram next year to bask in the love and peace of Gurudeva.
To view images from the boys' camp, click here.