A Hindu Heritage Camp was held at Hindu Temple of Canton in Michigan on May 7th 2005.
Indian community constitutes significant population of Canton and surrounding suburbs of Detroit. Obviously parents want their kids to be aware of our rich Hindu heritage. This was second attempt this year in this direction after the Balagokulam Teachers Training Camp on March 12th at the same place.
There was very good response for this half day event. Exceeding our expectation, about 64 kids registered out of which 55 kids attended the camp. 51 kids were present through out the camp and 4 kids left in-between because of some other commitments. On-line registration was used for this which proved very helpful in tracking the registration rate, prompt confirmations and reminders, final listing of allparticipants etc.
After initial registration formalities, the camp started with one of the kids reciting Gayatri Mantra. The camp sessions were organized in a way such that physical sessions were followed by mental/intellectual sessions. 10 volunteers helped session coordinators in conducting their respective session activities. Sunilji Kulkarni and Shriram came all the way from Purdue to help the camp activities.
The first session of games was sufficient to bring the kids out of their inertia after lunch. They enjoyed different team games. It was followed by Shloka session in which the participants learnt about different shlokas related to their daily activities like after waking up, while taking bath and before taking meals etc. Thereafter snacks were served to refuel the kids.
After snacks, Mr. Brian and Mr. Ryan from 'East West Martial arts' (http://www.eastwestmartialarts.com/) conducted an interesting session on Yoga, self defence through martial arts and some meditating techniques with professional expertise. The session was quite interactive and kids loved it. After a short break the kids sang the popular bhajan – Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram …. And also learnt the meaning and message of the bhajan. It was followed by the sanghik geet – 'Hindu Mission is Prerana'. In story telling session the kids learnt the art of giving through a moral story and also enjoyed a skit on 'Turtle & Rabbit'. Then there was second round of interesting games. While the kids were busy in games, the parents were given a presentation and information on Balagokulam activities and it's current relevance and importance in developing the all round personality of a Hindu kid.
Then there was final session of Arts and Craft in which the kids made a bracelate from the beads and painted a picture on Ganesha on an aluminium foil. It was their present to their mothers on the Mother's day the next day.
In the concluding session, certificates were distributed to the participants. Among the respected guests were Dr. Yashpalji Lakra – President, Ekalvidyalaya, USA, Shri. Chalakodeji — Senior Teacher in the Troy Chinmay Mission Chapter, Shri. Narendra Sheth – GEETMALA Radio Program Founder and Vice President of IEROM, Shri. Suresh Shah-President, Hindu temple of Canton (http://www.thehindutemple.org/). Sureshji, in his speech, expressed satisfaction over the organization of the program and assured full support for such camps in future. The half day camp, full of interesting and refreshing activites, concluded with prarthana.
One of the observations from the camp was that the new generation kids are very creative and logical in thinking with a very good sense of humour. They can be immensely productive if coupled with Hindu values.
Some flashing events are mentioned below –
During shloka session, on asking what do they do after waking up, one of the kids smartly said he goes back to sleep … During Story telling, the story goes like an apple tree gives out its fruits, branches and everything to its guardian. One smart kid asked – how come the tree remains alive after cutting all its branches …?
During the Arts and Craft session, the assigned activity was to color the picture of Ganesha. One of the kids drew "OM" on Shri Ganesha's palm.