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The Southeast region of Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha held a unique Family Camp from June 13 through June 15, 1999 at Lake Eufaula, Alabama. More than 630 family members, both young and old, participated in this first regional event which attracted members from as far as Miami to Jackson, MS. The 3-day event was meticulously planned and executed with the help of 30 dedicated volunteers from BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Clarkston, GA. At a time when family values are fast eroding in American society, the spiritual leader of BAPS, His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, has inspired families to unite and work together. The aim of the camp was not only to strengthen family bonds, but also to find valid answers to some of life's toughest questions. More and more parents find their children unmanageable. More and more kids see their parents as obsolete, impossible to understand. A research reports: An average couple spends only 17 minutes in conversation each week! Our families have become fragile, fracturing at the smallest doubt or disturbance. Parents are spending so few hours with their children that it results into their children feeling neglected and easily involved in addictions. Our homes turn into being just walls, roofs and furniture with no room for love and care. This was the loud message conveyed through the presentation on "Family Unity," one of the many inspiring sessions in the camp. Parents learned the importance of understanding one another in family life. The presentation on "Parent and Child" taught parents how to "fit in and let go" with their children in order to bridge the generation gap while still adhering to their strong cultural background. The family camp was not only organized to help parents, but to inspire the younger generation too. 160 children between the ages of 6-14 and 130 youths between the ages of 15-25 attended the camp. They learned through lively lectures and multimedia presentations how to respect their parents, one of the most important family values in Indian culture. The youngsters were reminded of their cultural roots and to value spirituality as a potent force in keeping family solidarity: "A family that prays together, stays together." The youngsters were so inspired that many vowed to keep away from harmful habits such as drugs, alcohol, and bad company. Instead, they resolved to pray daily and take up constructive activities. It is encouraging to see that the BAPS youth are naturally groomed in self-discipline and duty, especially at a time when many American cities are trying to curb youth violence through elaborate and costly programs. There was also a special evening for the women in which they addressed their particular needs and performed a variety of entertaining cultural programs such as folk dances, dramas, speeches and a quiz show. The Family Camp was a huge success, and many members vowed to come again next year. BAPS is organizing family camps such as this one in 5 different regions throughout the United States this summer with the spiritual guidance of 10 young, learned sadhus. Three of them are visiting sadhus from London's famous Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in England

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