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Ten days of staying at a mandir without ever glancing at a television set can be a daunting task for any child especially during their summer vacation. Sixty balaks did just that by attending the first BAPS National Bal Summer Training Camp themed “Adarsh: Now and Forever” held in Edison, New Jersey. In order for these balaks to attain this level, the sants and bal karyakars had set up various activities ranging from classrooms to workshops, and even camping in the woods.

The classrooms consisted of sants and karyakars teaching the balaks basic history and fundamental concepts about the Sanstha. Topics ranging from “Upasana” to “Tolerance” were presented in a simple manner for them to comprehend. Before the camp started, the attendees were asked to choose two different workshops from a choice of the following six: Decoration, Writing, Audio-Video, Cooking, Graphic Design and Public Speaking. Designed to advance their skills in these specific areas, the workshops enabled them to go back to their respective centers and practically apply their skills in the mandir and at home. In order to advance their musical talents, harmonium and tabla classes were held. These classes functioned to provide them with basic music skills which they can then build upon once they return to their respective centers. In order to add to their enjoyment, each night they had an opportunity to participate in unique evening programs consisting of interactive skits, game shows, and many others. In addition to this tightly packed schedule, each day also consisted of a sports competition in which the groups competed in basketball, ultimate frisbee, and various other sports. To enhance their experience, the balaks received went on a three-day camping trip. At the campsite the balaks participated in various team-building activities and competitive programs including a scavenger hunt, an obstacle course, and night excursions through the woods.

Due to the grace and inspiration of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj, this training camp turned out to be a huge success. Only through Swamibapa’s vast amount of love for these children, combined with the balaks’ drive to please our guru, could these sixty kids voluntarily sacrifice their summer vacation.

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