This summer, Indian children across the North America gained a greater appreciation for ancient Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita, Ramayan, and Mahabharat. Regional camps organized by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha focusing on the theme 'Shastras - Walk the Talk,' helped children ascertain the central messages of each scripture and determine how they could be applied to their lives. The summer camps held in each region drew over 2000 participants.
Over a span of 8 days, the balaks and balikas attended a total of 8 classroom sessions taught by saints and elder youth presenters. Each session simplified the complex and esoteric concepts and messages of the scriptures into meaningful values and morals, which the children could then easily understand and integrate into their lives.
The Ramayan captures the importance of observing one's dharma - the moral code of conduct, with regards to one's parents, elders, siblings, and peers. Similarly, the value of siding with God at all times, even in moments of uncertainty and doubt was revealed by the Mahabharat. Furthermore, stories from the Upanishads, including that of Satyakam Jabali and Nachiketa, portrayed the benefits of obeying the guidance of one's Guru and respecting one's parents. These sessions were conducted in various mediums - inspiring video presentations, entertaining skits, thought-provoking discussions, and challenging games and activities. The sessions reiterated the message of how the scriptures can be a guide through life's daily challenges.
Each night ended with an evening program which recapped the day's activities with the help of humorous emcees, interactive activities with the audience, dramas, and competitions including a scavenger hunt and game night. Various team building activities were also held which helped the attendees understand the importance of teamwork and unity. The attendees also had the opportunity to enjoy performing 'samuh-puja' with fellow shibir participants.
On the last day, attendees learned how Pramukh Swami Maharaj is a living shastra because of his pure lifestyle which is devoid of worldly attachments. He embodies the values and morals of the scriptures and inspires others toward that spiritual path. Attendees shared a common feeling that they left with a greater understanding of the shastras, a deeper appreciation of its principles, and an eagerness to learn more from daily learning.