To make the most of the summer break this year, the UK Bal-Balika Mandal organised a fun and educational summer camp for over forty selected children. The National Bal-Balika Summer Training Camp 2010 began on Monday 26 July 2010 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, and ran for ten days; seven days at the Mandir and the remaining three days at Frylands Wood Campsite in South London for the balikas and at Gilwell Activity Centre in Chingford for the balaks.
Throughout the seven days at the Mandir, the children enjoyed morning discourses focusing on various virtues from the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj that are particularly relevant to them in their lives at this stage.
A number of other morning sessions helped them to advance their knowledge of Hinduism and the Swaminarayan tradition. Yogvivek Swami, for example, provided an enlightening series of presentations on the Akshar-Purushottam Upasana.
Many of the sessions also relied on audience participation. Lively debates and panel discussions on topical subjects were organised where experienced panelists expressed different viewpoints to carefully challenge and enhance the understanding of the children.
Manoharmurti Swami conducted useful classes on communication skills and public speaking. These boosted the children’s confidence and ability to speak in front of others. These skills were also applied practically when they were given opportunities to guide visitors around the Mandir complex. The children were also provided with an enjoyable and interactive seven-day course on learning Gujarati, with immediate results.
Daily introspection presentations from various karyakars helped inform the attendees on how to personally improve in various fields of life, ranging from regularity to Satsang Reading to even anger management. Daily sessions on contemporary issues incorporated role play and interactive presentations to help the children deal with modern day challenges.
The children also participated in other interesting group activities which tested their intelligence, dexterity and creativity, such as building parachutes with basic materials found around the home. The treasure hunt around the Mandir complex was especially fun and memorable, and also mixed fun with Satsang knowledge.
One evening session was dedicated to education. Paramtattva Swami and Amar Parekh emphasised the value of a solid, broad foundation in one’s education and the need to excel at a higher level. They also provided further guidance in an insightful Q&A session. Thereafter, members of the Mandir’s education department presented a helpful session to the children on studying and revision tips.
The children were also fortunate to have a session with Brahmavihari Swami. He urged them to think of the future and aspire for excellence in their personal and spiritual lives.
The attendees also practised daily Hindu rituals and enjoyed participating in various types of supervised seva. And of course, there were plenty of sports and games; basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, dodge ball, and even carom all provided useful exercise and recreation.
The final part of the Summer Camp for the balikas was a three-day camping trip at Frylands Wood Campsite in South London. Here they enjoyed tackling an assault course, climbing the Jacob’s Ladder, and other challenging activities. The balaks similarly enjoyed three days at Gilwell Activity Centre where they too engaged in many challenging activities, including aeroball, crate stacking, and braving an aerial zipwire and leap of faith.
The ten-day Summer Training Camp provided a fun and valuable way for the children to use their summer holidays productively, learning key skills, enhancing important values, and gaining inspiration and guidance for their studies.