Dradh Priti is the characteristic of true profound love, as described in the Hindu shastras. Based on the theme, Dradh Priti, the second annual BAPS North American Summer Camp was held from July 2nd to 11th. Over 250 delegates, and over 100 volunteers from the US and Canada participated in the event that took place in San Jose, California. The primary focus of the camp was to enrich the relationship of the attendees with Guru Pramukh Swami.
Swamis and volunteers selected delegates through a rigorous application process that took consideration into account candidates' academics, niyam-dharma, Satsang knowledge, and their personal statements. These selected attendees participated in classrooms, discussions, programs, and outings that were designed to provide an immersive experience for the youths to learn and grow in their spirituality. The classrooms served as a means to make satsang and satpurush relevant in their lives. Classrooms broke down the idea of dradh priti into tangible goals for them to aspire towards: understanding the scriptural basis behind the concept, implementing it in their lives, using it to become ambassadors for the sanstha, and finally, directing it towards the satpurush, Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Elective clubs, like a capella, film, ‘the improv’ helped older delegates understand their options for extracurricular activities in college and taught them how to tie their talents to satsang. Delegates participated in a series of evening programs that engaged them to use creativity to apply dradh priti in their daily lives. The summer camp took learning beyond the classrooms and discussions too – into the heart of San Francisco, where delegates crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on foot and encountered the prasadi sthaans where Pramukh Swami Maharaj had visited. Delegates also traveled to The Tech Museum of Innovation, where they engaged interactively with science and technology. Delegates explored major national landmarks: hiked at Lake Tahoe, picnicked and played sports at Carmel Beach, and hiked through Muir Woods. To make these trips memorable, each group documented their journey in a digital photo journal. These outings gave delegates life-long bucket list experiences and showed them how Satsang enhances experiences to make them unforgettable.
The delegates learned the bhakti rituals that occurred everyday in order to make bhakti more meaningful and practical to daily life. Of the nine day camp, one day, the delegates participated in a fast without any food or water. Delegates were occupied all day long with kirtan-bhakti challenges and seva to show the attendees how constantly engaging in seva and bhakti while fasting livens the experience. On this day, Swamis spoke with delegates one-on-one about their academics and niyam-dharma.
The final evening of the summer camp was a gala dinner. The clubs and groups entertained and showcased their talents to rest of the attendees. The a cappella club performed musical pieces without using any instruments. The film club created a documentary about different activities that took place during NSC. Lastly, the improv club performed glimpses of the NSC experience. These different clubs served not only as entertainment for the attendees that were watching, but also served as a medium to show how one can achieve dradh priti.
In all, the attendees, all of whom are on the verge of entering either high school or college, made the most of their time with Swamis, senior volunteers, and like-minded peers to understand how they could stay grounded in their spirituality as they begin a new chapter in their lives. With the new bonds of friendship created, attendees will be able to continue to motivate each other throughout high school and college by sharing experiences and creating a positive satsang environment even when they are away from home.