As described in the Hindu shastras, Dradh Priti is the characteristic of true, profound love. Dradh priti resides atvan individual’s core, binding him or her to Bhagwan. Each year the BAPS North American Summer Camp aims to cultivate this connection in youths through a week-long summer camp. This year’s summer camp was held at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Los Angeles, CA July 3 through July 8. With more than 320 selected delegates, 300 volunteers from the US and Canada, and 30 swamis, the camp focused on enriching the relationship of the delegates with their guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Swamis and volunteers selected delegates through a thorough application process taking into consideration the candidates' academics, niyam-dharma, Satsang knowledge, and personal statements. The camp is a culmination of a rigorous two-year leadership training program. After completing the program, applicants are eligible to apply for this summer camp. The summer camp agenda had a leisurely component, but much of the schedule is designed to appeal to youths who are interested in exploring the roots of the Akshar Purushottam Upasana. Attendees participated in group discussions, and also attended workshops and lecture-style presentations that were designed to provide an immersive experience for the youths, in which they could learn and grow both their leadership skills and spirituality.
The six-day camp was broken up with two travel days, four days of the delegates participating in classroom sessions, and three days filled with outdoor activities. The classrooms served as a means to make Satsang and the guru relevant in their lives – merging the theoretical and practical examples that will be relevant to the lives of the delegates. Classrooms broke down the idea of “dradh priti” into a tangible, attainable goal for the delegates to consider. Dradh priti can be fostered by understanding the scriptural significance of unwavering love, analyzing it in the context of one’s relationship to the guru, and learning to act from that feeling in serving their guru, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. In the outdoor events, delegates participated in team building activities throughout Southern California. From historical walks in downtown Los Angeles to Crystal Cove and Huntington Beach. These outings gave delegates unique experiences and showed them how Satsang enhances experiences to make them unforgettable. One evening of the summer camp was a cookout dinner in which the delegates reflected on the experiences they had this week and discussed amongst themselves how they would carry the message home with them.
All of the attendees, who are on the verge of entering high school, 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 by sharing experiences and creating a positive spiritual environment as they make these transitions in their lives.