The summer of 2005 marked a milestone event for the female wing of BAPS North America as the first annual Balika-Kishori Summer Training Camp was held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey between July 24th and August 2nd. In a time to relax and take a break from the academic demands of the school year, girls from all over North America came to the Northeast to take part in a rigorous 10-day talent enhancement experience. With the theme of “Saat Sameliya", this camp was designed to help the balikas and kishoris progress in satsang, develop their talents and abilities, and strengthen their moral character.
Each day of the camp represented a different theme that highlighted the accomplishments and strenuous efforts taken by our Gurus over the past 200 years to allow our youth the opportunity to freely practice the principles of satsang in the 21st century. In learning about these examples of selfless dedication and sacrifice, attendees came to recognize the greatness of satsang passed down throughout each succession era of our Gurus, thus realizing their own potential for further growth in satsang not only individually, but for the development of the sanstha as a whole as well.
In addition to common sessions, each balika and kishori attended two mandatory classes, and another two talent development electives on a daily basis for six full days. Mandatory classes included basic writing and public speaking (prasang varnan for balikas, nirupan for kishoris, and speech for both balikas and kishoris). Attendees chose to take any two electives from decoration, dramatic arts (dance & drama), tabla, vocal/harmonium, and multimedia/photography. A formal graduation celebration and dinner was held for all attendees on the final evening of classes to acknowledge the achievements made by each of the girls throughout the course of the camp. Attendees received certificates and smruti bhets for their hard efforts in successfully completing their courses.
Balikas and kishoris were taken on two different outings during this camp. An entire day was spent in New York City, where the girls were first taken to Radio City Music Hall to retrace the celebrations held back in July of 1996 to commemorate our sanstha’s silver jubilee in the presence of Swamishri. Additionally, they also enjoyed a bus tour of the city. Another outing was planned the following day at a nearby park where girls spent the day participating in a variety of games and team building activities. These outdoor events provided the girls with a means to develop atmiyata with one another after an exhausting week of classes.
With the aim of molding future karyakars and the leaders of tomorrow, and due to the inspiration of Param Pujya Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the 10-day training camp proved to be a successful event. With a demanding daily schedule lasting over 14 hours, including four rigorous classroom sessions a day, katha, and evening programs, attendees embraced both the challenges and opportunities of the camp with a positive attitude and the determination to achieve even greater heights.