As described in the Hindu shastras, Dradh Priti is the characteristic of true profound love. Dradh priti resides at an individual’s core, binding him or her to Bhagwan. This year’s BAPS North American Summer Camp aimed to cultivate this connection in youths through a seven-day summer camp held in Chicago, Illinois between July 6th – 13th. With 232 selected delegates, over 200 volunteers from the US and Canada, and 25 swamis, the camp focused on enriching the relationship of the attendees 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 4 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 was designed to appeal to youths who are interested in exploring the roots of the Akshar-Purshottam 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 eight day camp was broken up with two travel days, three 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 satpurush relevant in their lives – merging the theoretical with the practical. 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 satpurush, and learning to act from that feeling in serving their guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, through seva. In the outdoor events, delegates participated in team building activities ranging from a scavenger hunt in downtown Chicago to organized sports at Riverbend Community Park. Delegates also went on two hikes: at the Indiana Beach Dunes and at the Botanical Gardens. To make these trips memorable, each group documented their journey in a digital photo journal. 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 gala dinner. During the conclusion program, delegates recapped the classroom sessions, reflected on the lessons learned, and created personal goals to pursue moving forward.
All of the attendees, who 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 spiritual environment as they make these transitions in their lives.