With the blessings and guidance of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, over 3,150 delegates from across North America participated in a Bal-Balika Convention with the help of 850 volunteers who helped support the convention. The BAPS North American Youth Convention (NAYC18), which centered on the theme of 'Moksha', was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Atlanta, GA from July 1 to July 4, 2018. Attendees were graced by the profound wisdom and experience of Swamis from across North America and India, including Pujya Ishwarcharandas Swami and Pujya Anandswarupdas Swami.
One of the key insights gained via research and delegate surveys prior to the convention was that most children feel that Moksha is something to be achieved at the end of life. However, the program at NAYC18 demonstrated that aligning everyday decisions with earning the grace and blessings of our Gurus is a stepping stone towards the path of Moksha. Over the three days, delegates from ages 8 to 13 learned the importance of aligning their actions at home, school, and mandir with the purpose of attaining Moksha. Throughout the convention, delegates had the opportunity to learn about the messages through two main programs.
The first program followed the lives of two balaks and their interaction with the four Purusharths (efforts) – Dharma (roles and responsibilities), Artha (worldly pursuits), Kama (desires), and Moksha (liberation). During this comprehensive program, delegates reflected on challenges that they face on a day to day basis, while also discovering practical solutions to help overcome these obstacles. Through this program, delegates learnt how to stand by their identity, do the best in their different endeavors, leave the rest up to Maharaj and Swami and finally, understand how they can earn their Guru’s rajipo through their decisions. Throughout this program, Pujya Swamis also delivered speeches centered around the core messages while also sharing their experiences and how they overcame various challenges.
The second program involved interactive group activities where delegates had the opportunity to work through different puzzles and challenges to further explore the main messages of the convention. Additional themes such as environmental stewardship, healthy habits, and the importance of community service were also highlighted during these sessions to promote character traits of being well rounded citizens of the future. With guidance and oversight from their group leads, delegates left NAYC18 with a better understanding of why the aim of Moksha is important even at their young age and equipped them with the means and inspiration to make Moksha-centered decisions in their everyday life.