Sikh Youth Camp in Indiana

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Written By Gurujot Singh and Gian Dharam Kaur Khalsa

Parminder Kaur invited Guruka Singh us to teach in a 3+ day Sikh youth camp in Indianapolis Indiana but he couldn’t make it, so he asked me if I could go with my wife. When we started dialoging with her we realized that she intended us to be the only teachers in a camp with 50-80 kids, so we decided to bring Hari Simran on board. It sounded challenging because none of us had ever been the exclusive teachers  of a camp before. So we started making a curriculum, and in no time we were off.

We wanted the kids to be very active, so in the mornings we did 1.5 hours of Kundalini Yoga, stretching, and meditations, and in afternoons about 2 hours of Gatka. We pushed them physically and even though they were sore, they kept coming back. It was nice to see the parents who were present also doing the yoga. But my personal favorite was seeing the Raagis and the Gurdwara President doing the yoga perfectly right on the first day.

From 50-80 we ended up having 100 kids, which was such a blessing! But thank God we so much support from the Sevadars to help manage the schedule and the children.

We brought with us the new English translation of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib from Sikhnet, <http://www.sikhnet.com/GuruTranslation> and taught the kids how to take personal Hukams. We broke up into 4 smaller groups to do this, as well as some other games and activities throughout the camp. Thanks to Parminder Kaur for leading one of those groups with us. She had lots of good input from all of her camp-leading experience.

We told stories of the Gurus, and we shared a lot of Yogi ji’s teachings which helped explain everything about the Sikh lifestyle, and give us practical know-how and inspiration.

We talked a lot about the spiritual sciences behind things like hair, turban, and the vibrational power of the Shabad Guru. After we talked about hair being an energy antennae for the body, one child, about 7 years old exclaimed, “So, it’s like a solar panel! It absorbs energy and puts it into your body.” He said it better than we could, which was so heart warming.

What the kids liked a lot was the Q&A time with us. We also talked to the teenagers separately, boys with Hari Simran Singh and myself, and girls with Gian Dharam Kaur, which was important to talk to them on their level and address the issues they are facing.

We really encouraged the Sangat to create a children’s program at every Sunday Divaan. <see video attached> This is to really help the kids feel involved in the Gurdwara. We also encouraged the use of English translations especially for the Hukamnama. This way everybody can understand the Gurus message better, because being able to speak Punjabi doesn’t give one the ability to understand Gurbani.

One evening we had a meeting with the parents who had some concerns about how to pass Sikhi down to their children. A difficulty was expressed of Indian parents raising their children in America. We tried to help them cover this cultural gap, and approach their children in a way that the kids can listen to. Our conversation went to many places from diet to peer pressure.

Another evening, we had a meeting with the young adults in the community who were too old for the camp. Their challenges had a lot to do with keeping on the path of Sikhi. Many of them have cut their hair, and feel looked down upon by the Sangat. Others had challenges with holding the identity of Sikhism, and others with holding a discipline. We tried to address all of these concerns with practical advice.

We weren’t sure how well the Sangat would receive the yoga, and different perspective we bring, but everyone seemed so open and we felt they were thirsty for Yogi ji’s teachings.

It was an amazing experience to be teaching and inspiring kids. They seemed very happy about it. We had so much fun and we loved being with them. The first day we were there, the Gurdwara president invited us to come back in July. The hospitality that was shown to us was humbling. We felt so connected to our spiritual family that we had only met a few days before. The loving feeling of connectedness is hard to put in words. It was difficult to say good-bye. The good thing is, we’ll see them again soon!


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