As the director of Khalsa Youth Camp (KYC) for over 25 years, I feel more than ever the responsibility to do what I can to pass on the direct teachings and vision of the Siri Singh Sahib (Yogi Bhajan) for our camp. I enjoy working collaboratively with other committed and talented people for the purpose of maintaining the quality of our summer camp’s experience for all the children who have the huge opportunity to join us at Ram Das Puri for Khalsa Youth Camp 2012.
A Unique Spiritual Camp
During one of his summer visits to KYC, I once asked the Siri Singh Sahib, “What kind of camp do you want?” He responded, “I don’t want a camp that pampers to the egos of our children. We must prepare them as leaders for the Aquarian Age. We must teach these children the Khalsa spirit and values so they can meet any adversity in life with confidence and grace.” It was my job to help make his teachings a reality.
If you visit our Khalsa Youth Camp web site you can read about the activities we provide for a full 2 week camp experience that supports the spirit and values of Khalsa. Every morning begins with a cold rinse and group yoga and meditation specially designed for children 4-12 years old. The campers then walk into their Gurdwara where they actively participate in learning about our lifestyle and the Guru’s teachings. I’m very honest with the campers. I explain to them that all the other fun and challenging daily activities we have at camp are just to get them to return next summer for the Sadhana and Gurdwara!
The bedtime routine is also a special time for children. We take advantage of this time by coming together in our different age groups to meditate and participate in what we call “CPR” or Circle of Power and Respect. It is a time for them to listen and share with their peers with support from our trained camp guides.
We have a lot to offer parents and I could fill up pages of testimonials from those who have sent their children to KYC over the years with comments such as, “My child came home singing uplifting camp songs and taught them to us!” and “My child now wants us to do yoga with him!” Last summer several campers completed a 40 day meditation and received a special t-shirt for their efforts.
It’s not unusual for a child to go home after camp with a sense of renewal and stronger spiritual identity. The children of Sikh parents who come to camp get the opportunity to experience their personal relationship to Sikhism and receive a deeper understanding of this sacred path. Those considering going to Miri Piri Academy will have a foundation of what they can expect to experience. Once the Siri Singh Sahib asked if we could “bring what we do at KYC to Miri Piri.” Guides who have worked at KYC and at Miri Piri have done just that.
God and Me, Me and God, are One
Not unlike Sikh Dharma, KYC welcomes all children. Regardless of their faith, campers feel welcomed and grow as spiritual beings. Campers would often ask the Siri Singh Sahib questions when he visited. Once a child asked whether Sikhism was a better religion than his own. Siri Singh Sahib answered by saying, “There are many paths to God. You and God are one. Don’t let others tell you different.”
The Siri Singh Sahib wanted every child to be acknowledged for their achievements during camp. We send them home with KYC Leadership Awards that describe the leadership behaviors they demonstrated and will soar with in life.
Khalsa Youth Camp CD
KYC is not just about beliefs and values. It’s also about fun, making new friends, and for some, working through personal challenges. The theme for this summer’s Khalsa Youth Camp will be chanting and singing songs of the spirit so they can “Be Free to be Me.” Snatam Kaur and I will be recording songs and chants from Khalsa Youth Camp with the children who are fortunate to stay the full 2 weeks. I strongly encourage parents and guardians to arrange their time and finances to send their children for the full two week session this summer. Spirit Voyage is supporting this KYC fundraiser and your child will be part of KYC history!
Snatam Kaur teaching children, “When things get down and darkest that’s when we stand tallest,” exemplifies the Khalsa Spirit. Every summer the campers are challenged to keep up, and honestly they always inspire the staff to do the same with their shinning faces and positive attitudes. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding camp. With the Grace of God I will see your children again this summer at Khalsa Youth Camp 2012.
SiriNam Singh Khalsa, MAEd, is an Instructional Leader in a large urban public school district and has taught in schools for 25-plus years. He is a yoga instructor, musician and the author of several educational books as well as a recipient of the “Distinguished Teacher Award.” This year he was awarded “Coach of the Year” for coaching his son’s 7-8 grade basketball team. SiriNam lives in Leverett, MA, with his wife Kirn Kaur and is a father to three children. Under the guidance of Yogi Bhajan, SiriNam has served as Khalsa Youth Camp Director for over 25 years. Contact him at [email protected]