This year ISKCON Atlanta hosted its first ever summer camp, “Atlanta Krishna Camp,” attended by 16 enthusiastic children. The week long camp was from July 20th – 27th and was held on the temple premises. The camp was possible by the vision, dedication, and commitment of a core team of devotees headed by Vedasara Das, the temple president, and a few of the local youth, namely Purna Chandra Nitai Das, Rangadevi Chakraborty, Dina Dayal Madhava Das, and Nandapriya Devi Dasi.\
These devotees understood the importance of youth development not only for the Atlanta community but for the future of ISKCON in general. The camp’s official slogan and focus was that ‘We strive to develop personal character, provide cultural enrichment and facilitate lifelong friendships.’ The classes and activities offered at the camp reflected these points.
Every day the kids attended the morning program and also led Guru Puja. Senior devotees from the congregation came by to support the kids and gave lectures on various topics practically applicable to their devotional life. They were busy throughout the day in Harmonium class, Mridanga class, Vedic mantra class and cooking class. And at the end of the day there were sports and recreations to give them a chance to release their youthful energy and have a little healthy competition.
On one of the days, the group had an outing to Six Flags, an amusement park, where they could take a break and just have fun being kids for a day.
One the final day the kids showcased what they had learned, during the Sunday Feast Program. Each child gave a five minute lecture about either a pastime of Krishna or something they learned at the camp. Then they all chanted the Siksastakam Prayers in unison and in proper meter. This was followed by a kirtan led by them and a ‘graduation ceremony.’
The camp was praised by the congregation and got very good the feedback from the parents. The children did not want to leave, and were suggesting that we make the camp month long next year! One of the parents remarked that now their two children would hold regular evening kirtans at their house and how he was pleased seeing his whole family engaged in devotional service.
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