Around twenty-five young persons attended a residential youth camp organized by ISKCON Youth Forum Varchha in Surat, which had a unique activity-based format of learning, modelled using techniques from the Institute of Education at the University of London.
“The camp taught the same key messages of the Bhagavad-gita to a young audience, but instead of long lectures, we had a range of activities and games, which enabled them to learn the same lessons in a format that was engaging and fun,” explained Murtimaan Das, General Manager of ISKCON Varachha. “These techniques are based on training styles taught at the University of London’s premiere educational training institute to Romapada Das, who designed our learning modules.”
Young persons participated enthusiastically in various activities, games, workshops, skits and discussions to learn lessons such as the real goal of life, how to solve material problems with a spiritual perspective, the value of relationships, and where to find ‘true love’.
“We live in a world where most young people are digital natives: born into an era of social media and video games,” said Romapada Das. “Their attention spans have shrunk considerably, and we need to adopt and change teaching techniques to suit their needs. Hence, our initial camp, called Samanvay has no lectures, and only activity-based learning. The trainer never speaks for more than 10 minutes at a time. Young people who graduate out of the first camp, go on to our other camps such as Sambandha, Samrakshana and Samarpana, where lectures are incrementally a bit more than in the previous camp.”
The youth camps are a part of a wider initiative to customize and change the youth outreach model all over the Indian state of Gujarat.
“We have had a series of meetings with youth outreach devotees from all over Gujarat,” concluded Romapada Das. “We are in the process of creating a Strategic Action Plan for Gujarat, and hope this will take youth outreach here to the next level. This is in keeping with Srila Prabhupada’s own vision for Gujarat as he often said that Gujaratis were naturally born as Vaishnavas, and it is as easy to preach Krishna consciousness in this place, as it is to set fire to dry grass.”[ education ] [ surat ]