Contributed by: Yogesh Subramanian

Chinmaya Mission Brisbane held its annual children’s holiday camp on “Lord Ganesha – Success Giver” with Swami Shrikarananda at Acacia Ridge Community Hall on 28th/29th June 2016.  The children had a great time and were keen to learn more.  We therefore invite you and your family to attend our upcoming annual family retreat to be held during the first weekend of September school holidays on the 16-18 September 2016. Please visit our website www.chinmaya.com.au  for additional details of our activities and future programs.

The following is a first-hand account by 11-year-old Yogesh Subramanian who attended the children’s camp.

Day 1

Morning session

We discovered our groups and played ice breakers. There were a mix of children of different ages in all the groups and playing ice-breakers really helped us understand each other and begin to be friends. After ice-breakers was over we started off with an exciting game. Well, it was a game for Swamiji but for us the game was a test of our creativity. Swamiji named our groups with animals, there were cows, cats, dogs, monkeys, and chickens. We were the cows. We had to put together a dance in 10-15 minutes about our animal. Our group huddled up together and brainstormed what cows would do and what is done to them. We came up with that they are milked and they moo. We imitated a cow gleefully and presented in front of the other groups. During this camp we had a point system and there were prizes for high points, points were earned by doing out of the ordinary. The teams were then given names of Ganesha as this camp was about Lord Ganesha, “the Success Giver.” The names were Ekadanta, Omkara, Lambodara, Vinayaka, and Gajanana. Vinayaka was the dogs and their act was something to commend so they achieved 20 points and the other teams were also awarded points based on their effort. After a short break, we did our opening prayers and began with a story, Swamiji’s special. The first story was about the birth of Ganesha, he completely engaged us in the fascinating story about Ganesha’s birth. . After that he told us about some of Ganesha’s other adventures and by then it was time for role play practice. Role Play was an integral part of this camp; it earned us many points and was very fun and interesting. Swamiji picked a story from our Camp Booklet, for each team. We had to prepare and perform a role play based on the allocated story. We started working and designing and scripting our role play. When our first role play session was over we had morning tea, it was dee-licious.

Middle session

During the middle session, we continued listening to the amazing storyteller Swamiji narrate to us some of Ganesha’s most amazing stories. We understood morals of the story and how we should apply it into our daily life. We discussed day to day problems and their solution based on the stories of Lord Ganesha. We also learned a Ganapati prayer and bhajan. In no time at all it was lunchtime. We had some amazing Indian food cooked by the sevaks and helpers themselves.

Last session

After lunch, we gave our tummies a rest and listened to one more story before we created our very own Ganesha obstacle-remover box.  Then, we marched happily down to the park for the Balvihar Olympics. This was a sports competition where there were many activities set up by the Junior and Senior CHYKS which also got our team many points. We all tried our best and when the Olympics finished we walked back to the venue and took a group photo and had some afternoon tea after some activities. There was nothing that wasn’t brilliant about the first day of Ganesha Camp with the most beloved Swami Shrikarananda.

Day 2

Morning session

The second day started off with a bang as Priya Aunty showed us some yoga exercises. We did stretching and balancing exercises and much more. By then Swamiji had arrived so we did our opening prayers and began with a story. Swamiji began with another one of Ganesha’s adventures. One of them was about how the moon god was punished by Ganesha for teasing harmfully. He also narrated to us a story about a boy and how he had seen Ganesha in real life after a camp like we were attending right now. We listened attentively sucking in every detail of the story.  Immediately after that, we set to work on our role-plays with only minimum time left.  We practiced and scripted and so on. The role plays were starting to come together. By that time, it was morning tea.

Middle session

During the middle session, we practiced the bhajan we had learnt the day before and did the actions as well. After that, Swamiji gave us some time to look at our camp booklets because we were meant to have a quiz later. When the practice time was over we sat in our groups and waited for the quiz to begin. For the quiz, there were written answer questions and there were also questions that required drawing and labelling. We also had questions for which we had to be the first person to put their hand up to answer. The quiz was fun and time passed by.  Then it was time for lunch. Lunch was pasta and pizza. During lunch, we also watched a movie about Ganesha and his fantastic adventures.

Last session

In the last session we had one last story and then we had our very last role play practice. After the role play practice, it was time for the real performance and parents were invited. The role plays were original and amazing. They were all written with the zenith of our bubbling creativity.  The parents enjoyed watching our performances.  Now it was time for convocation and announcement of the winners – 5th Gajanana 4th Ekadanta 3rd Omkara 2nd Lambodara 1st Vinayaka. We were all winners nonetheless. After that, prizes for outstanding camp participants was announced and certificates presented. We finished off with afternoon tea and then it was time to leave. The Great Lord Ganesha Camp was a grand success, thanks to the “Success Giver.

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