“Crazy Kishkindha”- Gopakuteeram Summer Camp in Dallas,TX

By the immense grace of Sri Swamiji, Dallas Gopakuteeram team conducted the first summer camp based on Ramayana theme-“Crazy Kishkintha” from July 10th to July 12th 2015. 20 children attended the camp. During the camp, the children were taught Prayer, Yoga, Bhajans, Dance, Canvas Painting and Fun Games, all revolving around the theme of Ramayana.
Day 1- Friday, July 10th 2015:
The camp started with a prayer session. This was followed by an ice-breaker game conducted by Smt. Yamini Zivan Prakash, where the children got to know each other. Then the children performed a stretching exercise in a yoga session taught by Mrs. Aruna Ram. After a short break with a healthy snack, the children learnt the kirtan – “Azhiyada Akandakara”, a kirtan composed by Sri Swamiji that invoked multitude of Gunas (properties) of Lord Hanuman.The kirtan session ended with prayers to Lord Hanuman praying to be with each one of them and guiding them in the journey of life. The kirtan session was conducted by Smt.Asha Anand and Sri.Kalyan Hariharan, ably choreographed by student volunteer Ms.Vathsalya Senapathi,who was able to teach children the Abinaya conveying the meaning of the song in a perfect manner.After lunch it was time for exploring Nava vidha Bhakthi with Smt. Hema Kalyan, who intrigued young minds on various forms of Bhakthi as shown in Ramayana. The children proved their understanding by creating posters depicting Nava Vidha Bhakthi. Chi.Sanjeev Kalyan, the student volunteer for the session ably supported the children. Then it was time for some Adzap with Sri.Sriram. The children showed their tremendous creativity by enacting advertisements for products such as Hanuman Airlines, Sanjeevani Multivitamin, Sugreeva Tae-kwon-do to name a few.
Day 2-Saturday, July 11th 2015:
Yet another fun-filled day and the morning session started right off with Yoga-off-the mat in Frisco Commons Park. This was followed by an exciting “Treasure hunt” game session where all the clues were designed creatively from Ramayana by Sri.Sriram. Once the children found the greatest treasure of all-“Satsangha”, they were made to relax and enjoy a healthy snack. Meanwhile, Smt. Aparna Vishwamithra and Smt.Lakshmi Senapathi were getting ready with Canvas and paints at Frisco Library. The children had fun painting Bal-Hanuman, and they were sure to capture His mischievous smile. After clean up and lunch, Children were deeply involved in the discussions and presentation made by Smt. Hema Kalyan on various relationships in Ramayana. These learnings can be implemented in the day to day life of children. This was followed by a creative quiz game called “Millionaire game” – modeled after famous Kaun Banega Crorepati conducted by Sri.Sriram ably supported by student volunteer, Chi.Sanjeev Kalyan. In this game children got to use phone a friend, 50:50 lifelines. The winning team was crowned as Junior Valimiki. The day ended with a Final Finale session, where it was time for children to put on a show for the eager parents. Children sang “Azhiyada Akandakara” kirtan without looking at the lyrics. This showed that if they put their mind to it, children who didn’t even know the language could sing so sweetly without any trouble
. Kudos to our Music and Dance volunteers who made this possible in a short span of time. Sri. Sriramji explained about Gopa Kuteeram, why children need it in this age and day, and about GopaKuteeram’s newly developed 9 year curriculum. Many parents showed interest in enrolling their children for the 2015-2016 GK program. Children were identified for their excellence in various activities and mementos were presented by Smt. Srividhya Krishnan an ardent devotee of our Sri Swamiji.
Day 3: Sunday,July 12th 2015:
The last day was camp started with a prayer and stretching exercises. This was followed by an Ayurvedic cooking by Smt.Viji Ramakrishnan. The children then turned into little chefs themselves and made scrumptious Muhammara dip, Zucchini pasta and Panagam. They also learnt about various Indian spices and their medicinal properties. The healthy menu was aptly chosen by Smt.Jeyanthi Dhanaraj who had made the cooking process so enjoyable and she was duly helped by Smt.Aparna Vishwamithra in guiding the children. Children who hesitated to try the veggies in the beginning, later on gobbled up everything which implies that presenting healthy foods in kid friendly way will definitely make them eat healthy. After a delicious healthy lunch the group was escorted by many volunteers to Perot Museum at Dallas Downtown, where the fun continued. Chi.Anirudh Garg, student volunteer, helped in taking around the children inside the museum. The children had lots of fun learning about many things and participated in many hands-on learning sessions like trying robotic cars, oil rig and earth quake simulations, Animal Exhibits and other science based activities. Dallas Gopakuteeram summer camp came to an end, with children wanting to come back for yet another camp, sooner than next summer!
This camp was made possible by the sheer grace of Sri Swamiji and G.O.D volunteers-Sri Muraliji, Sri.Vinay Shenoy, Sri.Sriram, Sri.Zivan Prakash, Sri.Kalyan, Sri.Vara Senapathy, Smt.Hema Kalyan, Smt.Yamini, Smt.Asha Anand, Smt.Aparna Vishwamitra, Smt.Lakshmi Senapathy, Smt.Booma, Smt.Aruna Ram, Smt.Viji, Smt.Jeyanthi Dhanaraj, Sri.Dhanaraj. Student volunteers- Chi.Sanjeev, Chi.Chinmay , Chi.Anirudh and Ms.Vaathsalya) and the enthusiastic children and encouraging parents.

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