Gopa Kuteeram Summer Camp at Houston Weeks 1 & 2

Week 1

The 8-week long summer program by Houston GOD started off with a blast on June 29 2011 at Houston Namadwaar. With 24 children aged between 8 and 15, the camp was booked to capacity. The camp will be held every Wednesday for 8 weeks in a row from June 29 to Aug 17.

On the first day, the participants came in with a question mark on their faces… most of them were new to Namadwaar and Gopa Kuteeram, and they didn’t know what to expect. But by the end of the first day, they were all extremely happy, excited and looking forward to the remaining 7 weeks filled with fun and friends.

The schedule for the first day began with Tri-Yoga, a three-fold Yoga workout for the body, mind and soul. Half the group set off for a stimulating Exercise Yoga session with Yoga teacher Dr. K. B. Singh, while the other half focused on exercising their minds first with Shravana Yoga conducted by Zenitha Ram. As Dr. Singh had the children stretching their bodies to extents they would not have imagined they were capable of, Zeniji was helping the kids practice the art of fine listening… a skill that is the foundation of a life filled with love and care. After 20 mins, the groups swapped places for another 20 minutes of Exercise Yoga and Shravana Yoga. Following this, all the children headed into Namadwaar for Nama Yoga meditation.

After a quick snack break and an introduction to writing a regular Gratitude Log that will be reviewed every week, it was time for “Let’s Play” game time. Sriram Ramanujam conducted a Block and Tackle game where 5 groups vied with each other to connect 4 squares in a row by answering questions based on our scriptures, Puranas, India and culture.

The final event was the special workshop of the day, Photography. After an initial theory session where Ram Subramanian, the expert instructor, showed contrasting photographs and explained the basics of photography and the nuances of clicking vibrant pictures, the children were let loose with their cameras. The theme was “The Five Elements”. A couple of rooms in the Namadwaar house were set up with props. One was a “Fire Room” with candles and tealights arranged beautifully and in artistic holders. Another room had idols of Krishna (made of Earth), flowers with dew drops (Water), and also a basin of water with flowers. An “earthen” Buddha and other props were also placed outside in the Namadwaar grounds. The kids had a fantastic time clicking photographs both indoors and outdoors. They got some great, surprising shots of vibrant colors, patterns, figurines, people and nature. The photos will be displayed in the Namadwaar house through the duration of the camp.

Dinner on Day 1 was sponsored by Domino’s and Papa John’s Pizza, while Shiv Sagar restaurant provided samosas for snack time.

Photos of Week 1 at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.157631164308580.40808.100001850918848

Week 2

Day 2 of the Gopa Kuteeram camp was another exciting fun-filled time for the campers. As usual, they started off with Tri-Yoga. This was followed by the week’s special workshop on Origami. Under the expert guidance of Gayathri Venkataraghavan, a creative craft and recycling expert from the Houston area, the kids worked on making beautiful gift boxes by simply folding paper. Gayathriji also showed the children how to make the same boxes using newspapers and magazines, and explained the importance of showing gratitude to Mother Earth by recycling newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, etc. She also shared some great project ideas to make other beautiful, imaginative hand-made crafts without spending a penny, using material available in everybody’s home.

Next up was game time with Sriramji. This time it was a game based along the lines of “Family Feud” except the “survey” questions were all related to our Itihasas, Puranas, the camp, India and Houston too. The children then shared their Gratitude Logs for the week. They were also introduced to the Song of Values, composed by GOD Australia team members, which they will learn during the course of the camp, and also to the Prahlada story, both of which they will perform during the final camp presentation on Aug 20.

Sponsors this week included Jamba Juice for smoothies and Olive Garden for dinner.

Photos of Week 2 at: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.161325963939100.41546.100001850918848

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