The first International CHYK Camp was held from December 25th 2006 to January 1st 2007 at Chinmaya International Residential School. Swami Swaroopananda led the camp with Br. Rishi Chaitanya, with the help of 3 Yuvaveers and a team of CIRS staff. The topic was ‘7 Days, 7 Powers’ and CHYKs from around the world gathered to experience the 7 powers that were represented by 7 deities. Youth from Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia, Kenya, UK, and India all attended in full force.
On each day, the power that is invoked within us by worship of a particular deity, was explored through a range of activities. These ranged from the artistic to intellectual, and from sporting to devotional. Through the process of daily immersion in the special characteristics of the Lord, we came to appreciate and be mindful of the living presence of each deity- both in ourselves and in the beauty of nature. There was never a spare moment, nor one that did not inspire and engage fully. Many new subject areas were tried out by all the CHYKs – clay modelling of divine moortis, rangoli painting, raas, and garba. Guided pooja, meditation, vedic chanting, and havans were conducted with precise instruction. Music, dance, raps, and skits, were created and performed. Our courage and stamina was duly developed and tested in the sporting challenges. There was an abundance of talks, films, discussions, mental exercises and presentations. Every facet of each individual’s personality was given expression under the guidance, warmth, and grace of the Acharyas, staff, and volunteers. All the activities made one thing clear- the more one took part and gave oneself to the attempt, the more one gained from the exercises.
One festival for each deity was celebrated day by day, throughout the week. Ganesh Chathurti opened the camp and marked the beginning of 7 days of a fully packed schedule of activities. As Swamiji predicted, this resulted in seeing the Lord in one’s surroundings.
Amongst many highlights of the week, undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable is the celebration of Diwali. Full reign was given to the CHYKs who were let loose with an abundant supply of fireworks, while Ravana was burnt fiercely in the background. Similarly, Holi was marked by CHYKs surrendering their weaknesses to the fire, and experiencing a total ‘abishek’ of rainbow coloured powders. The culmination of all the festivals that were celebrated fell on New Year’s Eve 2006, when Swamiji led us to celebrate Janmashtami with a midnight pooja and Raas Leela. He urged us to drop all intellectual pride completely, so as to be empty and let Lord Krishna’s divine flute music flow through us in our lives. Swamiji also danced raas garba with the CHYKs, just as Krishna danced with the circle of gopis.
New Year’s morning was marked with the Vishnu Sahasra Naama pooja shortly before the camp delegates dispersed – some heading back home, and others to tour India further.
It was truly a unique opportunity for CHYKs to meet other like-minded individuals from around the world. It pooled ideas, talents, and energy- creating an intense, joyful, and uplifting atmosphere. The lasting impact of Swamiji and Br Rishiji’s words, along with the stretching of each individual’s comfort zone, made the ‘7 Days, 7 Powers’ camp a very fulfilling experience.
The immense input from every person, both the planners and the participants, combined to create a field of devotion and intellectual stimulation. Many strong links and new friendships were forged as the full picture of living as a ‘CHYK’ emerged over the 7 days.
In fact, so loving was the care and the personal attention to detail given in advance to every aspect of the camp, that the lasting feeling one took away was that we were actually Swamiji’s and Gurudev’s own Balvihar children. We wanted to teach our own Balvihars, and reach out to all other youth to include them in CHYK activities – it was simply too rich an experience not to share.
Thus, 70 of Gurudev’s ambassadors left the International Camp bathed in support and love. Now ready for the opportunity of a fresh start in 2007, all those who attended the first Global CHYK Camp were fully empowered with renewed inspiration and energy to reach the goal.