On Friday 29 April 2011, 188 balaks and balikas as well as 55 karyakars embarked on the BAPS Sunday School Residential Camping Trip to Kingswood Outdoor Activity Centre, Kent. Four months of meticulous planning by the core team involved two site visits, parent meetings, karyakar meetings in addition to ongoing consultations with the bal-balikas themselves regarding the activities, resulting in a real team effort.
Karyakars welcomed and greeted the children upon their arrival at the London Mandir from 6.30am. The children arrived with plenty of excitement and completed an ‘airport style’ check-in process before boarding the coaches. At 7:30am, all five coaches departed the Mandir for a fun-filled journey.
On arrival at Kingswood Grosvenor Hall, the children cheered with excitement as the coaches glided past the stunning views. Kingswood staff greeted the party. The balikas were welcomed by Laura and the balaks by Alex – their leaders for the trip and began with a string of fun-filled ice-breaker games at two venues.
During the three days, the children experienced and challenged themselves with ten different activities. There were a range of activities to help build every child’s self confidence, fight their fears, come out of their shells and become true leaders who could embrace any challenge. The activities included quad biking, Zipwire, Jacob’s Ladder, wall climbing, abseiling, 3G swing, Aero Ball, fencing, and indoor and outdoor laser.
The evening activity on the first day included raas-garba for balikas and sing-a-long songs sung by the Kingswood staff around a softly lit camp-fire with riddles and fun for balaks. The evening ended with the arti. Following a delicious dessert, the children proceeded to their rooms to rest for the evening.
The next day began at 6:30am with samuha puja for balaks and similarly for balikas, followed by arti. A short sabha was conducted by Anandpriya Swami who spoke about reinforcing our daily rituals explaining that they were building blocks to mould one’s character.
It was another memorable day packed with more team-building fun, challenging activities and football in free time slots. The balikas enjoyed a campfire whilst the balaks had a laughter-filled culture night with golden memories and a talent show.
Sunday was the final day which included activities and a sabha at Kingswood sports hall which included a vote of thanks for all participants, organisers and staff. Manojbhai reflected upon the improvements the children could make towards their personal all-round development on a practical level summarising with an acronym: “DR PC” = Discipline, Respect, Patience and Cleanliness.
Manoharmurti Swami addressed the assembly by telling the children that just as they had overcome their fears and completed the various challenges during the trip, they must also overcome various challenges in life to excel in Satsang. Using a small demonstration, he explained that we should make the most of the opportunities we get.
As the trip came to an end, final group photographs were taken in front of the activities zone before everyone boarded the coaches to return to the Mandir.
Below is a selection of some of the comments and opinions of the balaks and balikas.
I have no words to describe the trip.
It helped me overcome my fears and build my confidence.
I got to learn skills which I can apply in my daily life.
I became closer to my sanchalikas and other balikas.
I really enjoyed myself and really appreciate the entire organisation of the trip.
I look forward to the next one.
The experience, fun and laughter that everyone enjoyed made this a trip of a lifetime, moments which will remain etched in their memories forever.