By Jaspreet Kaur Boparoy
Check out the Official Photos here!
Once again, SYA has proven that there is no better start to the year than the annual Sikh Youth Australia Summer Camp. From beginning to end, the camp was a haven for fostering spiritual growth and understanding between young and old alike. The camp started off smoothly, with all the participants introducing themselves to their jathas, or 'groups'. Over the course of the camp, the campers bonded within their jathas through fierce competition with other jathas.
Then there were the facilitators. In addition to our old camp favourites, Giani Sukhdaiv Singh from Malaysia, Veer Manpreet Singh from the UK and Professor Jaswant Singh from Singapore, this camp saw the introduction of several new facilitators, including Jasbir Singh from Singapore (Zero Limits Alaska), Jaspreet Singh from New Delhi and Harinder Singh from the US (Sikh Research Institute). These highly educated and motivational people facilitated many age-group discussions and Inspirational Sessions, focusing on the overall theme of the camp, ‘Vand Ke Shakna’, or ‘Sharing and Caring’. Uncle Surinderjeet also presented incisive Sikh History lectures focussed on the significance of Amritsar.
The junior youths - Mighty Khalsa (under 8 years) and Bahadur Bachey (8-12 years) - also had a new curriculum structure. A great outcome was the involvement of a number of the senior youths in running these inspirational and fun programs. The youths included Sundeep, Gobind, Jaideep, Banipreet, Sarbjoth, Gurpreet, Devpaal and Prabpreet. The juniors also all learnt the Panj Pauria of Japji Sahib with Uncle Charanpal and did yoga in the mornings with Auntie Jessie.
Jasbir teaching youth the importance of teamwork!
The age-group sessions allowed for a deeper understanding of Sikhism, as facilitators were able to tailor their message to suit the needs of specific age groups. These sessions ranged from the traditional lecture style, with power point presentations, to full blown age-group discussions and debates on various issues relating to Sikhi. This was built upon on the third night, with the 16+ Q&A session with a panel of facilitators (Veer Manpreet, Giani Ji, Professor Jaswant and Harinder Singh). The discussion was highly engaging with questions ranging from the ‘Sikh view’ on contemporary ethical issues to the idea of ‘Who is a Sikh’ were brought up. The junior Q & A session also raised a number of current issues facing young Sikhs growing up in Australia with a similar panel.
Lunch, finally! A time to mingle and make friends
But the camp was not all academic discussions! There were two extremely fierce inter-jatha soccer competitions, with seniors playing on the second night and juniors playing on the third night. We also had Bhangra aerobics, which was MC’d by Jasbir Singh. Jasbir taught us all a few typical bhangra moves, which each jatha then incorporated into a quick and intense dance-off. Through these competitions, it was heartening to see the spirit of camaraderie, sportsmanship and cooperation between all the jathas, which stood as a tribute to the fantastic leadership of all the jatha leaders and assistant jatha leaders.
Jatha SAT showing us what they are all about
In addition to these competitions, the usual camp afternoon adventure activities also took place - canoeing, sailing, swimming, rock climbing, abseiling and the ropes course. This year, the organisers also put together several workshops for those looking to try something else. These workshops included Yoga, Punjabi classes, Santhiya classes, Kirtan / tabla classes and male grooming lessons – how to tie your turban and keeping your beards tidy. Every afternoon from 2-4 pm, parents and young adults also participated in a range of brilliant workshops by Prof Jaswant Singh Ji and Harinder Singh on the teachings of our Gurus in plain English and Punjabi.
Of course, Sikh camp could not be Sikh camp without the traditional inter-jatha Kirtan competition. From the second night till the last night, the jathas went from strength to strength in the Kirtan presentations they shared with the Sangat. By the last night, the quality of the Kirtan presentations was so high it was hard to believe that many of the participants had never done Kirtan before. Some highlights of the competition included the innovative use of multimedia and improvised percussion instruments in each jatha’s quest to be as creative as possible.
The last night was extremely intense, as each camper tried to make the night as memorable as possible. Instead of the annual Drama Night, this year the organisers put together a highly interactive trivia night, which had everyone on their toes. There was a wide range of questions, ranging from Sikhism to pop culture, however, the highlight of the night was the final round, which included tasks such as ‘Can you Dudhu?’, which challenged competitors to drink as many glasses of milk as they could in one minute and the Dastar Challenge which saw one girl from each jatha try to tie a dastaar on a boy’s head.
Jatha SANTOKH - focused on the trivia prize
This year’s camp had us all enthralled from beginning to end. We were all able to expand our knowledge, not only on ‘Vand ke Shakna’, but also on ‘Naam Japna’ and ‘Kirat Karni’. We were able to experience the divine and vibrant Kirtan by both facilitators and youth every day, and by the end of it we were all croaking like frogs because of how hard we had sung. Camp has always been a memorable experience for me, and this year was no exception (especially with the visits from the natural wildlife). But as one Uncle once said, “The real camp starts when you get home.” So keep that camp spirit alive and I hope to see you all there next year!
Looking forward to next year! With new friendships made and plenty of fun had, the juniors were raring to return