Gaining Gian


Guest blog by: Satinderpal Kaur

This August the 12th annual Camp Gian, in which approximately 150 youth ages 3 to 20 partook, was held. In its twelfth year, Camp Gian had a new home, the Khalsa Care Foundation, but still had the same mission. Youth attended the overnight camp from August 8th through August 13th and spent five days being instilled with “gian”—knowledge—in various forms. While learning about the history of the period from 1740 to 1850, the youth also learned about discipline, spiritual growth, being part of a “sangat” (congregation/ community), and leadership through various activities throughout the week.

Every morning, campers would be woken up as early as 4:00 a.m. in order to get the day started on time. All of the campers would join each other in the main hall for yoga exercises in order to get their bodies ready for the day. The exercises were followed by recitation of the morning prayers, Jap Ji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, and Savaiye, as well as singing of kirtan. During the morning, as well as the evening, divaans all of the activities are facilitated by campers so that they learn how to perform the services that occur at gurdwara. The campers are responsible for making the prashaad, doing ardaas, taking hukam, and handing out prashaad. The theme shabad for this year was “Darshan Har Dekhan Kai Taaee” and the theme song was entitled “I Can’t Wait to See You.” Every year a shabad is chosen to go hand in hand with the history lessons and a theme, or take-home message, is developed. Waking up in the morning and participating in the morning divaan instilled values of self-discipline and personal, spiritual growth in the campers.

After morning divaan and breakfast, the campers would participate in another important part of Camp Gian—the classes. The campers were split up into three different age groups, from ages 0-11, 12-14, and 15-20. Each age group had a class tailored to their level and learned about Sikh history from 1740-1850. They learned about martyrs like Baba Deep Singh, Jassa Singh Alhuwalia, Akali Phoola Singh, and Hari Singh Nalwa, and also learned about the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. While they learned about the struggles of Sikh martyrs during this time, they also learned about what kind of faith in God helped the martyrs to face their hardships bravely. The theme shabad helped teach the campers that the martyrs accepted any situation in which God put them happily and never lost faith in Him.

Divaan and breakfast were followed by three rigorous and interesting classes, after which the campers had lunch and would be escorted to a local park for recreation time. There, they played various games like “Capture the Laddoo,” “Water Balloon Toss,” football, soccer, and many others. The recreation time facilitated an environment where the campers could get to know each other, make friends, and build relationships. The young campers got the chance to associate with their “sangat” and build relationships with Sikhs in their community. The free time refreshed the campers and let them have a lot of fun, making their camping experience more memorable.

The rest of the afternoon would then be spent in various intensive training classes in which campers either learned how to play “gatka,” how to tie turbans, how to do braids, or how to cook prashaad, sabzi, daal, and rice. The intensive training exercises gave the campers a kind of knowledge that they could use in their lives to become better Sikhs and better people. These basic skills that all Sikhs should have were mastered by attending the same intensive training classes over the course of three days. These skills allowed for personal growth as Sikhs. In the evening, campers would participate in evening prayers and divan. Divaan was followed by dinner, and just like at every other mealtime, campers were responsible for distributing food and cleaning up afterwards. The evening would wrap up with a fun activity, like the pillow-fight competition and the family feud game, after which the campers would promptly be sent to sleep at 10:30 p.m.

Following this schedule for five days can be grueling, but when the last day of Camp Gian arrives, the campers are always wishing they had one more day of camp. Camp Gian becomes such a large part of campers’ lives that much of camp is helped run by senior campers who have attended camp their whole lives. Now that they are older, they are given responsibilities and leadership positions so that they can help facilitate the transmittance of knowledge to the younger generation. Camp Gian has completed another successful year and campers are counting down the days to Camp Gian 2011!

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