"Family Camp is Coming, Family Camp is Coming!" - by Joe Chorneau
There's a peacock, affectionately named Shukdeo, who lives right off Barsana Ave. Most days you can see him on the grass across from the Ancient Yoga Center standing tall and proud, like the peacock he is. And just before satsang you can hear him yelling out- "Radhey, Radhey! Radhey, Radhey! Radhey, Radhey!"
But lately he has been going on about the upcoming Family Camp coming at the end of this month, (June 29 - July 4). Some of the residents living here have reported hearing him calling out to them: "Family Camp!" He says, "Family Camp is coming soon! I can't wait! Can you?! Family Camp! It's coming!"
It's very well known that Shukdeo's greatest love is for Radha Rani, but Family Camp at Radha Madhav Dham is something very close to his heart too. He says that he loves to see so many lovely, smiling faces from the families of the community who come and enjoy this fun-filled holiday week, especially all the kids and adults playing cricket (or soccer, volleyball, or kabaddi) in front of Raseshwari Radha Rani Temple. Shukdeo fondly calls them all "my Radha Madhav Dham-vasis."
Shukdeo wants to remind the parents, especially those who have not yet had a chance to come and participate with us at Family Camp, that while Family Camp at Radha Madhav Dham is so much fun for the whole family, it is also a great opportunity for educational and spiritual growth. It's all about deepening our understanding of our great spiritual heritage of Sanatan Dharm. However he stresses that we should enjoy it, have fun, laugh and taste the sweetness of Radha Rani and Shree Krishn Who are always here, ready to shower Their Grace on us.
"This summer, don't stay home," he says to the children, "Just for a few days, leave your Xboxes or your Play-stations and come to Radha Madhav Dham Family Camp! I promise you that you'll be amazed and astounded. Go, find your parents now and tell them to start planning to come! It will soon be here!"
Vyasar Gansesan, Family Camp Youth Counselor four years running, says, "At Radha Madhav Dham Family Camp, parents and children have a unique opportunity to expand their devotion. I've been coming to Family Camps for over six years, and I have seen that there is truly no limit to all of the fun that is here. Water-holi, leelas, outdoor games, interactive programs - these are all pieces that are just a part of the wonder you can experience at Radha Madhav Dham."
There's the story that Swami Nikhilanand recounts from last December's Family Camp about the girl in the 3-5 age group who learned to chant "Radhey Govind" along with the other kids. Now, her parents say that every night before going to bed, she sits in front of their family mandir and does 5 minutes of chanting and meditating on God. Even if her mother forgets, she reminds her and insists on doing it before sleeping. Imagine, such great thing as that from going to Family Camp!
And then there's the one he tells about the boy who was in the 6-12 age group. As part of the class, they made a calendar marking all the main Hindu festivals for 2012 and learned their meaning. On January 14, he asked his family what they were going to do to celebrate Makar Sankranti. His parents were surprised to be asked this by their young son, and asked him how he knew what day it was. He answered that he knew because of the calendar he had put up on the wall in his room.
Stories like these are bountiful; about how parents return home with their children and slowly realize what a profound effect Family Camp has had on them. It is so heartwarming to know so many youngsters who are becoming aware of their tremendous spiritual wealth by coming to Family Camp each year. They form lasting relationships, especially those that bind them to God, which they will one day share with their children, as well.
Here are just a few from a long list of testimonials that kids have written after every Family Camp at Radha Madhav Dham:
"The first time I came here, I never wanted to leave. And then when I came to Radha Madhav Dham for Family Camp, it felt so devotional. "
- 10-year-old participant from Texas
"Radha Madhav Dham is my favorite place in the whole world. I loved spending time here with friends and family and especially God. The things I learn at every camp change me and turn me into a better person. I can't imagine how anyone can leave here without the realization of true happiness and bliss."
- 14-year-old participant from Plano, Texas
"I felt a type of happiness that I never felt in my whole life. I feel purified by my stay in Radha Madhav Dham."
- 12-year-old participant from Queens, NY