The serene shores of Lake Winnipesaukee witnessed a remarkable gathering of over 110 individuals at the Vivekananda Family Camp, which took place from Sunday,
August 13th, to Saturday, August 19th, 2023. Nestled within the breathtaking Camp Winaukee, this week-long event proved to be a blend of various activities, cultural celebrations, and memorable experiences.
The Vivekananda Family Camp was an immersive experience that touched upon various aspects of the Camp Theme, which was the Ten Dharma Lakshan (The ten attributes that a person should aspire for). These were Dhritri (Fortitude), Kshama (forgiveness), Damah (self-control), Asteya (non-stealing, honesty), Shaucha (external and internal cleanliness), Indriya Nigraha (sense control), Dhi (intellect), Vidya (knowledge), Satya (truth), Akrodh (non-anger). Campers and adults learned about all these attributes, which were further enhanced by stories from the Puranas and Itihaasas.
Participants embraced the beauty of yoga, channeling their inner peace through mindful practice. Arts and crafts sessions nurtured creativity and imagination, while discussions fostered intellectual exchange and introspection. On the last day of camp, all the campers were ‘tested’ on their knowledge of the Camp Theme through a lively scavenger hunt.
The camp’s vibrant itinerary included an array of Indian games that ignited friendly competition and camaraderie. A memorable hiking expedition to Baldy Knob allowed attendees to appreciate the splendor of nature. The journey was complemented by savory Subway-style sandwiches lovingly made by the “kitchen aunties” and refreshing beverages.
On Wednesday the popular campfire illuminated the evening, accompanied by the delightful aroma of s’mores. The traditional burning of the effigy of Ravan added a touch of cultural significance, celebrating the triumph of knowledge over ignorance.
Friday marked a transition to the island via the ferry. All campers enjoyed the boat ride. Aarti was held at the shore of the lake, where everyone offered their prayers to “Ma Ganga” AKA Lake Winnipesaukee. Many people said that they had witnessed this aarti for the first time, and that it was a ‘divine experience’.
Garba was held at the open playhouse, which resonated with the rhythmic beats of garba and bhangra music. Laughter, joy, and a sense of unity filled the air as participants swayed to the music.
Culinary experiences were a highlight of the Vivekananda Family Camp. The participants relished delectable Indian cuisine during dinner, savoring the authentic flavors that evoke a sense of nostalgia. Lunchtime offered an international twist with American, Italian and Mexican delicacies, catering to diverse palates.
To round off each day, participants enjoyed milk and cookies, which was the favorite meal of the day for all, young and young at heart alike.
The waterfront activities provided a refreshing escape from the summer heat, with everyone enjoying the boating, kayaking, swimming, or just sitting on the shore and dipping their legs in the lake, enjoying conversation, or playing ‘antakshari’. The nightly cultural programs became the heart of entertainment and engagement. These programs offered a platform for participants to showcase their talents in a safe environment. Even the two youngest campers, three years old, participated in the program.
The Vivekananda Family Camp was not just a vacation; it was an embodiment of Swami Vivekananda’s philosophy of holistic growth, cultural preservation, and communal harmony.
As participants began to leave on Saturday, many campers could be seen shedding a tear that this week was over, and they would have to wait for a whole year before they could come together again for next year’s camp. Contact information was exchanged, with promises to stay in touch over the year. One camper exclaimed, “this is the shortest week of the year!”
The organizers expressed their heartfelt gratitude to all participants, volunteers, and sponsors who contributed to the success of this memorable event.
For further information and future updates, please visit the official Vivekananda Family Camp website at www.vhpafamilycamp.com