"Everyday is bursting with the opportunity for us to do and to serve, to act and to express, to love and to live" - Gurudev. What a better way to make the most of Swami Swaroopananda's visit than CHYK camp! Chinmaya Mission youth camps are stepping stones for the youth to learn and progress in their spiritual journey amongst like-minded people.
This year, the awaited retreat was held at the serene environment of the Candlebark Farm, Healesville. With youth growing up in a busy society and lacking time to themselves, the peaceful and isolated campsite allowed for complete immersion into the inspiring days ahead. The theme of "Opportunity Knocks" was carried right through from the beginning by enthusiastic CHYKS who took leadership roles in bringing this interstate event to life.
The Friday afternoon began with introductory icebreakers. It was a fantastic start with laughter and making new friends. The youth may have put on a face when told to switch off their mobile phones and cut contact with the outside world, but soon realised productivity and concentration levels which could be reached without these devices.
Saturday begun with 6:00am morning meditation classes with Br. Gautamji (not too early for those who were dedicated to go for their morning run beforehand). It was the ideal way to focus the mind and a stress reliever and to be in the right mental state for the learning day ahead. Swamiji enlightened all with the narrative of Nachiketa in which he has the single-minded pursuit to obtain knowledge of moksha. It was discovered that to make the most of life's opportunities you must tailor and ask the right questions to the right people. This story illustrated well that by maintaining confidence in ones convictions is integral to consistently making the right decisions throughout our lives.
These concepts were made tangible through fun filled, thought provoking afternoon activities. We were divided into three nations: Azerbaijan, Gondwanaland and Western Sahara. All teams had the single task of building the most solid structure out of our resources. The only way for civilians to obtain the resources was by earning money through ropes, rock climbing and basketball. Filled with laughter, teamwork and waterbombs this activity was thoroughly enjoyed by all. A clear highlight, beautiful executed by the Melbourne chyks and the engaging participants themselves.
Reflecting upon the day from a deeper perspective with Gautamji and Darren, all were forced into introspection, and made a promise to themselves to let go of a hindrance in their life. This weight was lifted off their shoulders by throwing it into the bonfire. Symbolically it was a bonding process for the group, as it felt as though everyone was in it together. Furthermore, discussion groups with new friends and meals with Swamiji allowed for conversation with depth to arise. It was an fundamental activity of the camp to relate and apply the knowledge, a time to develop convictions and goals as Swamiji's quote, "If you don't stand up for something, you'll fall for anything".
Consistently, CHYK camps have provided the youth with an unforgettable cultural experience and rich knowledge under a support network. Many CHYKS will look back upon this experience as a time of forging great friendships, being inspired by Swamiji, invigorated to create opportunities in life.