By Balimardana Das
Lilā Krishna Kidz is a spiritual enrichment program that offers Krishna Conscious teaching and activities to kids in a fun-filled atmosphere. Lilā Krishna Kidz was started in the San Franciso Bay Area, California, USA in May 2011 under the able guidance of H. H. Hanumatpreshaka Maharaja and currently enrolls over 30 regular kids. These children are in 3-11 year age group. In the past year, total number individual enrollments exceeded 75 and this unique program designed to present rich Vedic cultural & moral values to children is being very much appreciated by Bay Area parents. Classes are conducted every weekend at two locations ā Milpitas and Cupertino, California. These two central locations cover at least 8 other nearby cities. We are also affiliated with a few private schools such as Merry hills School and Safari Kids who are offering us opportunities to conduct Lilā Krishna Kidz classes on their campus.
In 2012, the first Lilā Krishna Kidz Summer Camp was held at the Sanatana Dharma Kendra in Sunnyvale, from July 9th ā July 13th. The camp was very well advertised through personal word of mouth, through flier and poster distributions at grocery stores and through a regular advertisement played on local AM radio. As a result, many Bay Area parents came to know about the camp and almost 30 Kids enrolled. This was a full day camp from 9 am to 5 pm for kids in 4-11 age group. The summer camp was made possible due to the dedicated efforts of several full time teachers, which also included a guest teacher ā H. G. Gaura Nataraj Prabhu from New Vrindavana. Gaura Natraj Prabhu, who holds a MS degree in Yoga, is a very experienced Yoga teacher and has also written a book on āKrsna Yogaā. In his association, the kids learnt a variety of yoga postures, mantra meditation, performing Arati to the Dieties, story-telling, singing Bhajans and the basics of creation. Besides this, the kids learned shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita and sweet pastimes of the Lord and His devotees from Srimad Bhagavatam.
In the arts and crafts section, the kids created a beautiful painting of Lord Jagannath and made a very appealing Bhagavad Gita diorama featuring Lord Krishna, Arjuna and other warriors on the battle field of Kurukshetra. In the music and drama section, they learned Bhajans and also learned to perform a small skit on āBhagavad Gita ā Krsna~Arjuna Sambadaā and presented the same in front of their parents at the end of the camp. Last, but certainly not least, freshly cooked Krsna Prasadam was offered to the children all throughout the camp and the kids loved it very much.
At the end of the camp, H.G. Jagarini Devi dasi (Disciple of Srila Prabhupada) and H.G. Bhaktavatsal Dasa graced the concluding ceremony by being the chief guests. They congratulated all children for successful completion of the summer camp and encouraged them with gifts and certificates. Just before the summer camp program, some of the kids who had completed the Spring quarter with Lilā Krishna Kidz also received certificates and blessings from H.G. Nirakula Devi Dasi (Disciple of Srila Prabhupada and wife of H.G. Vaisesika Prabhu ā ISKCON Silicon Valley Temple President).The children were also extremely fortunate to have received the blessings of H.H. Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj and H.G. Akruranath Dasa who visited summer camp on one of the days. The children were very happy to receive cake Prasadam from Maharajās hands, who happened to be visiting the bay area during this time.
Considering the fact that most of the children attending the summer camp were entirely new to the ISKCON and Krishna Consciousness philosophy, their curiosity and interest in learning various things, their intriguing questions, and their enthusiasm was truly enlivening for the teachers. The teachers were especially happy and satisfied to note that all the kids attending the summer camp, by the end had developed a taste for chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. The love and care that the kids received from their teachers made them want to come back for more of such programs.
At the end of the camp, kids put up a small performance for their parents exhibiting all that they had learned during the week long summer camp. The parents were extremely happy and satisfied with this performance. They were especially impressed with the quality effort put in by all the teachers which made the camp fun and educational for their children. Some of the kids and their parents, on asking, showed extreme enthusiasm to also participate in the annual San Francisco Ratha Yatra held in Golden Gate Park, shortly after the summer camp. As a result, they practiced for and performed a nice dance depicting the 10 principle incarnations of the Lord as sung in the Dasavatara Stotra by Jayadeva Goswami at the Ratha Yatra festival. Some kids also performed a drama āThe Tailor and Lord Jagannathā depicting the loving devotion of the great tailor devotee of Lord Jagannath by the name Parameshthi.
The vision of the organizing committee and the dedicated efforts of the teachers made the first Lilā Krishna Kidz summercamp a grand success. We would like to offer the results from this program Their Lordships, Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohana, to Sriman Mahaprabhu, to Sr Sri Laxmi Narasimha-deva (presiding deities at ISKCON Silicon Valley temple) & to Srila Prabhupada. We always humbly pray to all the Vaisnavas (especially to H.H. Hanumatpreshaka Maharaj & H.G. Vaisesika Prabhu) and all our leaders in ISKCON, so that by their mercy we may be able to conduct such programs throughout the year and also expand it rapidly all over the Bay Area.
Readers can email their comments, suggestions or questions to email@example.com. Please also visit our website at www.bc4he.org for more details. Hare Krishna.