Chennai Organised “Unnati”, a Three Day Residential Summer Camp for Teenagers
ISKCON Chennai Organised ‘Unnati’, a Three Day Residential Summer Camp for Teenagers
Prema Ras das: In the summer of 2019, two scenic seaside villas came to life, as sixty-eight teenagers got together to participate in Unnati – a spiritual camp for teenagers conducted by ISKCON Chennai.
Unnati (meaning advancement) was conducted between April 19th to 21st and has drawn high praise and encouraging feedback from the attendees and their parents alike.
Conceived by HG Tarini Radha Devi Desi and HG Sukirti Madhavi Devi Dasi, Unnati was designed to help the fun-loving teenagers grasp the essence of bhakti yoga and enthusiastically add Krishna to their lives.
After kickstarting the day with power-packed yoga and Japa sessions on the beach, the boys and girls would convene for spiritually enriched breakfast.
During the day, experienced teachers would take them through the specially designed “Discover Yourself” and “Lifestyle Series” presentations, both based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
An interesting highlight was the daily post-lunch skit session, in which participants, grouped into teams of six, would demonstrate their understanding of the day’s learning in the form of short skits – drawing cheer and laughter from the viewers and building camaraderie between teammates.
Evening meant sports time – volleyball, football, kabaddi and swimming to provide adequate physical exercise.
After Gaura arati and ecstatic kirtan, the students would attend a “practical” Lifestyle session, guiding them to perform their daily activities more efficiently and with higher consciousness.
Following a sumptuous dinner, the students would share their doubts, comments and realizations from the day’s activities, with the facilitating devotees before retiring for the day.
After an inspiring day one session on the power of habits by HG Amal Mahaprabhu Das Brahmacari, the attendees were in for a big surprise on day two. Little did they know that they would be addressed by none other than HH Bhanu Swami who spoke on the topic ‘Science and the Vedas’ followed by an avid Q&A session. The students posed a slew of interesting questions to Maharaj who was very happy to answer all of them.
The participants were given the option to decide day three’s agenda upon which they wanted the facilitating devotees team to enact dramas on the ABCDE of bhakti yoga (Association, Books, Chanting, Diet and Engagement in Service), to which the team happily obliged. The viewers had a hilarious time watching the teachers put up splendid little skits displaying amazing hidden talents.
Towards the end of the camp, each of the students read out their sankalpas (vows) in front of Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra before proceeding to the ISKCON Chennai temple for kirtan and snacks. When their parents started coming to collect them, most of the students regretted the short tenure of the camp. Parents have started sharing success stories about the much-improved sadhana standards of their children post Unnati.
The feedback forms indicated that the attendees particularly loved the lifestyle sessions and the lip smacking multi-cuisine prasadam. Suddha Sattva, the restaurant run by the temple catered for most of Unnati’s prasadam requirements. Overwhelming and rave reviews are spurring the organizers to come up with follow-up preaching strategies and also to make Unnati into a bi-annual event with an ever-increasing scope. How pleasing would it be to Srila Prabhupada if many of these budding devotees go on to become exemplary servants of Sri Guru and Gauranga.