It is my pleasure to report back to you all that we had a very pleasant, joyous, and successful “Spring Camp 2017” religious camp. This was an event hosted by the JSMW, from Friday, April 7th, 2017 to Sunday, April 9th at the West River Center; a beautiful waterfront property conveniently located in Annapolis, MD. This 3 days/2 nights overnight camp was limited to first 50 children from our Pathshala (8 years and older), with a goal of exposing them to religious sessions and fun-filled activities, all offered away from their homes, families, and technology-free!

The event received very positive response from the attendees, their parents, as well as from the parent chaperones. Some feedback we have received (via WhatsApp group created for the parents) include: “When I asked my kids whether they missed electronics, they said no, and asked why would they need it, especially when we had so much fun with everyone that we did not think about them until now”, “as a parent and as a past Executive Committee member, the best event that I can think of – this kind of event has never happened since last 12 to 14 years”, “my kid was very tired today which shows how active they were throughout the weekend. They will cherish this lifelong and this was also a good way for us parents to know a lot about other kids. Please continue to do this and make it a tradition. This was an amazing experience for the kids”, “The leaders, parents, volunteers, and kids are setting a right example of doing right things for our community without any expectations in return. Really inspiring. True Jainism!”, “Glad they are having a good time. It is great to know that they will walk away from this experience with the same type of memories I have of our camps”, “Looks like the kids had an awesome time. When is the camp for us adults?”

This event was not possible without the selfless dedication, contribution, hard work, and tireless efforts put in by the Planning Committee: Shilpa (Manoj) Shah, Sonal & Chetan Ajmera, Megha Doshi, Arti Choxi, Sahil Shah, and Keyuri Rajani. Additionally, I would like to thank and recognize our parent volunteers, for their immeasurable assistance in caring for each and every child in their assigned group: Prachi Shah, Padma Shah, Nirali Mehta, Monali Shah, Sunil Dharamsi, Nitin Sogani, Nilesh Shah, and Mehul Doshi. I apologize if I have missed thanking any one in person or listing their names below. Michchhami Dukkadum from the bottom of my heart.

Listed below is the summary of the “Spring Camp 2017” event:

  • There were 32 boys and 20 girls attending the camp along with four male and four female chaperones listed above. A special thanks to Dr. Nilay Shah and Dr. Vipul Shah for volunteering to be our Camp Physicians–in-residence, for any health-related emergency.
  • There were two lodges reserved for separate overnight accommodation for boys and girls. Both lodges had two bunk beds in each room. Male chaperones were accommodated in the boys’ lodge and similarly female chaperons in the girls’ lodge.
  • We had three religious sessions delivered by our own members: Saurabh Dalal and Priyal Gandhi. Both sessions were eye-openers for several attendees and were thoroughly inspiring as well.
  • Saurabhbhai’s session, “Applying Jainism for Solutions,” reviewed the basic principles of Jainism, emphasized their importance, and discussed how they apply in our lives today. During this session, the group explored how each attendee can choose to be a “solutionary” and solve problems. The group identified fun and easy ways for kids / teenagers to further exercise respect and kindness for animals, the planet, and other people. This session was recorded. Please see the following links: Video-1, Video-2, Video-3, Video-4, Video-5, Video-6, Video-7, Video-8, and Video-9.
  • Priyalben’s session, “From Dreams to Destiny: Navigating Life as a Young American Jain,” focused on how we can keep up with Jainism when both the religion and the world around us are changing constantly. She discussed how we, as Jain American youth, seem to be learning one thing in our Pathshala classroom and another thing in our lives outside of the Jain society. She spent time and took a deep dive into Jain truths that we can apply as we are growing up and pursuing our dreams. This session too was recorded, please refer to the following links: Video-1, Video-2, Video-3, Video-4, Video-5, Video-6, Video-7, Video-8, Video-9, Video-10, Video-11, Video-12, Video-13, Video-14, and Video-15.
  • Additionally, we had a third religious session from one of the Brahma Kumari ladies group. In this session, “The Power of Our Thoughts and Positive Thinking,” delivered by Sister Jenna, she discussed the power of our thoughts, positive thinking, and how our inner world and thoughts manifest in our outer world. Sister Jenna also engaged the children in discussions and used crystal bowls to emphasize the power of our thoughts, vibrations and concentrating the mind. The session was highly interactive and engaged all attendees. You can see the recorded session in the following link: Video-1, Video-2, Video-3, Video-4, Video-5, Video-6, and Video-7.
  • On Saturday, April 8th, the morning started with a yoga session, led by Arti Choxi and her son, Ajeet Choxi. This duo led the entire group for a morning hike by the water on Sunday, April 9th.
  • Additionally, there were three indoor activities to offer fun-filled moments that were organized by the Planning Committee. The first activity, “Chinese Family Game,” was led by Megha Doshi. Here are the video links: Video-1, Video-2, Video-3, Video-4, Video-5, Video-6, Video-7, Video-8, Video-9, and Video-10. The second activity, “Scavenger Hunt,” was led by Shilpa (Manoj) Shah. Here are the video links: Video-1, Video-2, Video-3, Video-4, Video-5, Video-6, and Video-7. The third activity, “Empire,” was led by Chetan Ajmera.
  • There were two outdoor activities, organized by JYOC (Jain Youth of the Capital) team, that involved sports activities offered by the facility, and a game, “Capture the Flag.”
    Saturday, April 8th ended with an option given to the attendees where they could either participate in free time, or go to their lodges, along with their chaperone, and proceed with mini-games within smaller group.
  • All food served throughout the camp, was prepared fresh, by the venue’s staff, with guidance and recipes received from the ladies of the Planning Committee. This included the Italian, Mexican, and American cuisine. All food served met the restrictions that come with being vegetarian and followed Jain principles. The hard-working kitchen staff was extra ordinarily nice with all the attendees and treated us as their family. There was not a single instance of an exception or any errors made at all.
  • In order to have older children mix and mingle with younger kids, a concept of Buddy System was utilized and used successfully. An older child was matched with 2 to 3 younger kids such that they together were able to interact with each other as one team throughout the camp.
  • The camp, originally planned to run with an approximate deficit of around $750-800, flipped over when some parents stepped forward and showed their generosity. As a result, the camp generated a surplus of around $200, and came to an end with more than 100 GB of memories, new friendships amongst our future leaders, as well as new “detailed” friendships created amongst the chaperones. All pictures taken during this 3-day camp can be viewed at this link: Click Here.