The BAPS Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in
Cherry Hill, NJ hosted the Northeast Region Bal-Balika Summer
Shibir. Balaks and balikas from all over the Northeast attended
the shibir, which was held in the presence of Pujya santos.
The theme of the shibir was “Swami Bapa na Bal Mandal ma.”
Its goal was to help balaks and balikas understand the importance
of bal mandal and to show them the basics of what it takes
to become ădarsh in bal mandal.
The shibir consisted of eight workshops
that combined both presentations and activities in order
to help balaks and balikas better understand the theme.
“Love for Balaks” showed how much P.P. Pramukh Swami Maharaj
cares for balaks and what he has done and sacrificed for
them. “Satsang Benefits” explained how balaks and balikas
have benefited in their spiritual and moral lives through
bal mandal. In “Personal Benefits”, balaks and balikas learned
how bal mandal has taught them many other valuable skills,
such as communication and leadership skills, and music.
“Seva” taught the importance of seva and the types of seva
balaks and balikas can do in the mandir. “Mandir Discipline”
explained proper discipline in the mandir. “Concentration
and Discipline” showed the importance of concentration in
all of a balak’s activities at school, home, and mandir.
“Putting into Practice” taught, what balaks and balikas
gain in bal mandal is essential to life, and so everyone
should put into practice what they learn. Finally, “Karyakar
for an Hour” simulated what it’s like to be a bal or balika
karyakar by having attendees role play being a karyakar
for one hour, during which participants brainstormed ideas
for next year’s Regional Bal Din with Swămishri.
Each night shibir attendees were treated
to an exciting evening program. The first night balaks played
a modified version of musical chairs in which the losers
of each round had to endure entertaining consequences. The
second night attendees got to see their fellow balaks and
karyakars participate in an eating contest. The highlight
was during the jalapeńo pepper eating contest. Saturday,
August 9 was carnival and sports day. Balaks and balikas
played various indoor and outdoor games such as water slide,
races, gladiator joust, and dodge ball. Through samuh puja
on Sunday, August 10, balaks and balikas gained knowledge
of the proper way to do daily puja. At the shibir’s conclusion,
all balaks and balikas received a large poster commemorating
next year’s 50th anniversary of the founding of the BAPS
Bal Mandal, taking home with them memories of the shibir
as well as lessons to put into their lives.