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National Summer Training Camp
1 August 2008, UK


The National Summer Training Camp 2008 started on 1st August and lasted for ten days, of which seven days were spent in the Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, and the remaining three days were spent at a campsite in Southend for balaks, whilst the balikas enjoyed a fun-filled weekend based in the Mandir.
After registration and dinner on Friday evening, the bal-balikas had their first summer camp session entitled, ‘Satsang nā Pāyā’. Throughout the next six days at the Mandir the bal-balikas had a number of sessions and sant pravachans which increased and deepened their knowledge on Hinduism, Swaminarayan philosophy and the Indian culture. They were enlightened on the reasons and thoughts behind certain Hindu rites and rituals and were made to practice these to ensure that they were carried out correctly. There were also sessions on why Hinduism is such a unique and extraordinary religion.  This included many facts and figures about Hinduism as well as important beliefs and characters that were influential in the Hindu religion. 
Another session that took place for five of the seven days at the Mandir was, ‘Group Projects’, a session geared towards increasing teamwork.  Here the bal-balikas had to use a variety of skills in order to create a presentation which portrayed the given topic, as well as fulfilling the criteria and specifications given.  The bal-balikas in their groups had to use a combination of research, creativity, teamwork and presentation skills in order to make their presentation successful.
To keep the bal-balikas active, there were also sports sessions organised. The bal-balikas played a variety of sports from basketball to table-tennis and even dodge ball. The kids really enjoyed these and these sessions enabled them to work closely with other bal-balikas and karyakars.
Knowledge about the Swaminarayan religion was also augmented with talks and discussions. The topics covered included Shastriji Maharaj and his adversities, as well as motivational prasangs and recollections. These broadened the bal-balikas overall knowledge and deepened their understanding. An especially enlightening talk was given by P. Yogvivek Swami who spoke in depth on Akshar Purshottam Upāsanā. 
Also included were team building activities such as a treasure hunt which tested the bal-balikas satsang knowledge. There was also a tower building exercise which further increased teamwork between the members in each group.
The final part of the Summer Camp for the balaks was a three day camping trip in Southend. This was probably the most exciting and exhilarating part of the Summer Camp. Over the three days there were many activities to complete such as rock climbing, crate stacking and high ropes. All the activities there were designed to increase teamwork, and many activities could not be completed without teamwork. When not in activities there was always something else to do. Sports were continuously being played as well as various board games.  On one night there was even a camp fire for the balaks to enjoy. There was also a sumptuous barbecue for the balaks where all were thoroughly watered and fed.  
The final part of the Summer Camp for the balikas was just as action packed and fun based as the balaks. They embarked on a day trip to Thorpe Park, where all had a great time, followed by more fun and activities back at Mandir. The following day they then had more fun playing golf, before returning to a fashion show. The weekend ended with a lovely barbecue and a Parents Meeting, held to inform the mothers of what their balikas had learnt over the past ten days.

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