2014 Summer Kids Yoga Camp - Final Report
Aria Coalson, Youth Volunteer Instructor
On July 28, at the Sunnyvale temple, a Yoga Bharati team lead by Shobha Charagondla began a yoga summer camp from ages 5 to 12. At first the kids remained quiet and not much interacting but, by end of the day 1, they got familiar with the fellow classmates and teachers and became much more involved and highly interactive.
Parents would check in at the signup list while their children would unroll their yoga matts and settle down. The camp really begins when everyone chants the universal starting prayer
Sahanaavavatu - May we both be protected (i.e. the teacher and the student)
Sahanau bhunaktu (May we both be nourished)
Sahaveeryankara karavaavahai (May our knowledge be radiant)
Tejasvinaavadheetamastu (May our work be energetic)
Om Shanti Shanti ShantiH (OM Peace Peace Peace)
After this chant, the kids would partake in one hour of yoga asanas, taught by Shoba and our volunteer teachers. The beginning practices such as palm tree pose and cobra posture started out simple. By the end of the week, children attempted more challenging postures like lolasana (swinging version of lotus pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose). Still, many of the kids were able to bend and twist into these poses we thought would be challenging. Asana time would end with breathing exercises and chanting to calm their excited minds.
By this time child participants would dramatically groan with hunger and so they would take a well deserved morning snack break. Every day the snacks would change, but a steady component were the fruits/vegetables (apples, bananas, watermelons, cantaloupes, grapes, and carrots).
Once the food finished fueling the kids, one hour would be dedicated for skit preparation (which would make its debut on Friday). It took a while to herd the kids into their groups. Younger kids partnered together and took on the role of the one of the eight limbs of yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Our older kids were the swamis, trying to bring peace between the quarreling eight limbs. This play’s main purpose was to educate the children, and the parent audience during Friday’s final performance, about the story of the eight limbs of yoga.
To release all the nervous energy, we played a yoga game for 15 minutes. These games were basically everyday fun games children might play during recess with fun yoga twists in variations. For example, one day we played freeze tag, except when someone was frozen, they would have to balance in Vrikshasana (tree pose).
At 12 started the long awaited one hours lunch break. Students would sit with their newly found friends and eat together. A special thanks to the temple for giving us spoons for kids who forgot theirs. If a child signed up for half day camp, they would depart at 12.
Next, to calm the student’s minds, we engage them in an hour of peaceful chants. This included more slokas, prayers from the gita, patanjalis yoga sutras, and a, o, m chants.
Art supplies were then brought out for creative time. We began the week by growing our very own wheat grass and talking about its healthy properties. The other days, our head of the camp read us stories with morals and the children would draw and share their interpretation. Another fun activity was the 3D om projects, where student cut out and coloured their very own om signs.
Once again we played more yoga games for 15 minutes till afternoon snack time when we all took a break. This time, our healthy munchies were served along with other foods such as gram crackers, animal crackers, ritz crackers, or goldfish.
In order to teach good values to the students, we engaged them in some Karma yoga, where we all helped to clean up.
Finally it was 4 and full day kids would depart home but the extended care kids stayed on. We introduced more yoga games and other fun activities for the extended care kids until 5pm for them to depart.
Overall, all our volunteers enjoyed and had fun spending time with the kids and truly looking forward to future events!