For the first time, Chinmaya Mission West launched an online summer Balavihar camp. Headed by Swami Sarveshananda and supported by a teaching faculty of 16 Swamins and Brahmacharins, the camp has around 5,600 registered students. The camp runs five days a week for two hours a day, for a total of nine weeks. The students log in to the camp using Zoom from a host of countries, including the United States, Canada, West Indies, and United Kingdom. Students range from Kindergarten to 12th grade, and Chinmaya Yuva Kendra and Chinmaya Setu Kari students also have classes.
All participants start their day with a refreshing yoga session. Students in each grade level are taught by a Swamin or Brahmacharin, and these instructors teach an hour-long daily story session on Mahabharata. Each teacher is assisted by a handful of Chinmaya Yuva Kendra members who help with content management and facilitate supplementary sessions like workshops, group discussions, arts and crafts, Vedic chanting, music and several other hands-on, interactive sessions. In the CHYK and CSK classes, students learn various Vedantic concepts from Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.
|Grade Level||Teacher||Grade Level||Teacher|
|K||Brahmacharini Shuchita||7||Brahmachari Hari|
|1||Brahmacharini Shripriya , Brahmacharini Stuti||8||Brahmachari Vibhu, Brahmacharini Jyoti|
|2||Brahmacharini Shubhani||9||Brahmachari Soham|
|3||Swami Sharanananda||10||Swami Shivatmananda|
|4||Brahmacharini Archana||11||Swami Prakashananda|
|5||Swami Dheerananda||12||Swami Ishwarananda|
|6||Brahmacharini Akalka||CHYK / CSK||Swami Shantananda, Swami Sarveshananda|
In preparation for an online camp of this magnitude, teachers and volunteers underwent training in using equipment and in creatively utilizing the Zoom platform. They are supported by a 40-person back-end team that helps with registration, technical troubleshooting, and content maintenance. Teachers also led their teams in researching Mahabharata in order to effectively create content for 45 days of the camp. With today’s public health crisis creating uncertainty for many, it is fulfilling to see that Pujya Gurudev’s vision of providing families with comfort in the most trying of times is being realized through this online endeavor.