Michigan, July 24, 2023: In an effort to instill cultural values and spiritual awareness among the Sikh youth, the Sikh Youth Alliance of North America (SYANA) organized a week-long Gurmat camp in the picturesque setting of YMCA Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan in USA. The 50th year of this camp witnessed an overwhelming response from participants and volunteers who eagerly immersed themselves in the teachings of Sikhism.
The yearly event aims to bring together Sikh youth from across North America to an environment where the Sikh way of life can be experienced. For the past 50 years, SYANA has provided Sikh children with a 1-week summer endeavor, involving the youngest members of our Panth in Keertan, Paath, Gurmat, History and most importantly, the benefits of Guru-oriented Sangat, said Kuldeep Singh, the founder and national convener of SYANA.
He further added, “Immersed in the inspiring traditions of the Sikh faith, these youth capture a glimpse of the Guru’s message in the hopes of encouraging a love for the Sikh path. The camp is structured to encourage relationships that strengthen a spiritual experience through Sangat. In spending a week together, youth create friendships that last a lifetime”.
Over 130 Sikh youth, ranging from ages 8 to 18, from various parts of USA & Canada attended the camp. This year again, many could not join as all the slots got filled within 2 minutes of opening of online registration. Accompanied by experienced instructors, the campers were divided into age-appropriate groups, ensuring a tailored learning experience for each cohort. Each day commenced with Parbhat Pheri (morning religious procession) and morning kirtan (devotional singing) divan, setting a serene and contemplative ambiance for the participants.
Engaging workshops and classes on Gurbani recitation, kirtan, Sikh and Guru history providing the youth with a comprehensive understanding of their faith and its rich traditions. The participants also enjoy various sports and other activities including high ropes, ziplining, basketball, ice breakers, group discussions, trivia and camp fire.
The whole week, every participant gets a chance to recite at least one Shabad they learned during kirtan classes. Every year, the camp has a theme shabad that is recited every day twice during morning and evening divan. This year the theme shabad was “simar manaa raam naam chithaarae.”
This year was also special as the Gurmat camp completed 50 years. Many of the old campers in 1980s and 90s, who are now volunteers and organizers thanked the founder Kuldeep Singh, his wife Arminder Kaur and volunteers since 1985, Dr. Amarjit Singh & his wife Dr. Amarjit Kaur.
In his speech to the Sangat, Convener Kuldeep Singh shared how in early 1970’s, he along with a group of Sikhs felt the need to organize Sikhs Gurmat camps for the Sikh youth in North America. He added that the first camp was held in 1973 in the basement of his residence in Detroit Metropolitan area, Michigan. He also recalled many of members who started on this journey with him, including the ones who left this world.
“I am thankful to Waheguru, Akal Purakh for initiating the camp. I was blessed by my Guru that drove me to start this. Since then, I learned a lot from the youth and colleagues who joined us volunteering for the camp, thanks to all who kept on coming and inspire each other for all times to come,” said Kuldeep Singh.
The camp concluded with final day gatka demonstration by the participants and a Kirtan Darbar. The successful execution of the Gurmat camp by SYANA for the past many years has not only nurtured the spiritual growth of the Sikh youth but also strengthened their cultural roots. These camps empower the next generation of Sikh leaders who will carry forward the essence of Sikhism in the USA, Canada and beyond.