When I started at Jakara there years ago, I remember listing out some of my goals: where in California could we formalize misls? Where would we hold Lalkaar in the coming years? Never, did I think that in 2014 we would be having Jakara 'firsts' in a whole other state (not to mention the opposite coast!).
Our first multi-day Jakara Juniors camp was held in Richmond, Virginia. The sangat and volunteers were unconditionally welcoming, and ready to work hard for their community. I spent three days with local volunteers working through a camp that focused on healthy choices, sangat, Sikh heros & sheroes, Gubani, and lots of fun activities. Each of the facilitators and volunteers were committed to providing for these young participants a space to learn about themselves and each other. From the local families that donated food, to those that made sure we had enough bananas for Roshni's relay games, to Baltej hauling wheel barrows full of soil for the new garden - everyone worked together to make this camp a success.
Participants came early everyday ready for a day with their friends and older brothers & sisters. The older kids group developed seva project ideas that were well thought-out and inspirational, translated Gurbani, and discussed the impact of peer pressure. The younger participants did arts, crafts, learned about Sikh history, and sang Gurbani-inspired nursey rhymes (check our Facebook page for videos in the coming days). By the end of the camp the quietest kids were the loudest, the campers were starting to recite the theme shabad, and everyone left with a new sense of friendship and community.
Thank you to everyone in Richmond for making me feel welcome. This was a true example of sangat - a feeling of family and belonging with strangers. I always knew that this is where this organization would take us, creating a network of dedicated individuals making a difference. It is an honor to be able to witness in it in such a short time. I can only imagine where we are headed from here.
Together, we can do anything. Together, we are the movement.
Click here for pictures from the camp.