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SRF Summer Day Program for Youth, 2015

August 28, 2015

A newly structured Self-Realization Fellowship Summer Day Program for children (ages 7–12) and teens (ages 13–18) was conducted on the 20-acre campus of the Encinitas Country Day school adjoining the scenic San Elijo lagoon by the Pacific Ocean in Encinitas, California. The Monday-through-Friday program for girls took place June 22–26, and for boys June 29–July 3.
SRF Summer Day Program Inaugural Day 1 SRF Summer Day Program Inaugural Day 2
Brother Vishwananda and Sister Preeti, representing the SRF Board of Directors, spoke on the inaugural day of the new Summer Day Program Participants of the Girls' Program with nuns
The new program is a step toward SRF's long-term goal of manifesting Paramahansa Yogananda's vision for the proper education of youth. (Other related initiatives are currently under development.) The Summer Day Program represents significant progress toward that goal, introducing a curriculum developed by SRF Youth Services department working with accredited teachers and qualified educationists who are also SRF members.
SRF Summer Day Program Boys in Art and Science 1 SRF Summer Day Program Boys in Art and Science 2 SRF Summer Day Program Boys in Art and Science 3
Boys in art and science classes engaged in various fun and meditative activities.

The new program was designed to accommodate younger children as well as older teens than in past years, and to provide today's youth with the opportunities to engage with Paramahansa Yogananda's teachings at a deep and meaningful level.
SRF Summer Day Program Girls in Meditation SRF Summer Day Program Girls with Brahmacharini Angelina
Older teens experience deep meditation in the
company of Sister Sarvamayi
Brahmacharini Angelina with students during an
experiment on static electricity and
prana

A special Open House hosted by SRF monastics was held on the campus at the beginning of each week to orient parents and children to the goals of the program. Following that, each day began at 9:00 a.m. with group practice of Energization Exercises, prayer, and meditation, led by SRF monastics, who inspiringly imparted the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda through stories, interactive classes, and satsangas
SRF Summer Day Program Girls in Art and Mahabharata War 1 SRF Summer Day Program Girls in Art and Mahabharata War 2
Mask of Duhshasana, representing anger, made by teens for a play based on the Mahabharata war between the good Pandus and the evil Kurus. Performing arts classes included discussions, improvisation sessions, costume design and making masks, and finally, enacting on a stage at the school's amphitheater.

Later in the day, science, art, music, and theater classes given by lay-member educators were seamlessly integrated with discussions and activities on spiritual principles such as inner strength, right behavior, and creativity. On the playground too, children were taught the value of team spirit and right behavior. The beautiful location also provided opportunities for nature walks and plenty of time outdoors. Thus, in the course of a day, the youngsters learned many life lessons and strategies to spiritualize their daily lives.
SRF Summer Day Program Boys Meditating with Brother Pranavananda SRF Summer Day Program Boys Meditating SRF Summer Day Program Boys Meditating Group
Paramahansa Yogananda's yoga techniques for recharging the body and concentrating the mind were taught to eligible boys, being led in prayer by Brother Pranavananda (left) and in group practice of Energization Exercises (right). 

A special pilgrimage outing was organized to the SRF Hermitage and Meditation Gardens in Encinitas—a site sacred to followers of Paramahansa Yogananda all over the world. A monastic-led day retreat for parents was organized at the nearby Encinitas SRF temple midway during both the girls' and boys' weeks—another new feature of this year's program, organized so the mothers and fathers could receive instruction on spiritual parenting to complement the inspiration being received by their children.
SRF Summer Day Program Girls with Sister Sarvamayi SRF Summer Day Program Boys with Brother Sarvananda
Sister Sarvamayi with the girls (left) and Brother Sarvananda with teens during pilgrimages to the
SRF Hermitage and Meditation Gardens in Encinitas

More photos of the Summer Day Program can be seen in our photo album.

As the Summer Day Program develops further, SRF hopes to conduct such youth events in other regions of the country and the world.

Following is a sampling of messages from the children and teens:

 

"I think this was the best camp week ever."
          —12-year-old girl

"It was awesome!!! The food was scrumptious, the activities were amazing, and the teachers were really nice."
          —13-year-old girl

"I really enjoyed the week and it would be awesome if SRF were to make a school exactly like this."
          —12-year-old boy

"Doing the yoga techniques got me very relaxed and helped me connect with God."
          —13-year old boy

 

"When we all went to the Hermitage I felt Master's presence. I felt very connected and peaceful."
          —13-year-old girl

"I took home the knowledge of how to connect with God."
          —9-year-old girl

"I have really seen how much meditation is helping me. I also got some help in finding balance in my life….It helped me feel more motivated on advancing my spiritual life."
          —13-year-old girl

"I plan to take the peacefulness and kindness I felt constantly while at this camp and vibrate it to everyone I meet."
          —18-year-old boy


A 9-year-old girl shared her decorated handwritten journal of the week. It reads as follows:
 

Day 1: Today was so nice. I feel like Master is with me all the time.

Day 2: Meditation is in me and God is in my heart.

Day 3: We learned a story about Master (and his brother).

Day 4: Today we made rockets and it was so C.O.O.L!!!

Day 5: No!!! Today is the last day. But we had fun. The Big Kids made a play and so did the Little Kids. We had fun. I am so happy to go to Day Camp next year.

The father of an 11-year-old boy wrote, "My son had a wonderful time. Although he was initially reluctant to go, he quickly changed his mind at the Open House [which was conducted at the school campus prior to the day program]. When he came home after the first day, he spent thirty minutes describing to me the whole day and how great it was. That enjoyment carried through for the entire week. Thanks to SRF and all the volunteers for organizing this week of bliss for the children."

SRF Summer Day Program Boys Group with Brother Vishwananda2
Brother Vishwananda with the monks and participants of the Boys' Summer Day Program 
 

 

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