Thursday, February 19, 2009


I'm very lucky to have been involved in Sikh Gurmat camps for most of my life - as a camper, counselor, and administrator. Along the way, I've collected many stories. My friends have always told me I should document them. So here's another addition to the series I call "Camp Stories." Please comment with your own story too...

Camp Story #2: Magic

As per our routine, we would conclude our evening Divaan with a counselor singing Naam Simran, as I would periodically dismiss each group from the Divaan hall, where the campers would then head over to the cafetria for a snack before bedtime.

One night - as I dismissed a group, one of the boys stayed behind. Perhaps he did not hear me, so after I sent a few more groups on their way, I came back to the boy and again asked him to join his group outside. His eyes were closed and he was singing along with the Naam Simran. Finally, after all the campers had been dismissed - I again noticed this defiant camper had not moved. Right as I was about to tap him on the shoulder, he turned to me with tears in his eyes and said "VeerJi, I can't's too beautiful...I just can't. Please let me stay."

I believe magic happens at camp.

I'm not sure what it is about the camp environment that creates such powerful experiences. Campers create relationships - with other campers, with their Sangat...and sometimes with the Divine. As an administrator for many years, caught up in schedules and logistics, I lost sight of these magical experiences that were happening around me

As for the boy who wanted to stay back...I let him. As a matter of fact, I dropped my things and sat beside him too, and we listened to Naam Simran until it stopped. For me, the Naam Simran ended when the counselor stopped singing, but judging from the look on the boy's face, he could still hear it.

I'm not sure what compelled me to stop and sit next to him. Perhaps I longed for what he was feeling, or maybe just hoping that magic would rub off on me.


  1. I make it a point to experience that magic at every camp. If I get lost in schedules and logistics and miss divaans and classes because of it, I wouldn't have the strength to do all the other stuff. And this might not make you proud of me (hahaha), but if I see magic happening, I don't do anything to stop it, regardless of the schedule or if we are late. Last November, I let the oldest kids class go on for almost 1hr45min and only gave them 20 min to eat because we were having one of those discussions that popped out of nowhere that you always dream of having. to me, the magic is what people remember 10 years later, it's what changes lives, it's the whole point of camp. i wouldn't dare cut that short...

  2. I agree, Ravi! And yes I am proud of you :)
    In all the camps I attended as a camper (yes, they had camps back then)...I remember very little of what I learned in the classes...but the magic...that will stay with me for a lifetime...

  3. magic in deed :)
    i'm so glad i read this right after i read harpreet singh (WI)'s note on facebook about camp in may 08...
    this story reminds me of one that a group A kid shared in class with us that year--he was sharing his experience of the first time he ever held a kirpan, and said that he couldn't hold back his tears when he held one...magic, magic, magic. :)

  4. I remember you sharing that story with me, Tavleen - very powerful! I wish I could read harpreet singh's note about camp in may 08. Let's see if we can get him to comment...


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