By: Madhava Smullen ISKCON News
Brazilian and international youth aged 12 to 16 will get the opportunity to experience Krishna consciousness in a fun way at the first ever Radha Krishna Camp in January, which is summertime in Brazil.
The camp will be split into two separate weeks – from January 5th to 11th for girls, and from the 12th to 19th for boys. It will be held amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Ibirapitanga Reserve, part of the remaining 7% of the Atlantic Rainforest preserved by the Brazilian government and located in the Santa Isabel municipality, just one hour’s drive from Sao Paulo.
The youth will reside in a condominium complex inside the reserve, at the house of ISKCON Brazil Youth Leader Vaikuntha Murti Das and his wife Subhadra Dasi, which has space to accommodate 30 to 35 people at a time.
Although Vaikuntha Murti has been organizing festivals and programs for youth aged 17 and up for the past five years, this is the first time he has run a retreat specifically for younger youth.
“I sat down with my wife, who oversees the ISKCON Educational Department here in Brazil, and we discussed the need of this kind of event for our youth,” he says. “Because Brazil is a huge country, and our Vaishnava youth don’t have so many opportunities to get together in sadhu sanga (devotee association) during their vacation.”
The camp will include daily sadhana bhakti practices such as kirtans and Bhagavad-gita classes with Dhanvantari Swami, who runs Brazil’s Bhakti-Sastri school, and kirtan singer Bhakti-lata from the US.
To get some outreach experience, the youth will participate in Harinamas, chanting Hare Krishna publicly in the local town of Santa Isabel, fifteen minutes from Vaikuntha Murti’s home. They’ll also take a book distribution seminar and get the chance to go out and distribute Prabhupada’s books on the streets under the guidance of senior devotees.
Of course, there will also be lots of fun recreational activities. The youth will get to go horseriding, hiking in the rainforest, and swimming in a lake, and play games like volleyball and of course soccer, Brazil’s most popular sport.
“We’ll even have a small championship,” says Vaikuntha Murti. “The sports coach will be Ramananda Raya Das, who taught for fifteen years at the gurukula here in Brazil.”
There will also be a cooking class with Madhava-lila Dasi, who has run the successful vegetarian restaurant Gopala Madhava in downtown Sao Paulo for the past twenty years.
“Our main goal is to provide the youth with Krishna consciousness in a joyful, fun way,” Vaikuntha Murti says. “Some of the Brazilian ISKCON youth were born in Vaishnava families, but for some reason, they didn’t develop their Krishna consciousness at home. Some only have spiritual names, but have never heard anything about the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita. So during their vacation, they will have a big opportunity to receive Krishna consciousness and understand our main scriptures a little bit deeply, while having fun and making lots of new friends.”
For more information about the Radha Krishna Camp, please visit its Portuguese language website www.radhakrishnacamp.com or contact ISKCON Brazil youth leader Vaikuntha Murti Das at firstname.lastname@example.org.