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Camp For At-risk Bhujangis


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau

The time has come for a Sikh camp for at-risk teenagers who are having problems with school or family, exhibiting low self-esteem or motivation, making poor peer or relationship choices, defying authority or responsibility, or experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

The Bhujangi Academy, a ten-day outdoor camp for boys aged 13 to 16, will provide life skills, goals, and expectations, while connecting them to their roots and heritage, according to its Web site.

“This is a population no one connects with,” said Deep Singh, one of the camp creators and a founder of Jakara Movement, a group that organizes projects and activities for the Sikh youth of California.

Most Khalsa schools cater to children under 12, he said. Some teenagers attend Sikh camps. Between 18 and 25, the ones who have grown to be responsible adults become involved with Sikh student associations in universities.

But in those early teenage years, “there is a critical gap that our community overlooks,” said Deep Singh, also a former high school teacher who is pursuing higher education.

Parents get frustrated with the cultural barrier and generation gap between them and their children, he said. They don’t have an effective means to convey culture and religion. And that can lead to serious problems at this impressionable age.

The organizers are publicizing the camp on blogs, in Punjabi newspapers and in California gurdwaras. “Trained professionals, youth role models, and invited guests will all make this a life-changing event that the young men in our community will not want to miss,” according to an online announcement.

Camp counselors have created the curriculum based upon professional experience and advice, Deep Singh added. One of the counselors has worked in an at-risk youth outreach program with the Hispanic community, which parallels the Punjabi community. Another is a professional social worker.

“There is a pattern in the younger generation, in high school, of behavioral problems,” said Amandeep Kaur Dhillon, a camp counselor who recently graduated with a master’s degree in social work. “They need basic intervention at an early state to develop coping skills so thoughts and feeling don’t become counterproductive.”

Some Punjabi boys can use anger management skills, she added.

“Parents complain that they don’t talk to us, that they are snappy or disrespectful. But they are not aware that other factors are contributing to the outbursts of anger.”

There is no one systematic or problematic issue here, she said.

“(Some) parents are not teaching the value of working. Their kids get everything. They live lavish lifestyles and expect them to excel in school, but the kids do not see the connection. They are not all ungrateful but it’s frustrating when parents expect something in return.”

Substance abuse also creates anger problems, she added. And if they fall into that pattern, they can spiral down and hit bottom.

The Bhujangi program is inspired by the Guru and designed for the Punjabi Sikh community, both counselors said.

“Most boys are pressured by parents to attend, we acknowledge and accept that,” Deep Singh said. To capture their interest, the stay-away camp will be held in the Sequoia Mountains of Kings Canyon National Park, about one hour from Fresno. The area is self-enclosed and has all the necessary facilities.

“You can’t just tell a kid to come, he will not want to do it,” Amandeep Kaur added. “Boys respond well to physical settings. The program is structured with things they like, such as hiking. You have to have something that rings them in, so they do not realize that they are in session eight hours a day.

“Physical activities can be therapeutic,” she said. “They include bond-building exercises where the physical activity is structured to work with other boys, to recognize other peoples feelings. You take some and get some.”

For this pilot year, only 15 California kids will be selected for the 10-day adventure. The camp will be held from Aug. 1 to 10.

“If effective, we hope to keep continuous contact with these young people and create life-long relationships,” Deep Singh said.



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Gurmit Singh

Jan 29, 2009
Waheguru jee ka Khalsa Waheguru jee kee Fateh

Many thanks for conducting and sharing information about the Sikh Youth Camps
for catering the Gurmatt need, which is absolutely essential while residing within
the Western life-style.

For the last over three years, I have also been taking Sikh Scripture Classes in two
Public Schools having about (100) students from Year 1 to 6 in the age group from
6 to 12. During School hours, one hour is allocated in a week but being a Volunteer
Seva, Instructors are not easily available. Even several Retired persons though well
educated and having Teaching experience are reluctant to take this responsibility.

My experience is that Sikh students are very slow to learn "Gurbaani and Gurmatt"
because their mindset is the same as of their parents and other relatives. Whatever
they see, hear during family discussions and in the Gurduaras, they pick up but
when I try to explain certain short-comings or over-statements based on the fairy
tales, they hardly take notice. Hence, my view is that until the Sikh Parents, the
Gurduara Parbandhaks, Bhais, Raagis, Gianis, Kathakaars change their attitude
by undergoing Refresher Courses mainly based on Gurbaani enshrined in the Guru
Granth Sahib from "Ek Oankaar Japp Jee Sahib to Mundavani", it is very difficult to
improve their outlook. Such Sikh Youth Camps are good provided they also lead
their lives as True Sikhs during 365 days.

Look at the weekend Congregations in the Gurduaras, come late, Mathaa Taik,
throw money before Raagis/Kathakaars, sit for a few minutes and occupy place
in Langar Hall. Thus one may go on attending Congregations for (80) years, the
person won't learn any thing. At the same time, there is hardly any Book, which
could be recommended for their reading because all these publications are
printed with an eye on their sale proceeds by mixing up the falsehood and half-
baked truth like the Hindi films. These days DVD's are also for earning money!!

My humble request is that such Camps should be based on the Gurus' Teachings
and Guru Granth Sahib. If any episode or narration does not conform to Gurbaani,
we should not share with the students. But Gur Bilas Patshai 6, Raag Mala, Bachiter
Natak, the socalled Dasam Granth, Nanakshahi Calendar based on the Hindu Jantri
have added more problems and being exploited by the Hinduised Sikhs, who have
been claiming to be the Custodians of Sikh Religion such as SGPC, SAD, CKD, AkJ,
DDT, Deravaad and other various Committees, Dals, Federations, Groups, Parties!!!

I am sorry that I am unable to suggest any remedy because none is ready to learn,
nor anyone has the capacity to teach because they themselves don't know except
"Rotiaan Kaaran Purahy Tall..."

With best wishes and Chardi Kalaa,

Gurmit Singh (Australia)



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