The building where the campers stayed has been quiet for a few weeks now: the rooms cleaned, the sheets washed. But the memories of the campers and their impact on the community will not be swept away.
Many of the participants (and mentors) had other plans for the summer, other ideas of how to spend their free time away from school and other commitments, but they spent one month on intense spiritual development together, as part of a group that will never be forgotten by all.
The activities and events included an adventure day (zip-lining through the forest, rock-climbing); performing in the annual Radhadesh Summer Festival; harinam in Belgium’s cities; a three-day seminar on chanting by Kadamba Kanana Swami; the Paris Rathayatra festival; and many classes on Vaishnava culture, including mrdanga and Bharatnatyam classes.
And then there were the football matches, some planned into the daily schedule, and most spontaneously organized by the campers.
The campers’ days were long, and full of variety and excitement.
As Pallavi Advani (16) said, “We were kept busy with some activity or another that was always fun or interesting, and we never got bored.”
For many, the spiritual aspect of the camp, the sadhana, was a first, or at least the first time they’d willingly done these things: chanting japa, attending temple programs, and doing regular devotional service at the temple.
Many said that they found Krishna consciousness fun, not a boring religious activity. They enjoyed it and desired to do it on their own. They gained appreciation for the Deities’ beauty and the importance of serving the Deities by doing sadhana and taking part in the temple programs.
The evening bhajans were another component of their realizations, they said, as was the sweet association that the Radhadesh community offered them and the subtle Vaishnava qualities their mentors displayed for them in everyday dealings.
The community was “so welcoming and always made us feel at home,” said Pallavi.
The Radhadesh community would love to receive them back soon.
Written by Kumari Sherreitt
Gayathri Jayanathan (24): Sports, classes, adventure, a countryside environment, temple-ashram life, spiritual workshops — all these and so much more gave campers a blend of fun and spirituality all the way! Having grown up amid workaholics running a rat race in the concrete jungle of Dubai, I became completely fascinated by the rural atmosphere at Chateau de Petite Somme: the temple’s sanctity, the natural beauty, cool morning breezes, and the happy devotional faces.I noticed my life transform, and I experienced pure bliss living the temple-ashram life. I got the opportunity of a lifetime to perform services, from preparing prasada to serving all the devotees and visitors.The summer camp offered classes on cooking, garland-making, martial arts such as taekwondo, and playing instruments like the mrdanga. We also had morning scriptural studies, conducted by learned devotees on topics such as science and spirituality, the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and more. Our day plans were chalked-out by our mentors, and each exciting day proved different and made the next day worth looking forward to.My experiences at Radhadesh would have been imperfect without the care and guidance of our fun-loving, friendly mentors: Kumari Sherriett, Krsnadasa and Manu, and the organizer, Mangala Chandrika. All the wonderful, energetic devotees at Radhadesh were great.