10 Great Spiritual Camps, Courses and Classes for children

Spiritual camps for children
Children in SRF Summer camp

All of us who follow the teachings of Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, want our children also to experience the joy, love, and satisfaction we have felt by following the teachings.

Sending our children to spiritual camps and classes is a big step in this direction. As of now, SRF YSS Spiritual camps for children are available only in two cities in the world so many parents cannot send their children to these camps. So, in addition to SRF YSS camps, we will look at a few other Spiritual camps and classes for children conducted by some well-known Spiritual organizations.

Please note that none of these programs conducted by other organizations are as deep as the ones by SRF YSS but children have a lot to learn from them as well.

Before we go further, it is important to keep this quote of Sri Daya Mata in mind:

I believe a child should be encouraged to go to Sunday school, but that he should never be compelled to do so. It is a mistake to try to force a child in to any particular religious mould. First he has to have a desire for and an interest in things spiritual. This inclination will be there if from a very early age he is encouraged in cultivating spiritual attitudes: love for God, faith in God, a feeling of companionship with Him.

~ Sri Daya Mata
From the book: “The Skilled Profession of Child-Rearing

Table of Contents

  1. Self Realization Fellowship / Yogoda Satsanga Society of India
    1. SRF Summer Day Program
      1. Contents of the Program
      2. For more information
    2. YSS Summer camp for children
      1. For more information:
    3. SRF and YSS Sunday classes for children
      1. For more information:
    4. SRF teen program
      1. For more information:
  2. Art of Living Foundation
    1. Art Excel (called ‘Utkarsh Yoga’ in India)
    2. YES course (called ‘Medha Yoga’ in India)
    3. What is Sudarshan Kriya?
    4. How to Register?
    5. Pros of Art Excel and YES course
    6. Cons of Art Excel and YES course
  3. Isha Foundation
    1. Isha Yoga Classes for Children
    2. Isha Summer Program
  4. Chinmaya Mission (Weekly classes only)
    1. Bal Vihar (5-12 years)
    2. Junior CHYK (13-17 YEARS)
  5. Other programs near you
  6. Great organizations with no programs for children
  7. Conclusion

Self Realization Fellowship / Yogoda Satsanga Society of India

SRF Summer Day Program

Location: Encinitas, California, US
Age group: 7 to 12 years old children and 13 to 18 years old teens
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (in 2018)
Duration: 5 days
When: Generally conducted in June, every year
Website: click here

SRF Summer day program Girls

Contents of the Program

From SRF Website:

Through the practice of monastic-led Energization Exercises, meditation, satsangas, and other programs exploring Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings, youth will be able to discover the inner strength so needed in today’s world in order to make choices that lead to a deeply satisfying inner and outer life.
There will also be a special pilgrimage outing to spend time at the SRF Encinitas Hermitage and meditation gardens, where Paramahansa Yogananda lived and communed with God for so many years. In addition, there will be numerous interactive activities that make use of an amphitheater, music room, technology lab, conservation hiking trail, basketball court, and soccer/track field.


Retreat: SRF also conducts teen retreats once or twice a year. Click here to know more.

For more information

Website: click here
Email: YouthServices@yogananda-srf.org
Phone: (818) 549-5160

YSS Summer camp for children

Location: Noida (Near New-Delhi), India
Age group: Boys of classes 7 or 8 and Girls of Class 6, 7 or 8
Duration: Around 5 days
When: Generally conducted in June, every year
Website: noida.ysskendra.org

YSS conducts summer camps for children in YSS Noida ashram.

Swami Ishwarananda ji of YSS talking to children
Swami Ishwarananda ji talking to children during Girls summer camp

For more information:

Website: noida.ysskendra.org
Phone (landline): (0120) 2400670, 2401669-76 (8 lines)
Phone (mobile): 9899811808, 9899811909
Email: noidaashram@yssi.org

SRF and YSS Sunday classes for children

Age group: 3 to 12 years
Location: Available in many SRF YSS temples, ashrams and centers around the world. Contact your nearest SRF YSS meditation center to know about availability of this program.
Frequency: Once a week on Sunday

Children doing the healing technique of YSS
Children doing the healing technique

From the website:

The purpose of SRF Sunday Schools is to inspire children to seek God and love Him above all else, and to share His love with all. In this way they come to understand that inner peace and security are found through an inner relationship with God and not through “the things of this world.”

For more information:

Contact: Contact your nearest SRF YSS temple/ashram, center/kendra or group/mandali.
Website:
SRF Sunday school
YSS Sunday school

SRF teen program

Age group: 13 to 18 years
Location: Available in many SRF temples and centers around the world. Contact your nearest SRF meditation center to know about availability of this program.
Frequency: Usually on Sunday mornings while the service for adults is taking place.

Self Realization Fellowship teen program

From the website:

The primary purpose of the teen programs is study and practice of the Self-Realization Fellowship teachings. Meetings include group instruction and practice of the Energization Exercises and meditation. Other spiritual activities such as kirtan (devotional chanting), the practice of affirmations, introspection, and observance of commemoration days for the SRF Gurus also take place (programs at each location may vary).

For more information:

Contact: Contact your nearest SRF YSS temple/ashram, center/kendra or group/mandali.
Website:
SRF Teen programs


Art of Living Foundation

Focus: Stress free living through meditation, Hatha yoga, social skills, etc.

Art of Living is an extremely popular spiritual organization in India and is now widely spread through out the world.

From their website:

Founded in 1981 by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living is an educational and humanitarian movement engaged in stress-management and service initiatives. The organization operates globally in 155 countries and has touched the lives of over 370 million people.

Official website: https://www.artofliving.org

They do not have any specific summer programs for children but here are a few good programs that are conducted throughout the year in many countries.

Art Excel (called ‘Utkarsh Yoga’ in India)

Ages: 8-13 years
Locations:

Duration: 4 - 6 days
Time per day: 3 to 4 hours
Website (global): artofliving.org/art-excel
Website (India): artofliving.org/in-en/utkarsha-yoga


Program contents:

  • Sudarshan Kriya (Explained below)
  • Meditation and breathing techniques
  • Simple tenets for daily life
  • Techniques for overcoming fear and anxiety
  • Interactive processes
  • Team games
  • Food awareness
  • Group discussions
  • Outdoor activities (where possible)
  • Learning through fun and games
  • Service to others

How to register: click here
Pros and cons of this program: click here

YES course (called ‘Medha Yoga’ in India)

Ages: 13+ years
Course duration: 4 to 6 days
Time per day: 3 to 4 hours
Locations:


Program Contents:

  • Sudarshan Kriya (Explained below)
  • Meditation and breathing techniques
  • Simple tenets for daily life
  • Techniques for mental focus and concentration
  • Techniques for overcoming fear and anxiety
  • Interactive processes
  • Team games
  • Food awareness
  • Group discussions
  • Outdoor activities
  • Learning through fun and games
  • Service to others
  • Confidence-building and leadership

Website(India): https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/medha-yoga-level-1
Website(Global): artofliving.org/youth-empowerment-seminar-yes

What is Sudarshan Kriya?

According to official website:

A simple yet powerful rhythmic breathing technique that de-stresses, and cleanses at the cellular level, and effectively draws you into a deep state of meditation.

A few facts:

  • It has nothing in common with Kriya Yoga, except the name.
  • Many scientific studies have shown that it works very well in reducing the stress levels and calming the mind.
  • Regarding its origin, the founder of The Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravishankar, says: “During a ten-day period of silence, the Sudarshan Kriya came like an inspiration. Nature knows what to give and when to give. After I came out of the silence, I started teaching whatever I knew and people had great experiences.”

To know more: https://www.artofliving.org/sudarshan-kriya

How to Register?

India:
Call on Helpline number: +91 8067612345 (Monday - Sunday : 8 am - 8 pm IST)
Or use this website: Click here
Global: click here

Help: Finding the program near you can be bit tricky, if you need help, write in the comment section of this article.

Pros of Art Excel and YES course

  • They are generally well organized and available widely.
  • Meditation technique (Sudarshan Kriya) taught by them is easy to do.

Cons of Art Excel and YES course

  • They do not focus on God and building relationship with Him.
  • The course is not conducted by monastics, but by trained teachers.

Note: If you face any issues in finding a program or in registration, please write in comments.


Isha Foundation

Focus: Yoga meditation, Hatha yoga, Devotion to Shiva, etc.

Isha Foundation, founded by Jaggi Vasudev (Sadhguru), is also a popular spiritual organization in India and is spread around the world.

Official website: http://www.ishafoundation.org/

Isha Yoga Classes for Children

Age group: 7-14 years
Duration: 5-8 days

Isha foundation --- program for kids

From the official website:

The program introduces yoga to children, led through an exploration of fun, love and joy, allowing each child to develop and live in optimal health and inner peace. It is offered by Isha Foundation teachers, trained under the guidance of Sadhguru.

Isha Yoga Children’s program consists of an introduction to yoga practices including a few simple life enhancing asanas and kriyas. The program content is presented through fun games and play so that children experience a sense of belonging and unity with life.

Participants of Isha Yoga Children’s programs often experience enhanced concentration and memory, more focus, and improved mind-body coordination. The practices learnt help prevent obesity, asthma, sinusitis and other chronic ailments.

Find program and Register: Click here
(On the above link please use the right sidebar to find the program)

Help: Finding the program near you can be bit tricky, if you need help, write in the comment section of this article.

Website: Click here

Isha Summer Program

Location: Coimbatore (Southern India), McMinnville- TN (United States)
Age group: 7-13 years
Duration: 8 days
Charges: Rs 16,500 (India) and $995 (United states)
(Read this article to know the reason for such high charges)

Please note: Seats for this program are completely full for 2018

From official website:

Offered by Isha Foundation teachers trained under the guidance of realized yogi, Sadhguru, Isha Summer Program for Children is an 8-day, residential summer camp that introduces yoga to children through an exploration of fun, love and joy.The program offers simple, life-enhancing asanas (yoga postures) and kriyas (inner energy processes) that support and nurture your child to develop and maintain optimal health and inner peace.

Specially-designed for children ages 7-13, this enriching program will bring the subtleties of life into your child’s awareness through exposure to nature, conservation, and hands-on arts, science and team activities. Children become more responsible and responsive to individuals and situations, develop a love and respect for the interconnectedness of life, and improve their overall health, wellbeing, and confidence.

An official article on this camp: Click here
US Website & Registration: Click here
Registration (India) Click here

Help: Finding the program can be bit tricky, if you need help, write in the comment section of this article.


Chinmaya Mission (Weekly classes only)

Important note: They do not offer any Spiritual camps or courses for children. They only offer weekly classes, similar to SRF YSS Sunday school.

Availability: The organization has 300+ centers around the world: check them here. Please call the nearest center and ask if childrens’ weekly classes called ‘Balvihar’ are conducted at that center.

Help: Finding the centers can be bit tricky, if you need help, write in the comment section of this article.

From wikipedia:

Chinmaya Mission is a Hindu spiritual organisation engaged in the dissemination of Vedanta, the science of the self as expounded in the Vedas, particularly the Upanishads, and other important Hindu scriptures including the Bhagavad Gita. The Chinmaya Mission was established in India in 1953 by devotees of the renowned Vedanta teacher Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati.

Sw. Shradhanandaji of YSS presenting Krishna's Photo to Sw. Tejomayananda of Chinmaya mission
Sw. Shradhanandaji of YSS presenting Sri Krishna's photo to Sw. Tejomayananda, former head of Chinmaya mission

Please note: They do not seem to focus much on meditation or yoga. Their primary focus is moral development, relationship with God (Devotion), ancient Hindu texts (Gita, Ramayana, Upanishads, etc), Indian Tradition, etc.

Bal Vihar (5-12 years)

Focus areas: Stories from Hindu scriptures, character development, devotion to God, Indian culture, etc.
Frequency: One class per week


Contents of the program:
According to their website:

The stories, games, celebration of festivals and creative activities enable children to connect with Indian culture in an engaging way. The Sanskrit prayers, bhajans and chanting give them a solid grounding in Hindu culture and the eternal values presented in story form are drawn from the vast gamut of Indian Scripture.

How to Register?
The organization has 300+ centers around the world: check them here. Please call the nearest center and ask if childrens’ weekly classes called ‘Balvihar’ are conducted at that center.
(On the above link please use the left sidebar to filter the centers according to Country and State)

Help: Finding the program near you can be bit tricky, if you need help, write in the comment section of this article.

Common website for all programs: http://www.chinmayauk.org/wings/bal-vihar/

Junior CHYK (13-17 YEARS)

Frequency: One class per week

Contents of the program:

Junior CHYK weekly classes provide an opportunity for teenagers to explore issues that affect their everyday lives with experienced co-ordinators based on the timeless values contained within Indian philosophy. They also meet with other youth groups, enjoy cultural celebrations and participate in community work.

Topics such as peer pressure, relationships, higher education and choice of career are addressed through discussion, debate and interactive workshops and the principles enshrined within Hinduism are brought to life through their application to these very real problems and dilemmas.

Exposure to values from the Scriptures equip teenagers not only to face life, but to tap into their inner, infinite potential to become dynamic young men and women of integrity.

How to Register?
The organization has 300+ centers around the world: check them here. Please call your nearest center and ask if childrens’ weekly classes called ‘Balvihar’ are conducted at that center.
(On the above link please use the left sidebar to filter the centers according to Country and State)

Help: Finding the program can be bit tricky, if you need help, write in the comment section of this article.

Common website for all programs: http://www.chinmayauk.org/wings/bal-vihar/

Other programs near you

If none of the above programs of any of the organizations’ suite you, use Google to find meditation classes, devotional classes or Gita classes for children in your area. You can also ask me to help you in finding the right kind of classes in your area.

Great organizations with no programs for children

Many organizations were surveyed to find good children programs for this article. Here are a few of those which have a good reputation but do not seem to have any well established spiritual programs for children: Mata Amritanandamayi’s organization, Anandamayi ma’s organization, Sri Ramana Maharishi’s ashram, Neem Karoli Baba’s ashram, Joel Osteen’s Ministry, etc.

Conclusion

We had a look at 10 spiritual camps and classes for children conducted by some reputable spiritual organizations in many parts of the world. I hope you will find some good classes for your child in your city. If you can’t, let me know in comments. I will try to help you out.

If you know about any other good spiritual classes conducted by a reputable Spiritual organization or group, please share that too in the comments.

namaste

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