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 leave…it’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.