Bhartiya Samaj’s Annual Children & Youth Summer Camp has gained immense popularity among the Indian community for the past 15 years, with 107 students enrolling in the camp for 2017.

Children aged from six to 14 can enrol for the five-day programme that involves indoor and outdoor activities. Twenty-five volunteers from different field of interests devote their time and energy to organise various workshops and activities.

The day at the camp starts off with prayer at 8 a.m. at Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall followed by 45 minutes of exercise and then breakfast at 10 a.m.

The students go through different workshops such as dancing, aerobic, arts and craft sessions, outdoor sports sessions, drama workshop, debate, extempore, public speaking, leadership, and music.

“I am fascinated to see how these children speak up during debate and public speaking sessions. They are enthusiastic, blatant, sharp, and witty at the same time. It is a pleasure to witness the children speaking their minds in these sessions,” Godrej Engineer, a mentor at the camp, said.

The summer camp helps the children open up about their aspirations and dreams and learn about their hidden talents.

“Through different activities we see children tapping such talents that they are not even aware of. They are aspiring storytellers, actors, singers, dancers, poets, debaters, orators, sports person, and artists,” Roopa Suchdev, director of the children camp, said.

The camp is supported by Auckland Council, Auckland Library, and NZ Police who trains and mentors the children on learning new skills.

Volunteer Simran Chadha holds the dance workshop, Smita Biswas hosts reading and recitation, Farheen Zia and Kashmira Kambata host art and craft sessions, music workshop is conducted by Vidya Teke, and Godrej Engineer holds drama and public speaking and leadership workshops.

“I like being here because I enjoy the most. I have made new friends and learned a little bit of dancing and singing, and I get to play with everyone here,” an 11-year old child at the camp said.

The workshop hosted by NZ Police educates them on how to be safe in school, how to stop bullying, abstaining from drug usage, safety in houses and playgrounds, how to react in an emergency, and how to help others in distress.

Children aged between six to nine are given recitation lessons from the specialised mentors from Auckland Library and are later supplied with workbooks where they draw, colour, and write.

“I was stunned to see these children saying dialogues in such a beautiful manner in the drama sessions; crisp and making such intelligent conversations. It’s incredible what they are capable of,” Kal Kular, a mentor at the camp, said.

“There are so many things life skills that children do not get a chance to learn in school because they are often too held up in their academics. Such camps allow them to learn more about arts and culture bring out the creative child in them,” Ms Suchdev said.

The children are divided into different age groups and the activities allocated to them are monitored by one or more mentors. The sessions go from eight in the morning to five in the evening.

Activities are conducted in The War Memorial halls, their sports grounds, and the Bhartiya Samaj hall. On the last day of the camp, Friday, January 13, the camp is scheduled to visit Olympic Park in New Lynn for Indian sports activities such as kho kho and kabaddi.