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                         Chal Chal Purato Nidhehi Charanam |  

                         Sadaiva Purato Nidhehi Charanam || 

"Always keep moving ahead, endlessly and tirelessly, towards the goal"

The above geet (song) aptly describes the mood of the mid-west Sangh Shiksha Varg held from 24th July to 31st july at Bloomington, IL. The varg brought together youth from different regions of midwest sambhag, who were further guided by various dignitaries and sangh adhikaaris. The ambience and zeal in the seven day varg was comparable to a 'yajna' with youngsters being the 'samidha' giving away their heart and mind to the Hindu society.

The striking thing about this 'yajna' was the diversity of people involved. On the camp site, there were 5 parallel camps held within a span of one week. While the SSV had representation from almost all vibhags (sub-zones) of midwest, Hindu Heritage Camp brought in 45 kids from Illinois and neighboring areas. Through the Vanaprasthi varg, 10 very experienced and highly intellectual persons shared their thoughts. For the local people an evening camp was arranged which was attended by 21 people over the week.

The last two days were in hyper-charged mode due to presence of 51 dedicated karyakartas from all over midwest. Finally, the total number of shiksharthis in SSV was 21 which included 4 part-time shiksharthis. There were 4 shikshaks for the varg and obviously Shri Saumitra ji Gokhale was also there to guide the shikshaks. Of all the camps, the SSV was unique due to its gender balance, as there were exactly same numbers of sevikas as there were sevaks.

Hence, in one week of time, the camp-site witnessed 5 camps and 153 participants, excluding vyavastha (organisers), visiting adhikaaris (office bearers) and local community visitors.

The SSV and other camps began on 24th July with 'deep prajwalan' ceremony presided by 'sarvadhikari' Shri Vimal ji Patel. The ceremony was attended by local dignitaries, Vanaprasthi karyakartas, Hindu Heritage Camp attendees and their parents. Given the average age of shiksharthis in SSV, it was evident right from the beginning that some very energetic and high spirited days were ahead of us. The SSV shikshaks immediately had to shift gears who were prepared for a more heterogeneous group.

However, every one was well into comfortable zone immediately after the ice-breaker games and introduction sessions. Even the 'praathmik' gana (first time attendees) were quite relaxed and were seen mingling with others.

The coming 7 days bore the myriad colors of a rainbow, each one unique and individual in its own way. Two shakhas were held each day consisting yoga, samta, dand, niyuddha, aachaar paddhati and ever popular games. The games were planned in such a way that each session exposed shiksharthis to new class of games. However, surprise hit was a game called 'Dand Gol' which made fans in both sevikas and sevaks gana. Each shiksharthi took immense interest in vishay (subject) of their choice and learnt as they enjoyed.

Overall shareerik (physical) portion of the varg kept everyone on toes throughout the day. The vyavastha team was not to be outdone with rigorous shareerik schedule of SSV and made sure everyone was re-fueled and charged up by arranging luscious mouth-watering crowd-pleasing dishes to savor.

Another highlight of this varg was its bauddhik lineup. It was, as shiksharhis call it, "star studded varg!" having very impressive vaktas (speakers). It was an honor and a lifetime opportunity for every one to listen and interact with P.P. Sarsanghchalak ji. His presence electrified the whole atmosphere. People were amazed to see the simplicity and accessibility of the head of biggest voluntary organization in the world. P.P. Sudarshan ji certainly left an indelible mark in the hearts of varg shiksharthis, shikshaks and adhikaris.

Similarly vaktas like Shri Shankar ji Tattvawadi, Shri Ved ji Nanda, Shri Arun ji Kankani, Shri Saumitra ji Gokhale, Shri Ram ji Shastry, Shri Vasant ji Pandav, Shri Milind ji Deshpande, and Shri Kavindra ji (Jeffery Armstrong), moved everyone and galvanized their thought process. The various discussion sessions and workshops covered a wide range of topics which dealt with more day to day issues confronting today’s youth in USA.

If there is a parameter to measure success of the SSV, it certainly is the enthusiasm of shiksharthis in ratri karyakram (night programmes) and in leisure time. Every night the exuberance in ratri karyakram left adhikaris and shikshaks wondering if they should have more strenuous shareerik for the coming day.

In the leisure time, only people found sleeping were shikshaks, while shiksharthis had fun with game called 'lagori'. Some even preferred polishing their 'ghosh' skills or interacting with adhikaris. In all, everyone had tremendous fun and learnt lot of new things.

It was a completely new experience for some people while other were veterans in 'varg'ing, but irrespective of their experience everyone took home some message or the other. However, by the end of the SSV if one thing was common in the minds of attendees then it was that we not only need to "chal chal purato" but it is together that we need to move towards the dhyeya!