Friday, August 12, 2016

Toronto Singhs Camp 2016...

With the blessings of Guru Sahib, Toronto Singhs Camp 2016 was held from Wednesday June 22nd to Sunday June 26th. This is the sixth year the camp has been running. Toronto Singhs Camp provides inspiration and motivation to young and old who want to discover the essence of Sikhi. The camp is aimed to reach out to people of different backgrounds and levels of understanding of Sikhi. Bhai Jaspual Singh and the organising team of sevadaars are doing a great job with Guru Ji's Kirpaa. The group continue with seva beyond the camp with regular Amrit-vela sessions, weekly Simran programme, community seva and fun activities.

During the Toronto trip I stayed with Bhai Jaswant Singh Ji, brother-in-law of Giani Kulwinder Singh who used to live in Derby (UK) but now in Surrey, Canada. Staying with Bhai Sahib and Bibi Ji was very inspirational. The amount of humility they have and dedication for Naam, Bani and Rehat is motivational. 

This year's Toronto Singhs Camp camp was attended by around 70 people. The camp is aimed at people aged 17 years and above, however had some younger teenagers who also benefited from the Sangat, Seva, and Simran. It is a great opportunity to experience Sikhi in a relaxed, friendly and spiritually charged environment. This year, Toronto Singhs Camp took place at Pearson Williams Christian Center in London, Ontorio. The beautiful natural surroundings helped to connect with and appreciate the Creator and creation.
This year's workshop facilitators included Bhai Amaninder Singh (Toronto), Bhai Sukhwinder Singh 'Sukhi Baba' (UK), Bhai Manmohan Singh (California), and Bhai Mani Singh (Toronto). The theme of the camp was "conquering the mind".  Each year the camp organisers pick thoughtful topics that are relevant to the daily lives of campers. 1430 angs (respected word for pages) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji talk and instruct the mind. The mind is a very powerful thing that can either stoop low to lead to destruction of humanity and chaos, or be elevated beyond limits to beautify oneself and the world around them.

The first workshop was by Bhai Amaninder Singh on 'Simran and the Mind'. Veer Ji talked about how Simran helps the mind reach its potential, the benefits of Simran and how we can incorporate Simran and Naam in our daily lives.
The second workshop was by Bhai Sukhwinder Singh on 'Fear and the Mind'. Veer Ji talked about what is fear, why we fear things and how Guru Ji helps us to overcome fears and become fearless.
The third workshop was by Bhai Manmohan Singh on 'Prominent Gursikhs'. He shared his personal experience of meeting Gursikhs that had reached high limits with their mind that their lives were a personal inspiration for him and how they inspired him to take up singing Gurbani instead of worldly songs and later to take Amrit.
The fourth workshop seva was given to Daas. The topic was 'Rehat and the Mind'. Gurbani says that "Keeping the True way of life, the Mind will become True." Gurbani guides us that we can guide, strength and elevate our mind through disciplining ourselves from outside with the Guru-given code of conduct. Campers explored how wearing the Panj Kakkaar and refraining from Kurehats (prohibitions) instructed by the Guru help and guide the individual's mind.  

The fifth workshop was by Bhai Sukhwinder Singh on 'Depression, Anxiety and the Mind.' The topic was well chosen as it is very relevant topic that touches the lives of many individuals and families. Sadly, as a Punjabi community we don't talk about mental health openly. Veer Ji's wife works in the Mental Health sector, which helped Veer Ji to provide an insight on the effects and consequences of mental health, as well as how we can best support loved ones going through mental health issues. It was a very emotional workshop and well appreciated by the whole Sangat.
The sixth workshop seva was given to Daas. The topic was 'What is the Mind?' The workshop was based on Gurbani and what Gurbani says about the Mind. Gurbani mentions that the Mind is reborn again and again, and therefore does not die with the body. The Mind is powerful that it can create, destroy, elevate or sink. The Mind can look out, and look within. The Mind is influenced by sensory organs which pick up information from the world around. The corruption of the sensory organs leads to corruption and poison within, that leads to the birth of vices - lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. The workshop ended with vichaar on the theme Shabad and how Gurbani tells us we can conquer the mind.
Some photos from the camp:

Camp started with a bonfire. Bhai Mani Singh made a fire without assistance of a flame!

First night - bonfire and ice-breaker with Bhai Sukhwinder Singh entertaining the Canadian Sangat with British humour :)

Satguru Ji's Saroop being taken with respect and grandeur to the Darbaar Sahib in the early hours of Amrit-Vela.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in their fully glory in the Darbaar Sahib

Amrit-Vela Nitnem

 Morning Nitnem

Darbaar Sahib building

 Aasa Kee Vaar - Bhai Bir Singh Ji
If I could give someone the "Degh Sevadaar of the Year Award" it would by Bhai Bir Singh Ji of Toronto. Veer Ji did immense seva at the camp of single-handedly making Degh for the whole camp and carrying it across the Darbaar Sahib. Veer Ji has recently embraced Gursikhi, and shared lots of pyaar and devotion with the Sangat.
If I could give someone "Sevadaar of the Year Award" I would give to Bhai Jaspaul Singh who does so much behind the scenes of seva of setting up not only Singhs Camp but other camps for children, but remains humble and grounded. Veer Jee throughout the camp recorded the workshops and keertans, and has uploaded them on the Singhs Camp Toronto YouTube page.

There would be no Singhs Camp Toronto without full out Langar. As every year, this year the Langar Sevadaars did immense seva in providing Langar to the campers.
Pre-Breakfast langar (starter dish).

Singhs taken laahaa (benefit) of Seva and washing the dishes of the Sangat.

As always Singhs Camp has a wide range of physical activities that are very impressive. These are photos of Singhs doing archery. Some Singhs seem to be taking it quite seriously.

The highlight of the activities was paintballing. I personally didn't do it, but Singhs got covered with paint and had a mock battle. There was sounds of gun fire and smoke! It felt like being on a battlefield. 

 Group photo

 With Bhai Gagan Singh (Surrey-wale)

 In the evening Satguru Ji's seva is done again with great grandeur. It is always inpsiring to see the devotion and care given to the Seva of Maharaaj.

Langar Sevadaars always on the go for serving Langar to campers! Very dedicated team of Sevadaars who didn't even show they were tired!

Evening Langar (round 1).

This was the Sarbloh Langar breakfast, lunch and evening meal.... a generous helping of Degh! :)

Bhai Manmohan Singh Ji's Keertan workshop
  Early morning photo of beautiful scenary
 Early morning photo of beautiful scenary

Group photo

Keertan during activities

Sangat following Guru Ji to Sukhaasan area

Service fit for a king!

Guru Ji's Sukhaasan

On the last night there was a Rainsbaaee Keertan

Sukhaasan Seva after Rainsbaaee 

Campers doing Keertan during last divaan on last day of camp

The camp ended with Bhai Manmohan Singh Ji singing the theme Shabad.

After Singhs Camp I had the opportunity to meet the Gurmat Bibek Singhs. Very blessed Rehatvaan and knowledgeable Gursikhs.

With family of Bhai Atamjit Singh with whom I stayed

YouTube links to camp workshop videos:
Workshop 1 - Simran and the Mind
Workshop 2 - Fear and the Mind
Workshop 3 - Rehat and the Mind
Workshop 4 - Prominent Gursikhs
Workshop 5 - Anxiety, Depression and the Mind
Workshop 6 - What is the Mind

YouTube links to camp keertan videos:
Bhai Manmohan Singh - sukh prabh simran kaa ant na paar
Bhai Sukhwinder Singh - Aarti Aarta and Keertan
Bhai Gursev Singh (Waterloo) - Rehraas Sahib (Keertan)
Bhai Pritpal Singh (Regina) - Jaap Saahib (Keertan)

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