By Jaszmine Palia (Co-ordinator, XYZ Summer Camp 2014 Colaba)
“Ushtaa Hachaane” – “Pursuit of Happiness” is the motto of XYZ or Xtremely Young Zoroastrians. That to my mind is especially is befitting the children of a community whose religious ethos is to live life in the pursuit of “The Good Mind”-“The Vohu Mano”.
The pilot project of XYZ; it’s summer camp kicked off across 4 centres in May in Mumbai.
As a volunteer for the Colaba camp, I was quite surprised to know that we had registered 72 children between the ages of 5 to 15 years. The camp started with a two hour orientation for parents and children of the Camp. Hoshaang Gotla, the heart of XYZ, spoke to the participants about the mission of XYZ, explained in detail the camp program and answered queries the parents had. This was followed by minute to win it games for all. Parent and child reams played games, enjoyed thoroughly by all.
The camp program was carefully planned down to the last detail to include a balanced variety of activities that helped the children learn and have a great time doing it. Various outdoor games like sankli, langdi, nargolia, dodgeball and a never before played game “crickball” were taught to the children who competed keenly to win these in their teams. One morning was spent hosting the children from Rustom Baug who came to play “Crikball” with the Cusrow Baug Team. On another day Rustom Baug hosted the Cusrow Baug teams in keenly contested Telegames.
One afternoon saw the children playing different activity games to develop their thinking abilities, to sharpen their sense training and have their first introduction to Gujarati writing. Games foster team spirit, cooperation and children learn new skills in a play way without the boring classroom format. The children prepared little performances based on the names of their teams – all of whom were ancient Persian Kings.
The children were also introduced to Monajats which they set to their own music. This competition gave free reign to the kids imagination and musical abilities. The results were much fun for the kids, their judge and all the spectators! A 30 second Gujarati speaking competition provided much amusement to all, but also made the kids realize that this was their very own language; one they had all forgotten about. The life story of Prophet Zarathustra was introduced to the kids in a play format. Different teams acted out the story in sequence.
The children visited the BJ Home for the protection of children where, they met and played with the 60 children housed there. The children of BJ home put up little dance performances for our children and shared snacks and cold drinks together.
The last day of camp was celebrated at the Bhikha Behram Well with a jashan to mark the formal inauguration of XYZ as an independent Trust. This was followed by a valedictory function and lunch for parents and children at Cusrow Baug.
That the children had had a blast in camp was evident by the many smiling faces that surrounded us and their reluctance to leave at the end of each day. The children and the volunteers all had a very happy time. Friendships were forged, history was revisited, games and competitions saw much cheering and celebrating. That surely is a benchmark for a successful event!