by Nataly Nitsche
“Why are you grateful for today?” I asked the boy at the beginning of our Kumar Kumari class. “I am grateful for doing Yoga every day”
This past July (3rd-28th), the Dzamling Gar hosted a Yoga Kids Summer Camp for the first time: 1 month, 2 teachers, 18 kids, 150 meals served in Cafeteria, every day yoga and and an abundance of happiness.
The birth of the idea
The Yoga camp’s idea was a dream nurtured over several years. It finally became a reality as a step towards providing a safe, nurturing space for kids (and potentially teenagers). It was an answer to the needs of families, both from within and outside the Community, who faced the challenge of working while their children enjoyed their summer break. Moreover, it presented an opportunity for Dzamling Gar to connect with the local community and, if successful, become a regular annual event. A lot can be added on the reasons why such spaces are healthy and so necessary for the young minds these days, the answer to this question was my strongest motivation for creating this project. Here I will limit to share a little of the experience, hoping that it might inspire other people to do more of this kind of activities in our Gars, that are all wonderful places with huge potential!
An idea becomes reality
At some point it felt like all circumstances came together to give life to the program: I found Silvia Gallego García, an experienced Waldorf School teacher with training in mindfulness, who I trust and appreciate very much, as she used to be my daughter’s teacher in school. I knew it was a great possibility to be able to work together with her.
Also we could use ESPACIO Yoga Studio as a platform to organize the camp.
I coordinated the program and logistics while also teaching, not only for the Kumar Kumari lessons, but throughout the whole program as I am formed as a special education teacher and early childhood educator.
Lena Kalistova offered classes of origami and Khaita.
So we had a small “dream team” and all the support from the Dzamling Gar Gakyil.
The camp’s central theme was “Discovering Myself.” We explored this theme through yoga (Kumar Kumari or Yantra Yoga for children), mindfulness, collaborative games, arts and crafts, nature exploration, storytelling, and loads of fun! The camp was bilingual, with some activities in English and others in Spanish.
We had 18 kids aged 4 to 11, with 4 from our Community and the rest from the local school attended by many community kids or referrals. Each week, we had 11 to 13 kids.
A Typical Day
Our days followed a familiar routine:
- 08:30 AM: Educators’ arrival and day preparation.
- 09:00-09:30 AM: Welcoming families and children (Playground).
- 09:30-10:30 AM: Kumar Kumari and Mindfulness for kids (ESPACIO or Jyogur).
- 10:30-11:30 AM: Handwashing and snack time (Garden or Jyogur).
- 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Collaborative games/Khaita (Various locations).
- 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM: Activity related to the theme of the day (Garden, Lower Gonpa, Jyogur, Cafeteria).
- 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM: Handwashing and lunch (Cafeteria).
- 2:00 PM – 2:15 PM: Farewell and closing (Playground).
Kids could order lunch from Dzamling Gar Cafeteria or bring it from home, and at the end of the month 150 lunches were ordered in the cafeteria.
“My experience at the Yoga Camp with these wonderful children has been truly remarkable and something I would unquestionably do again. ‘Pleasant’ seems an understatement to describe it. Every morning, I was greeted by the harmonious echoes of mantras as I welcomed the children. We explored different captivating places, immersed in a palette of colors and the fragrances of hibiscus, bougainvilleas, plumerias, papaya trees, and lemon trees. These enchanting surroundings made our journeys between activities a pure delight.
The site itself is undeniably perfect for hosting children, offering them the chance to nourish not only their bodies but also their souls in such an idyllic setting.
I also cherish the relationships formed with the people who collaborated in the activities. Carles was ever attentive, ensuring our well-being; the cafeteria staff greeted us with constant smiles. The friendly soul at the information point even joined in a treasure hunt and was so kind. The ladies who frequented the cafeteria each morning with their dogs became a lovely routine of playing “”fetch” for the children (and the dogs). Every person we encountered treated us with kindness throughout our journey.
Our days followed a familiar rhythm, offering moments of tranquility, self-awareness, play, free movement, and artistic expression.
One highlight was Nataly’s morning yoga classes. The impact they had on the children, especially the older ones, was clear. While a few occasionally resisted at the idea of going to the class, not a single one wanted to end the class when it was time. They relished the post-exercise relaxation, that blissful state of calm that we all cherish when it graces us.
I must also commend the older children for their remarkable exhibition on the final day. They had been diligently working with Nataly throughout the month on the tale of “Nyima, Dawa, and the little Yak”. (a charming tale written by Laura Evangelisti & The Kumar Kumari Yantra Yoga Team) Through this beautiful story, they engaged in exercises that synchronized breath with movement. From my perspective, it was a powerful display of their capabilities. Witnessing their animated storytelling, with so much skill and coordination, was a genuine gift.
This is an experience I wholeheartedly endorse and eagerly anticipate repeating. I encourage everyone to partake in such a journey.”
We’re grateful for the openness and support from Gakyil and for the positive feedback from parents and Community members, (See videos below)
The camp exceeded our expectations. There are plans to repeat it next July, possibly combined with retreats for adults, making it a family-friendly event. It was a truly gratifying experience, and we look forward to even more exciting adventures next year!
And you, what are you grateful for today?
If you’re interested in our July 2024 camp, please contact us at email@example.com
Feel free to reach out if you’d like to organize a similar activity and would like to share experiences: firstname.lastname@example.org