I remember coming home from National CHYK Camp and receiving a message from a friend asking me how camp was. At the time, I was still thinking about all the logical and yet perspective-shifting knowledge we’d received to give a proper answer so I responded with something like, “yeah it was fantastic, how was your weekend?” which is a pretty average response considering that my weekend was a little bit more than just ‘fantastic’. So, a few days ago, when I sat down to write about my experience at camp, I thought about the same question and here’s what I wish I told my friend:

Since camp, my attitude has changed entirely – every day has become an opportunity to challenge myself and to develop my skills. Every boring activity is an opportunity to build mindfulness so that I can excel when new opportunities arise. And most of all, I’ve become more aware of how every single action I do, from the way I make my cereal in the morning to the way I study for exams, is within my control. Every moment is an opportunity that is full of potential or just an unforgotten moment in the past and it’s all really just a matter of choice. This is probably one of the most empowering lessons I took away from camp. The sense of fulfilment in every action, and the motivation to achieve your goal/clarity to create goals, means that waking up every morning is an exciting process rather than a tiresome one.

So, if you ask me about my favourite aspect of camp, I’ll still get all excited and ramble on about how good the food was, and all the great people there, and how we would try and get to talks as early as possible so we could secure front row seats, and the surreal silence of the morning mediation sessions and the hilarious activities – but despite all those incredible things, my favourite thing about camp would have to be the feeling of waking up every day and knowing that today, I am going to be better than I have ever been (which means that tomorrow, I will have to opportunity to supersede that!). There’s not a lot that beats the feeling of not only knowing where you want to go in life, but also having the complete ownership over the process of getting there.

So, to my friend who asked “how was camp?”, and to pretty much any person who has any remote interest in improving their quality of living in any way, I would love to tell you more and more about everything that camp was, but really, the only fitting response I have is, “Why weren’t you there?”.

Author: Aashritha Kumar

Date Published: 5th May, 2016



Few subjects are as relevant and universal as that particular emotion which is often on our minds, an upliftment that has the potential to transform life, an ideal that some spend years searching for and working toward. That subject is none other than love. Whether it is love for another person, love for an ideal, or love for ourselves, love is the key to happiness and there is much to be known about this topic. Over 100 young adults aged 18-35 soon discovered this as they embarked on the quest for knowledge over a weekend in April 2015. The focus of National Chyk Camp 2015 was love, and seekers from across Australia attended the camp full of questions and in eagerness to find out what true love really is. Who better to answer these questions than the one who has spent a lifetime mastering life and love; Swami Swaroopananda.

National Chyk Camp was held in the natural surrounds of south-west Sydney, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the suburbs, and the perfect location to relax and absorb the powerful lessons expounded during the retreat. The youth gathered every morning, afternoon, and evening to listen to Swamiji’s discourses on love, based on the emotive text ‘I Love You Letters’ written by none other than Swami Chinmayananda himself in the 1970’s as he wrote letters of love to the young children of Chinmaya Mission from the foothills of the Himalayas. Swamiji brought to life the timeless stories and lessons that Gurudev had illustrated 30 years earlier, in a way that was captivating, riveting, and humorous. There are few speakers as lively, powerful, and entertaining as Swamiji and very few are able to convey messages in such a powerful and effective manner.

The lessons from the talks were reinforced with daily study sessions where smaller groups discussed and reflected on the particular topics with like-minded youth. These sessions were a great way to bond over the learnings and to share and listen to experiences and ideas. These were complemented with fun activities and games as well as more light-hearted performances covering topics such as Bollywood love, and love through the ages. Reflection time was allocated for youth to introspect on what they had learnt that day and camp-goers realised that their perceptions of love began to change.

Lifelong friendships were made over delicious vegetarian meals served throughout the day, and people bonded over an evening bonfire under the stars. Spirits were uplifted with bhajans and music when talented youth performed using instruments and voice. Some of the youth also took the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with Swamiji to clear their doubts and obtain personalised advice. For every one of us, the question and answer session on the last day of camp was truly moving and left us with lifelong lessons about love and how it can transform our lives if we allow it to.

We often seek love in the wrong places, people, and situations which leads to disappointment when love is not returned, whereas we often fail to recognise that love is in and around us, in nature, in our family and friends, and in every opportunity we are presented with in life. We often find ourselves becoming the taker of love but rather we must give love freely and without expectation. We often play the role of the supressed victim or the oppressor, whereas higher love is liberating and our true nature. We often form attachments which are temporary and destructive, but true love is selfless, giving, and uplifting. We seek love outside of ourselves, whereas we must take the opportunity to know ourselves, and to cultivate love for ourselves. It was reiterated to us over and over that we must be active givers of love rather than simply passive takers. The world is an echo of our personality; give love and love will be returned.

Swamiji conducted the camp in a relevant and practical manner designed for the youth of today. The lessons were timeless and universal. From teachings on marriage, to opening our hearts, to loving ourselves, each of us took away a simple teaching that made a huge difference in our lives.

The next camp is titled Win from Within and will focus on conquering the mind to conquer the world. It is bound to be a camp that will be as transformational as the camp on love, and an inward and outward journey that I look forward to taking.

Article author:
Khajal Gopal

Date published:
15 February 2016



Yield not to imperfection, it doesn’t befit you. Cast off this weakness of character, Stand up, O scorcher of enemies.
— Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2 - Verse 3

The annual CHYK camp was held from April 4-6th in Camp Manyung, Mount Eliza, a beautiful location by the beach. The camp consisted of discourses and satsangs taken by Swami Swaroopanandaji in his engaging and humorous manner, as well as activities, discussion groups, bhajans and even meditation taken by Gautamji at 6 in the morning! People from Australia, New Zealand and even the UK were in attendance, and the atmosphere around the campsite was bursting with all the enthusiasm and cheerfulness that encapsulated youth ready to learn from a great master.

The theme- ‘Think Big, It’s your time!’ focused on understanding the bigger picture of the world and ourselves, and how this ‘big’ knowledge could help us undertake correct action in life. Swamiji selected key verses from the Bhagavad Gita to illustrate these concepts in a succinct and beautiful manner. Throughout the lecture series, Swamiji explained the ever-changing nature of the universe, and how Lord Krishna thus instructed Arjuna to endure the changes in life bravely, especially the sorrows, as those too would pass. We learnt how all sorrows arise due to small thinking and that by expanding our vision; we would come to realize the insignificance and transience of such sorrow. We were encouraged to ‘lift ourselves by ourselves’. With our mind and senses under control we were indeed our own best friend, and without which we became our deadliest enemy.

Swamiji highlighted that, despite living in a world where both the outside world and our own body, mind and intellect were constantly changing, man was searching for permanent happiness. Permanent happiness, however, could only be found upon knowing the Self, the only all-pervasive constant underlying all the variables in life- and that was the ‘biggest’ knowledge of all.

It was explained that all action should be undertaken with the knowledge and remembrance of this bigger picture. Such action, when dedicated to a higher vision brought forth work that was inspired and also sparked an inner transformation in the individual.  Living by these gems of wisdom from the Gita could be observed from the lives of great masters, such as Gurudev, who undertook all action without any expectation of its results.

Once, when Gurudev was asked to summarize the entire Gita and Hindu philosophy just as he was boarding a train, he stepped up into the carriage from the platform and succinctly replied ‘detach from the lower, and attach to the higher’. We were taught this principle through the practice of introspection- to detect any weaknesses, to negate and tackle them, to substitute these particular weaknesses with something positive in order to enable us to grow.

The activities too, were informative as they were fun! On Saturday afternoon, participants divided into groups and embarked on the ‘Amazing Race’: where all groups had to complete a series of activities to the best of their abilities in less than 90 minutes. These activities and obstacles required tremendous amount of teamwork and cooperation but were extremely enjoyable. However there was a catch! All participants had to carry with them 2 cups filled with water whilst moving between activities. Extreme care had to be taken to spill the least amount of liquid! This proved to be extremely challenging- trying to move through the tasks as fast as possible, all the while dodging the sevaks and Gautamji, who missed no opportunity to upturn our glasses!

All teams successfully completed the tasks and had to pour their cups of water into a contraption, which would in turn dispense a bag of chocolates if the water level crossed a threshold. Due to the extreme competitiveness between participants that ensued in a lot of cheating and sabotage- only one team was able to preserve enough water to dispense the reward. Gautamji later explained that this activity was analogous to our lives in many ways. The two cups filled with water represented thoughts slowly accumulated over time which contributed to our mental poise and integrity. If enough of these positive thoughts were preserved and crossed a mental threshold, a conviction formed. Such convictions gave strength to withstand the onslaught of life, and also helped us to grow. However, in the rush to compete with others whilst completing various tasks in life, we tend to compromise and lose this mental poise. Therefore such positive convictions are unable to develop. Greater care must therefore be taken to preserve this mental poise in order for us to grow, just as great care should have been taken to preserve the water in those glasses!

The 2014 CHYK camp provided the perfect environment to learn the time tested spiritual knowledge of the Gita, whilst enjoying the company and developing long lasting friendships with like minded youth! As we all gathered on the beach on our final evening at Camp Manyung, Swamiji told the story of a humble monkey, and how he too once sat on a beach at the crossroads of destiny before he became the great sevak and hero by the name of Hanumanji. It was an empowering reminder for us to think big, and our sincere gratitude to our Gurus Swamiji and Gautamji for constantly inspiring us to learn and practice this divine knowledge.

Article Author:
Ramya Annavarapu

27 Apr 2014