News and Events
|KP National Camp a - grand success
South Lake Tahoe (USA) July 5th, 2009
Report by Arti Raina Bambroo
It was the event that all the participants to the 1st ever KP National Camp 2008 in the west and many others were looking forward to. Planned over the most beautiful long weekend of summer… the 4th of July, it had all the promise of a great gathering.
The camp was held at Lake Tahoe a large freshwater located along the border between California and Nevada. It is home to a number of ski resorts, summer outdoor recreation, and tourist attractions. Its beautiful mountains and a sparkling blue lake have been very popular with tourist and residents alike.
The camp events were spread over two venues, The Quality Inn and the City Of Lake Tahoe Recreation Center, both being a mile apart. This was done to ensure that appropriate venues were provided for the variety of events to take place during the camp.
Though the camp officially started in the afternoon of 3rd of July, many of the organizers arrived at the venue a couple of days earlier to ensure that all the participants would be comfortable and all amenities taken care of.
The theme of the camp this year was “Connect to Kashmir” and the camp activities were motivated towards reminiscing all that is Kashmiri and also increasing the awareness of the same with the younger generation.
The camp was kicked off by the “Welcome Tea” at 4.00 on the 3rd. Campers who arrived at the venue, famished after long drives were treated to scrumptious tandoori chicken and delicious samosas… all that with a refreshing masala chai. It was amazing to see people from as far as Miami who had come to be a part of this experience.
This gave the campers a chance to meet and greet and get to know each other. Chatting and laughing the camp was set in motion with the right tone in high spirits and excitement.
Folks took a break to relax and refresh to get ready for the evening session at the Recreation center. The center was appropriately divided into two parts one of which was assigned to adult activities and the other part for the kids to enjoy and mingle.
The kids had arts and craft, basketball, foosball and table tennis to keep them entertained and happily mingled with each other.
The program was started auspiciously with a Bhajan in the scintillating voice of our own nightingale… Kailash Mehra .There was a welcome address by Sunil Dhar who made all the campers feel at home and gave them all the logistic information to make the event a smooth and enjoyable experience.
This was followed by introductions with a special mention of visiting dignitaries such as Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Kailash Mehra ji.
At this point Naveen Dhar announced the teams for the “Kashmir has Talent” event which aimed at showcasing the enormous talent present in the campers . In line with the "Connect to Kashmir" theme of the Camp, the teams were named after various places in Kashmir like Verinag, Pahalgam,Tulmul, Sonmarg, Shankaracharya, Cheshmashahi etc. The teams were entrusted with making a cultural presentation of their choice for 3 minutes on the following evening and would be judged for the same.
This was followed by a Kashmiri quiz conducted by Rajneesh Raina and Arti Bambroo. The quiz centered on Kashmiri landmarks, music and sayings. There were 5 teams which were named Trath, Tapalee, Tawan, Daakh and Rasar.
It was a closely contested match enjoyed by all amongst laughter and a keen competitive spirit. The honors went to team “Daakh”. There has to be a special mention of team "Tawan"which ensured that the gathering was kept entertained and have been since bestowed with the title of the “most entertaining team”.
This was followed by a heart warming performance by little "Batas" and "Batnees". This was all very ably coordinated by Sonia Kaul. Ashira Monga and Shiney Raina rendered beautiful Kashmiri songs and Perl Raina and Kunal Kaul enchanted the audience with mellifluous Hindi songs. Dance performances by Perl, Vidushi Razdan and Siya Pandita got the audience feet tapping and hands clapping. Kunal and Rishi captured the hearts of the audience with their melodious bhajan and Kastur Kaul played a medley of familiar songs on her guitar with the ease of a virtuoso.
This was followed by dinner and a richly enjoyed evening of music by Kailashji who started her performance by asking the audience to observe a two minute silence for Micheal Jackson. She sang numerous Kashmiri melodies that took the audience back to the Valley of Dal Lake, Shalimar and Nishat. Even the young audience was enthralled by her melodious voice and sat spellbound throughout the evening.
During the dinner the audience was also served Kehwa courtesy Jyoti Durani and Jyoti Sumbly. Kailashji very sportingly ensured that the younger generation participated in this by calling them on stage where they sang Okus Bokus … with Kailashji. It was a novel and exciting experience for them.
This concluded a very eventful and exciting first day that left folks looking forward to the next full day of activities.
4th of July dawned bright and sunny and motivated campers enthusiastically headed to the Transcendental Meditation workshop hosted by Anjali and Sushil Mahaldar. After this levitating experience folks enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of Channa Bhatura and the regular continental breakfast spread … both of which had been made available to cater to the varied tastes of the campers.
This was followed by the campers moving to the Rec center, the very first highlight being the panel discussion with Shri Subramanian Swami on “Kashmir”. Dr. Swamy gave a very enlightened perspective on the Kashmir issues its causes and repercussions. He strongly felt that Article 370 could be repealed by a simple cabinet decision and a recommendation to the President of India.
Other participants in the panel included Anjali Mahalda, Kuldeep Trisal, Girija Raina, Ravi Kaw, Dr. Anil Kaul, Dr. Amrit Nehru, Paviter Handoo, Pran Raina and others who felt that Article 370 has been continuously relegated to the background and has been used against Kashmiri Hindus. They felt it is no longer relevant and be scrapped as soon as possible.
The audience participated with enthusiasm and passion that enriched the discussion and brought forth multiple perspectives on the issue. Question/answer session that followed was very interesting and Dr Swamy was forthright in his answers.
The kids were kept engaged by activities organized by the Youth organizer Monika Dhar. Activities included Dodge Ball, Sack Race, 3 Legged Race, Frog Race and Freeze Dance. The toddlers enjoyed themselves playing with Bubbles, Treasure Hunt and also in the play structure. The young adults played a spirited game of volleyball, table tennis and foosball.
This was followed by another delicious meal and a warm dessert of “kheer” that was relished by all campers.
At this point campers broke into various groups to enjoy the different activities arranged for which included a boat ride around Lake Tahoe, a lazy afternoon at the pool or a hike.
The boat ride gave some of the campers beautiful 2 hours to enjoy the beauty of the blue waters of Tahoe. Some of the hikers also adventurously took a dip in the lake to cool off after the hike. The swimming pool saw a whole group of toddlers happily splashing in the water to beat the heat.
After a short break everyone gathered for a refreshing chai, pakoras and chicken tikkas.
Dr Swamy graciously released Chandramuki Ganjoo’s labor of love….”Koshur Saal” a beautifully illustrated and written book on the Kashmiri cuisine..A gem and must have.
This was followed by all the teams presenting their team building activity. The presentations ranged from hilarious skits to beautiful songs to sneak peeks into quintessential Kashmiri culture. The judges were Kailashji and Deepak Ganju and the honors went to the team of Sonmarg comprising Paviter Handoo, Archana Raina and Ashish Bambroo. Another mention worthy presentation was the skit “Ammaji” that drew heavy appreciation and laughter from the crowd. This represented the combined efforts of Chandramukhi and Deepak Ganju, Monika Dhar and Ashish Bambroo. However they were not included in the competitive category due to the presence of the stalwart Ganju couple.
These entertaining hours were followed by another fulfilling meal followed by a variety of ice cream choices served as dessert. As if this was not sweet enough Kailashji entertained the crowd with her songs yet again . Her performance left people wanting more… but would they ever have enough?
All the campers then enjoyed the colorful and gay display of fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. It was a special delight to watch the kids faces light up akin to the fireworks.
At this point champagne was popped to celebrate the good times and to wish for many more such occasions. While some folks choose to have another round of Musical masti with Kailash ji with rangeen songs and a late night Ghazal Mehfil till 2AM, others ventured to Casino to try their luck.
Next morning another delicious breakfast was followed by sad but fond farewells and a promise to meet again to continue to foster the culture and bonds of brotherhood within the community. Thus the glorious 2009 KP National Camp came to a sad but inevitable end.
I am sure all the campers look forward to the warmth and feeling of belonging that this camp has been promoting since 2008 and I am sure they will not be disappointed.
We all acknowledge the Kashmiri in us. It is an inherent part of our personalities and that is what drives us to such events as this camp at Lake Tahoe. However, what makes up our Kashmiriat and how vital is it to our quality of life? How can we preserve our Kashmiriat by increasing our knowledge and exposure to Kashmiri arts, culture, history and the humanities? These are the questions we hope to answer for ourselves as well as the next generation who looks up to us to establish their roots and identity.
Encouraged by the philanthropic response from well wishers, it was proposed by the KP National Camp-2009 team to setup a non-profit trust/foundation. The Foundation will work and campaign for the preservation and promotion of Kashmiri music, arts, culture, history and the humanities as vital in the quality of life of the Kashmiri people. Ideas that can contribute towards pushing this noble cause are welcome.
Salt Lake city(UT), Chicago(IL) and Southern/Central California were seen bidding for next 2010 KP National Camp venue. Please stay tuned for our future announcements.
Thanks and see you all at 2010----KPCamp
Arti Raina Bambroo
K.P. Camp--2009 Team
A special note of thanks to all campers all of who pitched in to help at various points and make the camp a collaborative success. Our deep gratitude to Mr. Deepak Ganju for covering this event for Shehjar through the lenses and Salil Durani for capturing some beautiful images.
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