The SSIO of the countries of Zone 8 organise family camps wherein parents and children can relax in a natural setting and dive deeply into the nectarine teachings of Sathya Sai Baba. Typical activities include classes in human values for children, spiritual discussions for adults, and service projects.

In Belarus, 15 people, including a few newcomers, attended a family camp in early July 2016. In consonance with the theme of the camp, “Unity in Creation,” participants spent five days endeavouring to experience the unity of all things. Together, they prepared the site for the camp and engaged in creative projects and selfless service.

The Sai community in Kyrgyzstan organised a family camp under the theme “God is Love! Live in Love!” on the shore of beautiful Lake Issyk-Kul in late July 2016, which was attended by 58 SSIO members from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Camp activities included lessons on human values for children and Sai Olympics for all. Camp participants also undertook a memorable trip to the nearby mountains and surrounding waterfalls. Everyone enjoyed the unique beauty of the Tien Shan mountains, part of the Himalayan orogenic ranges, near the joint border of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China. In a test of endurance and unity, they hiked up a difficult trail to the largest waterfall, at 2,400 meters above sea level.

In the Ukraine, 35 people participated in a family camp on the shore of the Sea of Azov in early July 2016. Classes were held daily on human values, and creative workshops were organised for the children, while Sathya Sai youth and adults practised singing bhajans and discussed spiritual matters. Cultural programmes brightened the evenings, and everyone sang bhajans blissfully around a campfire.

In the Ural Region of Russia, 56 people participated in a six-day family camp organised by the SSIO in early August 2016. Activities reflected the camp theme, “Love: the foundation of life.” The 13 children, ages 6 months to 4 years who attended the camp, filled the venue and the hearts of all with love and light. In addition to classes for older children, fascinating stories were narrated to the younger children, keeping everyone spellbound. The weather was warm and wonderful. As part of the programme, the participants discussed lessons taught by Mother Nature, including the selfless service rendered by nature and human efforts to protect the environment. The volunteers also engaged in a “journey” through the forest, where some of them appeared as fairy-tale characters to test the children. The children who passed the tests successfully received watermelons, representing gifts from nature. On the final day, delegates of the 2016 Sathya Sai World Youth Festival shared memories of the event recently held in Prasanthi Nilayam, with photographs and stories, bringing joy to all. The day ended with a bonfire and fireworks.

In Russia, in late July, 59 people attended a family camp on the banks of the Katun River in Siberia. The children, organised in three age groups, received 15 lessons in human values, acted in plays, and created works of art. Sathya Sai Youth participated in service projects, supervised games, organised cultural programmes, and helped with cooking and housekeeping. As in past years, an eagerly awaited Sai Olympics was held, where the children displayed their very best athletic talents. The participants also celebrated a day honouring their Guru, Sathya Sai Baba. Everyone took part in two musical performances glorifying the name of God, recited uplifting poems, and cultural programmes.

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