Experiential learning at The Sacred Grove

Connecting with nature, stories, arts and crafts, principles of sciences and the other wonders of life, away from textbooks, classrooms, and screens is an experience. No written or spoken word can describe the poetry of a sunrise or a sunset. No amount of erudite information on the flora and fauna can help one experience the forests and witness a bird in flight.

Even if one were to give in to the contention that formal schools are essential in today’s time, it seems essential that at least during vacation time and long weekends, children should be given an opportunity to observe, listen, and interact with their peers in small groups, and if possible, in close proximity to nature. If a group of interested students could be connected with those who have the necessary skills and are open to sharing these with the young ones, then the fire of inquiry can be ignited. In some cases where it has already been lit, it could be fanned and nurtured in a conducive environment.

One is convinced that ‘Shantiniketans’ are born of such a meeting between the readiness to receive on the part of the young inquiring minds and the care and passion of artists, writers, and teachers, to share and nurture the young ones to connect with life and learning, in close proximity to Nature.

In continuation of this spirit, in the months of March and April, two Parent-Child Experiential Camps were held at The Sacred Grove, Chowdepalle. These three-day camps were centred around the legend of Satyakama from Chandogya Upanishad – the one who desired the Truth. For the benefit of communication of such a sacred and undefinable longing, it was conveyed as the desire to know the meaning of life. Like all Upanishadic legends, this one too triggers the imagination to lend itself to many interpretations. In our storytelling sessions, the 8-13-year-olds and their parents were requested to invite the Satyakama within them, while connecting closely with nature. All the activities were related to the five elements – Prithvi, Jala, Agni, Vayu, and Akasha in the surroundings and within oneself.

The day started before dawn, with Trataka, star gazing, Yoga, bird watching, nature walks, organic farms and Goshala. The indoor storytelling sessions were communicated not only through words, but also through Yoga-Asanas, dance Mudras, and enacting the properties of Prithvi, Jala, Agni, Vayu, and Akasha. Even the baking sessions were connected with the elements of Prithvi by explaining and using organically grown farm products. Both children and adults were invited to express the Satyakama within them through their own storylines in writing and sketching. Come evening, they were again outdoors for nature walks, looking for the birds, plants, waterbodies, sunsets, and star gazing. All along, a connection with the story and the five elements was kept alive, eg, while collecting firewood for the evening campfire, or the Akasha Tattva through exploring the night sky.

The storytelling and the related activities were introduced at The Sacred Grove, in the hope that one day the young ones would explore the spirit of Satyakama through Swadhyaya – self-study. and more significantly through the study of the Self. These camps were designed to bring both parents and children to the same environment, so that the parents may provide the necessary support to the budding inquirers and also themselves connect with this aspiration for life and its true meaning. The seeds were sown with prayers for these to sprout.

If any adults, parents, or institutions, wish for such experiential camps for their young ones of ages 8-12 and 13-16, we invite them to connect with us at – sacredgrove@satsang-foundation.org.

About The Satsang Foundation

The Satsang Foundation, founded by Sri M, is a meeting point for spiritual seekers of all persuasions. The Satsang Foundation also extends a helping hand to the less privileged of society.