Camp, But Make it Cultural: 5 Summer Camps For Desi Children of All Ages
The Seattle I grew up in was very different than the tech-centric one of today—the modest number of Indians living there were usually connected to Boeing or Microsoft and, even living a few miles from Microsoft’s expansive headquarters, there were less than a handful of Indian-American kids at my high school.
Every summer though, dozens of Indian-American children from all over Seattle—and occasionally, other parts of Washington state—gathered for a week on a campsite surrounded by evergreen trees to participate in cultural activities, sports (kabaddi, anyone?) and just be around others who shared similar experiences.
That camp is still around and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year—and there are similar ones thriving, from California to New York.
Ages: 6 - 17
This camp, same one I attended so many years ago, is a five-day camp in Port Townsend, at a military base-turned-historic site a ferry ride away from Seattle. It’s designed to be a five-day immersion in South Asian culture, from the aforementioned sports like kabbadi and cricket to workshops on Holi, culminating in a performance show for parents on the last day.
The camp is a learning experience not only for the younger children, but also for the high school aged Indian-American counselors, who spend months planning each activity and event for their campers. The camp is hosted by the India Association of Western Washington (IAWW).
Ages: 5 - 8
For younger children not ready for a lengthy overnight camp, the Houston-based Vibrant India summer camp lets kids learn Indian art, poetry, games and even words in a variety of India’s languages. It’s a day camp, held from mid-morning until evening on a Saturday and Sunday, and even offers a field trip for the children.
Various Bay Area Cities
Ages: 5 - 13
This day camp for kindergarteners though middle schoolers are designed to be one week long, but with constantly varying content, parents often sign their children up for more than one session. In the sessions, the children learn to celebrate their motherland and culture and even learn Hindi language skills. The camps are available in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, San Ramon and Fremont. Startalk Hindi Camp
Ages: 8 - 13
This three-week day camp in Ohio, organized by the International Hindi Association, is smaller than the others—just 50 students—and is more focused on learning to speak and write Hindi, though it also covers India’s diverse cultures. The camp focuses on themes—the 2019 theme is “Exploring India—Eastern Hindi Belt."
Ages: 8 - 17
This Texas camp started 34 years ago when the founders sought an idea to inspire the younger generation and provide them the values of their heritage. To better suit the campers’ needs, it is divided into two concurrent sessions—a junior camp for 3rd through 7th graders and then the senior camp for 8th through 12th graders the week after.
Campers discuss various topics from yoga and dealing with misconceptions about Hindu culture in the US to meditation and a mix of Indian and Western outdoor activities.
Ages: 8 - 16
About a five hour drive from New York City and just across Lake Ontario from Toronto, this two-week camp in Rochester, NY, begins each day with yoga, “Bhangraerobics” or team building events before delving into activities like Hindu philosophy and Indian dance.
More Hindu-focused than some other similar camps, campers also perform a daily morning puja and learn slokas and bhajans, but are simultaneously encouraged to discuss what it means to be a Hindu American.
Avani Nadkarni is a former journalist who currently works in tech PR and is forever navigating the tricky balance of trying to raise her child in the U.S. whi q