HOUSTON, TEXAS, August 8, 2019 (Houston Chronicle): The last day of school is the beginning of the countdown to Hindu Heritage Youth Camp. Namita Pallod remembers eagerly awaiting the start of camp each year, crossing off the days on her calendar along with her friends. “We always called camp the best five days of the year,” she said. Now, the 24-year-old is returning for the third year as director of the Hindu Heritage Youth Camp. She was a counselor for the past four years and a camper since age 7. The camp lasts two weeks, from July 30 to Sunday at Camp Lantern Creek, 4045 N. FM1486 in Montgomery. The first five-day session is for grades third through seventh, and the following week for students in eighth through 12th grades.
Like traditional summer camps, time is reserved for basketball, volleyball, kickball, ultimate Frisbee, canoeing, archery and swimming. At the same time, campers take a deep dive into their heritage and Indian culture. Children get to try kho-kho, kabaddi and langri, sports from India, as well as learn traditional dances like garba, raas and bhangra. They also have their own version of Holi, a Hindu festival of color celebrated in the spring. Pallod explained that each afternoon centers around a topic for discussion — ranging from a Hindu God to yoga and meditation. This is a chance for campers to learn more about their religion. “It’s been a huge part of my spiritual journey as a Hindu,” Pallod said. “The charm of our camp is that you learn from people who grew up in the U.S. just like you.”