Report - 2017 Family Chan Camp Reflection
August 15, 2017
2017 Family Chan Camp
by Yingshyan Ku

Every year, Chan Meditation Center holds a family camp for children aged from seven to sixteen at Dharma Drum Retreat Center located in Pine Bush, NY. This year, 47 children, 14 counselors, and 24 adults attended the camp.

While the camp officially began on 8/2 and concluded on 8/6, the counselors and adults prepared and arranged a variety of different activities starting on 7/30. The training days were packed with lectures and lessons in order to impart knowledge to the counselors before the camp began.

Andrew Shen, a new counselor, said, “It was good that they taught us some important life lessons in the training session, and it helped me better deal with the kids at times.”

Report - 2017 Family Chan Camp Reflection

Some activities for the kids group included creating kites, making lanterns, and learning about basic buddhist etiquette. Meanwhile, the teens attended conversations regarding compassion, buddhist philosophy, and learned about the art of tea. Guo Kai Fashi flew to the United States from Taiwan and taught classes for the adults, which consisted of discussions around topics such as life and death.

One activity for both the kids and teens group involved placing a bowl of water filled to the brim with water on top of their heads and walking a course with the goal of spilling the least amount of water possible. The goal of this exercise was to practice the concept of mindfulness. The children found the activity to be challenging yet entertaining.

The art of tea has always been an important aspect of Chan. Both kids and teens were taught about the proper etiquette for a tea ceremony by Chang Zhai Fashi and Yen Ben Fashi. This required the children to remain calm while waiting for the tea host to make the tea. Slowing down to appreciate the taste and smell of tea teaches the value of patience.

Report - 2017 Family Chan Camp Reflection

Counselors and the children also went on a field trip to “Sam’s Point”, which reaches up to 698 meters above ground. While the hike was strenuous at times, the scenery from the peak was breathtaking and well worth the effort.

All the children had been highly anticipating the day for water sports. The counselors spent a few hours preparing activities for the children in advance. Five stations with varying games were set up, such as a relay race. Children and counselors all became soaked and had a lot of enjoyment!

The night before the final day of camp comprised of acting out skits the children had been preparing for days in advance based around four themes: wisdom, kindness, compassion, or cultivation. Following the skits was a talent show where anyone was free to perform. Adult volunteers even went on stage and danced along to a song! The night concluded with a bonfire where children could roast marshmallows to make s'mores.

Dharma Drum Mountain’s Family Camp is an enjoyable way for children to be introduced to buddhism and the notion of being compassionate.

Report - 2017 Family Chan Camp Reflection