Girls Camp: On Friday morning, July 7, 2006, the summer camp students, counselors, teachers, and parents gathered together bright and early in the building behind the Girls Dorm to show what they’ve learned in this year’s summer camp and to celebrate two weeks of hard work, making new friends and fun times. This year’s theme was “Global Awareness”, and between of all the games and activities they also learned more about the issues and work regarding our environment.
Summer camp this year was filled with many arts and crafts, including recycle art, quilting, cooking, and an exciting art class with Ms. Alice Tsai. Another art class was taught by Jin Yu Shr, who also taught Chinese calligraphy and painting, which everybody enjoyed immensely. Zhian Gan, a Developing Virtue Girls School alumna, taught the 7th-9th graders drama and multicultural music, as did Ms. Isabelle Houthakker with the 3rd -6th class. Ms. Echo Hsueh’s 3rd-6th grade class heard stories, sang songs, picked fruit, learned dances, and made many colorful art projects. Ms. June Bemis gave the K-1st graders a fun and meaningful program as well.
The whole camp enjoyed the classes at the organic farm, led by Mr. Chin-Chieh Fan, where they planted seeds in neat long rows. Everybody also attended Avatamsaka Syllabary chanting classes with Heng Fu Shr, who also led the morning ceremony and told many stories about the lives and deaths of famous Dharma Masters. Ms. Angela Li, a parent, choreographed and taught the K-2nd graders a ballet dance that was both graceful and adorable. Jin Jr Shr rounded out the program by leading students on morning walks around the campus, facilitating discussions on environmental issues, and acting as the program coordinator to make sure everything ran smoothly.
The last day was filled with songs from different religions and cultures, a ballet piece and a tambourine dance, several student-directed skits, and a great many thank-you’s to all the people that helped to make this summer camp possible. It was also an opportunity for the counselors express their appreciation for the teachers, who took valuable time off of their own summer to teach our students, and the parents, for their constant and enthusiastic support. And looking back on the past two weeks, many students, parents, teachers, and counselors saw a lot of exhaustion, a lot of work and planning, a lot of adjustment to a new way of living and thinking, and also a lot of good memories.
Boys Camp: This year, the summer camp was held from June 26th to July 7th at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB). There were sixteen students from the ages of 5 to 9, and thirty-five students from ages 10 to 16. There were also twenty-one young and enthusiastic volunteer counselors. All together, seventy-two students attended the camp, the largest one in the history of the Boys’ School.
Due to camp organizers Dharma Master Tsung and Mr. Kellerman’s rich experience, the students and parents were all quite pleased with the classes and the lifestyle here. Among both the preteens and the teenagers, many were oldtimers.
The main theme was “Global Awareness.” In the clean and beautiful grounds of CTTB, lessons may be learned at every corner – in fact, the “teaching of no words” can further reinforce the theme here to teach the leaders of the future how to care and protect the environment in which we live. Our education is not just in the classroom – practices such as vegetarianism, recycling, organic farming, not wasting food, and not chasing animals around showcase our teachings.
The Summer Camp was divided into two groups. For the five to nine-year-olds, the classes and activities from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. ranged from meditation, storytelling, discussion, taiko, and games, to arts and crafts, among others.
Students between the ages of ten to sixteen resided in the dorm – their schedule was very community-oriented. The students woke up at 6:30 in the morning everyday and went to bed at 10:00. They had morning ceremony, outdoor activities, meditation, Chinese, Buddhism, Ethics, Global Awareness, Arts and Crafts, Chinese knotting, Dragon and Lion Dance, taiko, sports. All the classes were very intensive and fulfilling – they greatly benefited both one’s body and mind.
The entire campus of CTTB is a good place for teaching and nurturing good habits of children. Living in a calm, clean and natural environment free of the noises of cars and vehicles, the five to nine-year-olds automatically took off their shoes and arranged them in order as soon as they entered the Mediation Hall. In the Dining Hall, a counselor would instruct them on how to sort their trash and recyclables, as well as make sure that the campers finished their food. Students went to work in the organic farm, learned not to waste blessings and experienced the hard work of farmers under the sweltering sun.
The uniqueness of the Summer Camp in the City lies in the pervasiveness of the Buddhadharma within the activities. The students attended Meal Offering and Evening Ceremonies everyday, and many of them liked the recitations of the Evening Ceremony. They felt that it was very calm and peaceful to recite the Buddha’s name along with the assembly. The children learned to calm their minds down during Meditation class, and also how to cross their legs and sit. In Buddhist & Ethics class, the students became very quiet and listened intently to the lectures. Dharma Master Shun happily said, “They’re really good!”
Parents and students now view Chinese classes as very important. As Canadian student Tyrone Tang excitedly said, “There are so many stories! I wish we had Chinese class all the time!” Student Johnnie Chen of Taiwan amazingly selected Chinese as his favorite course. The parents of David Deng wished their two sons could quickly learn Chinese in the City.
The Dragon and Lion Dances exhibit the special prowess and skills of the students at Developing Virtue Boys’ School (DVBS). During the Summer Camp, the students of DVBS patiently taught campers the techniques of the performances. In just a short period of time, the campers learned the necessary skills for the dances and performed beautifully for everybody to see.
A farewell performance was held at 7:30 p.m. on July 7th at Daoyuan Hall. Campers presented Dragon Dances, the Lion Dance, Chinese memorization as well as a slideshow with many interesting and humorous pictures of the Summer Camp, causing everyone to laugh. 2006 summer camp concluded in happiness, leaving everyone with many unforgettable memories.