By Angel Hsieh
Instead of going on camping trips, 21 campers from Canada and the US gathered for Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto’s very first “virtual” children’s summer camp (July 1st to July 4th). The theme this year is “When the Smart Becomes the Wise.” The objective was to let children discover that they could do more than learning knowledge diligently. With respect and care, they could make a difference in the world through practicing the Three Acts of Goodness – Do Good Deeds, Speak Good Words, and Think Good Thoughts.
The Abbess of FGS of Toronto, Venerable Chueh Fan, kicked off the summer camp with a warm welcome and presided the campers taking the “Three Acts of Goodness Oath.” In Ven. Chueh Fan’s speech, she encouraged the happy campers to cherish this opportunity to learn what it takes to apply Buddhist teachings in their daily life.
Over the course of the program, the camp advisor, Ven. Ruan began each and every day with an illustrated introduction to Manjusiri Bodhisattva of Wisdom. In accord with the main theme, The Heart Mantra of Manjusiri was chosen as the camp’s song to allow children to cultivate the virtue of wisdom. Teachers delivered Master Hsing Yun’s Dharma words to the young campers in segments entitled “Pearl of Wisdom.” From learning how to manage our own emotions to what kindness is, the campers learned to identify “wisdom in action.”
In addition, there were many activities designed for the children to experience mindfulness and express their creativity. The campers embraced the idea of self-compassion in “Butterfly Meditation” and expressed their love of Earth in creating artwork out of recycling materials around the household. Teaching assistants from the Youth Dharma Class choreographed dances to the Heart Mantra of Manjusiri and the Fo Guang Four Verses for the children to be up and moving. The camper concluded their learning by creating operas using the musical game applet facilitated by Lisa.
Activities and contents of the camp were designed and delivered by the camp’s teaching team, including teachers from Children’s Dharma class, Ventures from Scout, and Youth Teaching Assistants. A special shout out to members of the Toronto YAD for facilitating musical games and assisting with audiovisual productions. This camp would not be possible without enthusiastic support from the Temple community.
During the closing ceremony, the campers shared their joy of learning Dharma by showcasing their fun-filled experiences at the summer camp in video presentations. More than 50 people attended the closing ceremony. Special awards were handed out to campers who demonstrated diligence, thorough understanding, and aspirations by guests.
Venerable Chueh Fan congratulated the campers who successfully completed the summer camp program. In her closing remarks, she reminded the children to remember to recite the Heart Mantra of Manjusiri to cultivate the wisdom to resolve and overcome obstacles in life. Although we are only connected via the Internet due to the pandemic, Ven. Chueh Fan wished to see all of the Three Acts of Goodness campers in person next year!