Photo: The Youth Buddhist Summer Camp 2017


The Youth Buddhist Summer Camp

In cooperation with the WDS Aegna Meditation- and Development Centre

About the Camp

This is a weeklong summer camp, for youth aged 14 through 18 who are interested in Buddhism and meditation. Campers come from a variety of traditions and have different levels of familiarity with Buddhism but are willing to try it out. Most of the forms we use derive from Theravada, but we include teachings from different schools of Buddhism.

Every day there are traditional camp activities like swimming, crafts, sports and a campfire, as well as Buddhist practices like meditation, a chanting service, silent breakfast and mindful work practice. We meet in small groups to discuss dhamma and vinaya, learning about aspects of our selves and interdependence.

Every day there are traditional camp activities like swimming, crafts, sports and a campfire, as well as Buddhist practices like meditation, a chanting service, silent breakfast and mindful work practice. We meet in small groups to discuss dhamma and vinaya, learning about aspects of our selves and interdependence.

The schedule finds room for special activities like acting, kite-making not to mention water balloon fights, capture the flag and lots of time to hang out and get to know other kids who are interested in spiritual practice.

Besides the dhamma and a few of the basics of retreat life, we learn values of caring for things and people, not wasting, accepting what is offered, and generally maintaining a safe and supportive social environment.

We try to tailor the rigors of camp to the age and experience of our kids and give them challenges that encourage them to discover their inner resources. Keeping the teaching appropriate for young people makes a big difference in how well it is received and how much is truly usable by the student.

Who teaches?

All the staff involved with camp are volunteers recruited from members of  Estonian Theravada Sangha and Wat Doi Suthep Meditation and Development Centre. New staff members act in assistant roles. Some staff are counselors and some function in supportive roles — cooking, music, administrative etc. In addition, we also plan to invite volunteers dhamma and meditation teachers from outside Estonia.

One of the ways we can hold the structure of the camp without being overbearing is by having a good camper to staff ratio — we typically have about 5 kids per staff member. This allows us to rotate a bit, keeping those in direct contact with kids fresh and attentive, and permits kids a large degree of freedom while staying under somebody’s supervision.

What makes it Buddhist?

Practice elements include meditation, chanting, the disciplines of keeping a period of silence, of taking only what you need, of working in community, and of eating everything on your plate. This is a very challenging lifestyle for our campers and they enjoy bragging about having survived the difficulty of the practices.

There are two ‘class’ times a day. The first is a discussion time. This is a time to talk about life in a peer group, and relate it to the teaching theme of camp, which is dhamma and vinaya. In discussion we use the four brahmaviharas to express the interdependence of all beings, and at the same time, wholeness inside us as a reflection of the network of interdependence. This teaching bridges the gap between the physical and the spiritual in a beautiful way that is very open to interpretation, so the kids can hear a layer of meaning that fits their own level of comfort and experience. We try to make this personal and relevant, using lots of examples from daily life.

The second ‘class’ time in the day is when we talk about everyday problems and solution. This time is more structured, although sometimes we are doing activities, rather than sitting and talking. The emphasis here is on getting all the kids to get to know each other, and learning about one particular pattern of manifesting wisdom and delusion in life.

Besides the dhamma and vinaya, and a few of the basics of retreat life, we are trying to instill in them some values of caring for things and people, not wasting, and politely accepting what is offered (gratitude encouraged but not demanded). We rarely have to make a rule about acceptable speech to keep the kids from engaging in the trash talk that happens in many schools. We do strive to keep the atmosphere friendly, safe and supportive, but this tends to happen implicitly by modeling and creating a container rather than by setting up lots of boundaries.

We learn a lot about each other in the course of a week. Camp becomes quite a close community in just seven days and goodbyes are difficult. We also learn something about who we really are, and often, by the end of the week the counselors can see changes in how the kids are taking care of themselves and others.

You can register by
e-mail:   info@sangha.ee
Phone:  +372 511 1115 (Estonia) or +66 99 11 92 115 (Thailand).

Hei, Youth, 

You Are Welcome !



Eesti theravaada sangha estonian theravada sangha andrus kahn thitanano bhikkhu Ṭhitañāṇo bhikkhu Head of Estonian Sangha