We begin each day with breakfast from 7:30am – 8:15am, followed by a morning meditation. The children’s sessions focus on a rich variety of activities, with each session lasting approximately 45 minutes to an hour. There are breaks between sessions, during which the children are supervised. Participation in the parents’ sessions is completely optional and each session tends to run between 1-2 hours. Activities for parents include meditation, discussions and activities related to the theme of camp.
We have deliberately created a schedule which allows children to be immersed in the camp experience yet also provides times for connecting with their family. After lunch each day we have Family Time from 1:00pm- 3:00pm. During this time parents are expected to supervise their children while staff take a break. You may choose to use this time to take naps, read stories in our library, play games, or perhaps work on art projects together. After 3:00pm there are a few afternoon sessions and we end with a meditation before dinner. After dinner we have a family centered activity. Our evening program ends at 9:00pm, but if little ones need to go to bed earlier, that is fine.
Who will my children be with?
Children are put into groups with children their own age. Typically we have a younger group of 5-6 year olds, a middle group of 7-9 year olds and an older group of 10-12 year olds. Each group has a counselor who has many years of experience working with children in a camp setting. Many of the counselors are themselves graduates from Family Camp! Each group also has two teen counselors, who are part of our Teen Leadership program.
What activities will the children be doing?
The children will be led in short guided meditations prepared by our experienced teacher and much beloved community elder, Jonathan Landaw. Each group has a meditation teacher who is experienced in working with children of that age group. We strive to keep meditation fun and easy since this is often a child’s first exposure to calming and focusing the mind.
Children will get to participate in nature walks, arts and crafts sessions and discussions. They will also work on an art project related to the year’s theme. In addition, there is plenty of free time where they will have supervised playtime with new friends. Family centered activities include stories and music, making water bowl offerings, a fire puja and a talent show.
The children in the oldest age group (10-12 year olds) have the opportunity to participate in our Karma Kafe, where they play card games, make art and connect with their peers while being supervised by Camp staff. No parents allowed! One night they have the option of participating in a sleep-out on the Stupa deck. The Karma Kafe is optional, is only for children in the 10-12 year old age group and participation requires parental permission.
What about the parents?
Parents have their own track which includes meditation, discussions and activities related to the theme of Camp. We include sessions on raising kids mindfully and ways to bring home what their children have learned. Parents are welcome to participate in as much or as little of the parent track as they choose. There are also family centered activities, where the whole family participates together. Parents are also given time to connect with other parents and to carve out some quiet time for themselves throughout the day’s activities.
What are the accommodation options?
There are two main dorms with bunk beds fitted with individual curtains for privacy. There are also semi-private dorms (with fewer bunk beds), and in addition there are private rooms. All accommodations share bathrooms. We do not have a boy/girl dorm during Wise Heart Family Camp; families are all together.
If you wish to camp out under the stars you can bring your own tent and sleeping gear. Fully equipped bathrooms are available for all Camp participants.
Are meals included? What’s the food like?
Meals are included. Our kid-friendly family-tested vegetarian menu, served in a buffet style, is quite popular. All meals are vegetarian and are lovingly created by Vajrapani Institute’s kitchen team, using organic ingredients whenever possible. There is always a carb, a protein, salad, vegetables and fresh fruit. We also have dessert after every dinner meal. Snacks are healthy and plentiful.
Do you cater to people on restricted diets?
For those who need it, we can serve vegan menu options and we can also offer food suitable for those with gluten, dairy, and soy allergies. For the sake of simplicity, our policy with regard to guests with more complex/extensive food allergies than those listed above, is to offer a large bowl of steamed brown rice and a large bowl of mixed steamed veggies. No protein is offered to people who come under this category, as experience shows us that those with complex allergies often cannot tolerate vegetarian proteins. Please note that the kitchen is not able to accommodate specific vegetable substitutions or vegetable preferences for those choosing the rice and steamed veggies option.
Also, please note that although our kitchen caters to specific food allergies, we do not guarantee there will be no cross contamination.
Retreaters that have specific protein needs (paleo diets, etc.) are welcome to bring supplemental protein with them, so long as these items do not require cooking. Appropriate supplemental proteins might include a can of tuna, beef jerky, protein powder, etc.
If you need any of the special dietary arrangements listed above, please email firstname.lastname@example.org a week before your arrival, specifying what your needs are from the list of options we offer.
What do I need to pack?
Everyone needs to bring their own towel and a flashlight.
Additionally, people staying in the dorms/semi-private dorms or camping need to bring their own sleeping bag. Campers needs to bring their own tents, sleeping bags and associated camping equipment.
Is there anything I shouldn’t pack?
The use of electrical items with heating elements (electric irons, hair dryers, etc.) is not permitted as the power supply at Vajrapani Institute is limited, mostly using solar power.