How do I know if Teen Wise Heart Teen Camp is right for me (or my teen)?

Wise Heart Teen Camp is part camp, part retreat. You might wonder what we’re retreating from. The short answer is from our ordinary ways of relating to the world and the people in our world; our habitual patterns of thinking and feeling. It is a retreat to a safe space where teens can talk with other teens about the deep things in life: What is our purpose? How do we make meaning in life? Is it possible to be happy? What is suffering and is there a way out?

Introverts, extroverts, ambiverts, hetero-bi-homo-sapio-sexual teens, and those from every socio-economic background are welcome.

Who is Wise Heart Teen Camp not for?

Wise Heart Teen Camp is meant for high-functioning teens who do not need psychiatric supervision on a full-time basis. If you have a DSM diagnosis or are on psychiatric medication, please contact Julia Hengst, Teen Camp Coordinator and Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, at before registering.

What’s the upper age limit for Wise Heart Teen Camp?

Teenagers 13–18 are welcome to come to Teen Camp. As of age 18, teens are able to decide (sometimes with Camp Coordinator discussions involved) whether they want to continue at Teen Camp or move to Young Adult Camp.

How is it set up?

The Teen/Parent camp has two tracks: one for teens and one for parents.

The teen track is facilitated by leaders experienced in working with teenagers.  Together we explore how we think, how we act, and how we use our Dharma in daily life. The program is Buddhist-based and the activities are all teen-friendly and teen-focused. We aim to help participants tap into their innate intelligence so they can create happier lives now and in future.

The parent track is facilitated by a separate leader and is more focused on meditation training. This track has limited directed activities of two to three hours per day and allows open space for parents to relax, engage in individual practice, read and explore the land.

What are the accommodation options?

There are two main dorms with bunk beds fitted with individual curtains for privacy: one dorm room houses women, the other dorm room houses men. No co-ed bunking.

There are also semi-private dorms (fewer bunk beds), and in addition there are private rooms. All accommodations share bathrooms.

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 campers.

Are meals included? What’s the food like?

Yes, meals are included! Vajrapani Institute, the venue where Wise Heart events take place, offers a fresh, wholesome, nutritionally balanced vegetarian diet. Breakfast options always include hot porridge, stewed fruit, granola, boiled eggs, and toast. Lunch is the largest meal, providing a variety of tastes and flavors, with a different menu each day.  Dinners are kept simple, with soup, salad, cheese, bread, and gluten-free crackers. We always have hot tea, pour-over coffee, and fresh fruit available.

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 fall in 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 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 need to bring their own sleeping bag.  Campers needs to bring their own tents and sleeping bags.

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.

Can I sponsor other teens to attend?

Yes! When you register, please do consider donating more than the requested registration fee. This will help support other teens who otherwise might not be able to come.

What’s your policy on use of digital devices?

No phones can be taken into Camp sessions, but teens can decide for themselves whether they will use phones/etc. during break times.

Are teens expected to attend all sessions on the schedule?

We do our best to create sessions that every teen will enjoy and want to participate in, but of course participants still may prefer some sessions over others. Nevertheless, teens are expected to join every session. The schedule is quite spacious. There are multiple breaks throughout the day and a lot of time for teen discussions/hangout periods.

What time is ‘lights out?’

Teenage brains need more sleep than adult brains – approximately nine hours a night. Lights out is 11.30pm.

What’s your policy on intoxicants?

ZERO TOLERANCE for ANY INTOXICANTS. Because intoxicants put the entire community at risk for liability, we reserve the right to search any bags upon check-in and at any time during Wise Heart Teen Camp.

Is there something we didn’t get to?

Send us a note…

© Copyright - Vajrapani Institute with RJ Smith