Previous camps for primary school students held in Than Hsiang Temple were for children ten to twelve years of age. Due to the many requests for such camps for the younger primary school students, it was decided to hold (for the first time) one for those aged seven to nine years. Initially, the camp was planned for 120 children, but the response was so tremendous that Venerable Zhen Xin decided to accept all 224 applications for the camp so as not to disappoint any child and more so to provide all the children an opportunity to learn the Dharma.
The mission for holding these camps for primary school students is to create a society filled with love, compassion and appreciation. In order to achieve this, the children would be taught:
* To accept and love themselves in order to be able to love others.
* To be appreciative and considerate so as to build a closer family relationship.
* To share with and care for their friends.
* To be humble and respectful to their teachers and elders.
* To have a positive and optimistic outlook for the future.
Running the camp proved a challenging task for the organizers for the number of students had almost doubled the number they had originally planned for the camp. It would have been doubled the headache for the organizers but for the help of 156 Ai Xin Brothers and Sisters, Ai Xin Fathers and Mothers and other helpers. Thanks to their help, the camp turned out to be double the fun for the children instead. It has to be noted that some of the helpers had to take leave from work to help out at the camp. Such spirit and sacrifice is praise worthy indeed.
The theme for the camp was “Appreciation” and the emphasis was towards teaching the children to love their parents and to inculcate gratitude for their parents. The activities of the camp were spread out over three days and two nights, with the children waking up at 6.00am in the morning and going to sleep at 10.30pm at night. They were kept busy with watching movies and sharing what they learnt from the movies, games, singing, chanting, listening to dharma talks, and doing a sketch for their parents on the last day of camp. The children also learnt how to prostrate properly and how to take refuge in the Triple Gems of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
It could be said the camp was a learning experience, not only for the children, but also for the organizers. Not only was it the first time they organized for primary school students of age seven to nine, but it was also the first time they held a camp for this many children – 224 in all! The camp was a resounding success, thanks mainly to the Ai Xin Brothers and Sisters, Ai Xin Fathers and Mothers and the other helpers, who went about quietly and efficiently doing their jobs. Our hats are off to them for a grand job done! Amituofo!