After the lockdown of Ontario, it was saddening to hear that the temple was shut down as well. Of course, it was understandable for the safety of everyone at the temple and all of our members, but that meant that many of our beloved events were cancelled until September. Family banquet, Hanamatsuri, Father’s Day picnic, Ohakamairi, Obon, and camp Lumbini.
To me, and the other youth organizers, we felt that it was very unfortunate that camp Lumbini was cancelled, as we believe that camp is such a vital part of keeping the youth together and active with the temple. As time had gone by, virtual meetings were starting to become normalized and easier to access for everyone, so we had the idea to try to run virtual camp Lumbini.
During mid-July we had sent out emails to the parents, inviting them to join us for virtual
camp. We gathered some volunteers and started to get activity kits together for the kids to prepare for camp. Once our kits were together, our volunteers helped us deliver these kits to each family, and it was also a nice way to drop by and say hello to our fellow temple members, remembering physical distancing of course.
Our theme this year was self-meditation. We decided that it would be good to make the best out of this quarantine and get the kids to do some deep contemplation. We asked them to take some time, do some meditation and think about what they wanted to accomplish that week. At the end of the week, they would be showcasing their work as our usual Friday variety show. I told them they could do anything from playing piano, reviewing a book to us, or sports tricks. The week of our camp ran on August 3rd, 5th, and 7th, as we had to work around summer programs, work schedules, and other various factors. Our sessions ran roughly 2-3 hours.
Each session started with service. I had sent everyone a digital copy of our service book, so we had our chanting, gathas, and dharma talks. My brother, Joaquin, and I did the dharma talks through the week. We coordinated them to help guide the campers in this week of self-meditation. We talked about the different components of what it is to self-meditate. First, there is taking time for yourself. Doing a self-assessment. How do you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally? What do you want to accomplish? What would you like to improve, and what are the steps to improvement? Second, Joaquin talked about self-discipline. Keeping a schedule or a routine in order for you to accomplish your goals. Third, we discussed self-reflection/self-appreciation. When you are working on your goal you need to sometimes take breaks and look at how far you have gone since you started to your goal. Reminding the kids that it’s not always about the ending result, but about the progress and how far they have gotten since they started.
After our services, we did various activities. The first session, after service we socialized with the kids giving us the time to catch up and socialize. After things had settled down we went on to our shirt decorating. We used fabric paints instead of tie-dye this year, as we thought we would try to make this easier on the parents. We could tell that the kids still missed the tie-dye, as many of them did a painted tie-dye design. The second session, we held an open discussion on their progress. Afterwards, we went on to making our Nenjus. As we were making our Nenjus we talked about what nenjus are, and what they represent. In our third session, we had the kids summarize their week and talk about their progress, how they felt about working on their goals, and how fun it was to see each other. Then we ended things off with our traditional variety show! This is where they showed us what they had been working for the whole week. We were very fortunate to have a piano piece by Ryan Yoshida, a magic show by Ryan Mack, a ukulele piece by Joaquin Kataoka, and a two musical pieces by Elly and Shohei Hayakawa, and Mika and Mizuki Shimozato.
I want to say thank you to all of the volunteers that helped make virtual camp Lumbini! Thank you to Cynthia Tetaka for helping us get virtual camp started. To Kazu Maeda for making the wonderful shirt design. To Grace Tamaki for helping to make the nenju kits. To Joanne, Cary, Rachel, Joaquin Kataoka, and Koji Goto for helping set up the program, picking up, and delivering the camp kits! And lastly, thank you to all of the parents and kids that participated in this year’s virtual camp Lumbini! We couldn’t have done this without the help of all of these people!
At the end of it all, I can confidently say that we had success with Virtual Camp Lumbini 2020!