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Samanera Amaranatho

ON THE LAST AFTERNOON OF EVERY FAMILY CAMP WE HAVE A PRESENTATION, or really a celebration, of what is and has been over the week. A few hours together weaving words, poetry, art, theatre, songs, movements, and spontaneous sounding together, allowing the young people to organize and present it. Just before the Camp closes, the Treasurer gets up and says his thing: that we have lived on dana, the generosity of other people, and if you would like to give you can.

The audience

On the last night of Camp, we have a circumambulation of the stupa in the Buddha Grove. The stupa and many of the trees in the Grove have been adopted by the family campers for loved ones who have died. Each of us holds a candle and some incense and we walk in single file, led by the Sangha to the Buddha Grove, circumambulating the stupa three times and chanting the mantra Namo Sakya Muni Buddha (Homage to the Sakyan Sage). We end in silence. To complete the Camp the next morning, we go in to the temple to share in the Paritta chanting that many of the Sangha offer.

Looking back over the years I have been running the family events, I thought what I was doing was in order to help others; but now I realize I was doing it to heal me. I would so dearly have loved to have had friends in the way the young people and children are to one another, to be accepted just the way they are, to be free to roam around away from my parents and just play. For the last two years my mum has come up on the last day and we have both found it a powerful experience.

The Family Camp could not work without the great support of the parents, who take various roles from overall coordinator (thanks Ges) to people that chop food in the kitchen. To all the families and young people that come and offer your love and hearts, your tears and fears, I thank you, you are a great inspiration to me and I’m sure to all of us involved in these events. Finally I would like to express my gratitude to all the Sangha and families who kept the Camp going, and to the current community and Retreat Centre managers for their ongoing support, also to John and Ray for their support with the Young Persons’ Retreat.

I would like to thank Binnie and Patrick for all their help with learning about birth, children and parenting. You can find out more about their work at and And with gratitude to Catherine.

Finally …
By the time you read this, spaces for most of this year’s Family Events will probably be filled, as they usually are. Mainly, this is to do with the physical space and number of weekends available at the Retreat Centre. We do our best to introduce new families – coming to the June weekend is a good way to start. The Young Persons’ Retreat has a capacity of 45 and fills up quickly. Once again, more information and resources for young people can be found on the Family Events website:

More from Ven. Amaranatho:
The Big Questions – Young Persons’ Spirituality

A few years ago I went to an interfaith retreat for young leaders of faith, and ended up co-running one a few years later. Following on from this and with the support of the Sangha, I now participate in All Faiths and None (AFAN), as the Buddhist representative.

AFAN is a group of people representing different faiths and worldviews, including humanist, who are exploring from their personal viewpoints religion, spirituality, and worldviews in general with young people in Further Education colleges. As part of this I have been running staff development days in colleges, sharing how to facilitate dialogue with young people, using the AFAN material. I have written a number of essays on different subjects from a Buddhist point of view for teenagers which are found at There is also a large selection of supportive Web material for teachers and teenagers to explore, to contemplate the various big questions in life at .

previous page Child Protection Statement
All Amaravati family events are covered by a comprehensive child protection policy available online.
‘There is no excuse not to report abuse’
If you are unsure, please contact your local council’s department for Children, Schools and Families (CSF).

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