Mandala on the Mountain – 2014

Successfully Concluded with Record Numbers

During the week of July 13-19 Dharma Rain’s annual Mandala on the Mountain youth camp took place at Camp Adams, near Molalla.  Fifty three campers and another 25 staff packed the little Zendo and dining room, and thoroughly enjoyed the warm weather as Portland baked in high 90s temperatures. Click on any photo for a larger view.

Camp begins with raising the Mandala on the Mountain Flag.









Each morning starts out the Zendo, followed by silent breakfast, then the fun begins.






Poem read at camp:

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
And you keep quiet and I will go.

Pablo Neruda

One of the highlights at camp is the “Buddha Olympics,” a series of challenges that often have a Dharma principle, such as cooperation. The Blanket Race is one, in which the teams have to scoot across a course while everyone stays on the blanket. The teams are based on color groups, so ages are mixed. Here’s the Blue Team, followed by the White and Green teams.






The Bungee Maze Challenge requires each team member to cross the maze without touching certain strands, which appears impossible. A penalty point is assessed for each touch. The trick is for the first participant to sacrifice himself for the group and hold two strands apart so the rest can pass.




A fun optional activity was learning some acrobatic skills.




Sometimes time was spent simply horsing around.



To start events the camp came together in a large circle, organized by color groups.





Each color group made a contribution to a mandala constructed at the camp. Here is Yellow’s contribution. The Yellow represents earth, and care for material things.


Another event is the game “Hunt-a-Monk,” in which the ordained don camouflage (some more successfully than other) and the campers try to find them. The campers need to beware of “biffers,” who can freeze them, but “medics” can free them up again. Here Gyokuko (one who makes herself easy to find) dons camo. She took photos of campers who found her.




Another highlight is the annual water fight. The only rules are, no water inside, and it ends with a horn. It’s pretty much counselors vs. campers. Much hilarity ensues.







The group gathered for a group photo this year.




Near the end of camp there is a closing ceremony at the Torii Gate. The campers process to the gate for the ceremony, and red cords are tied on each person’s wrist as a blessing and a reminder of the connections made. Cords often last a year or more, and some councilors have three of four on their wrists.






Camp ends with the skits at the campfire site. Campers, staff, and parents who have arrived to pick up their kids gather, then skits are performed by color groups, and acknowledgments are made. This year the skits were videoed, but they are too large to upload to this blog site. We do have short clips of the start and end of just one skit.

Here the group gathers:



Here is the start and end of the “Blue Group” skit.





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