The mission of our youth programs is to help children and teenagers develop self-awareness, kindness, and a sense of interconnectedness with all beings and our world.
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Zen Mountain Monastery is the main house of the Mountains and Rivers Order (MRO), a Western Zen Buddhist lineage established by the late John Daido Loori Roshi and dedicated to sharing the dharma as it has been passed down, generation to generation, since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha.
The mission of our youth programs—Zen Kids, Zen Tweens, and Zen Teens—is to help children and teenagers develop self-awareness, kindness, and a sense of interconnectedness with all beings and our world. We do this through the practice of meditation, the study of age-appropriate Buddhist teachings and liturgy, as well as art, music, games, and outdoor activities. The schedule also includes a short period of work practice called caretaking, and time for either storytelling or the study of a text related to our monthly theme. Past themes have included the Buddha’s life, the six senses, kindness, silence, giving, and community, among many others. Zen teens spend time studying and discussing more overt Buddhist teachings like the Four Noble Truths and the six paramitas, and their relevance for the issues that they may be encountering in their lives: bullying, the use of social media, relationships and sexuality.
Once a year, members from all three programs celebrate Buddha’s Birthday with a special ceremony and a performance for the sangha. In the summer we hold weekend retreats for families, and in the winter our annual Dana Dinner—a holiday celebration for our neighbors and those who might not otherwise have a holiday meal.
Zen Kids (open to 3 to 9-year-olds) and Zen Tweens (9 to 13-year-olds) meets generally on the first Sunday of every month from 9 am to 12 pm (Families are welcome to stay for our Monastery’s community lunch). Zen Teens (14 to 18-year-olds) meets on the first Saturday of the month from 1 to 4 pm. Parents have a choice of attending the Zen Kids program, or, if their kids are at least 6 years old and are comfortable on their own, they can choose to do the Monastery’s adult Sunday program instead. Please note that the Zen Tweens and Teens programs happen without the presence of parents.
Our staff is made up of monastics and lay practitioners with a deep commitment to creating a space in which children and teens can skillfully relate to one another, cultivate a strong and grounded sense of self, and discover for themselves one of Buddhism’s primary teachings—that each one of us is perfect and complete just as we are.