Alex is 16 and attends Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.
When I first started training at the temple, I viewed the training as this incredibly hard and painful workout. Why in the world would anyone ever put themselves through such a rigorous workout? Shifu gave me the answer: All life is beautiful. When I realized that he believed this, I started to realize why we train – because our bodies are amazing, and they deserve to be sharpened, both physically and mentally, so that we can enjoy life better.
How do you know that all life is beautiful? How do you know that this is true? Just look around you; look inside of yourself. Your body runs on systems and rules and laws that are so intricate it’s like magic that it all works together. The amazing thing is that this magically intricate thing that is the human body exists for one sole purpose: so YOU can live!
Shifu has realized this. He made me realize this. This is why we train.
What does the Summer Camp have to do with this? The land is wide open, simple, and magical. The air is fresh and so is the training. Training at the upstate temple full-time at the camp enables you to take a step back from the modern world and realize that there is another, simpler, level of life. But this simple level of life is pure – you work hard, you get rewarded. You live with the land and with your brothers and sisters in training. It is a whole new perspective on how life can be lived, and it changed my perception of the city.
Being separated from the city may seem dreadful at first. However, after you get somewhat used to the schedule at the camp, you’ll start to appreciate the incredible view of the land at the upstate temple, and so much more about it. You’ll live like the original Shaolin Monks did in China – a life without stress, only good, hard work and the reward for it: an incredibly strong body, pride in yourself, and an appreciation for many things that you didn’t have an appreciation for previously. This happened to me, and I’m so thankful I went to last year’s camp.