2013 Camp Recap

by Heng Cheng

Campers practicing Tai ChiIt’s 7:30 in the morning at the Shaolin Temple Summer Camp when the breakfast bell rings. The students, however, do not come tumbling out of their cabins; they’ve been awake for half an hour already and are busy drilling cartwheels after their morning jog. The sound of the bell gets their attention, but they finish their calisthenics and wait to be dismissed before going to the dining hall for breakfast. Scarcely an hour later finds them spread back out on the same training field for an hour of tai chi. The quiet flow of their movements belies the sweat that you see when you get up close. A short break and they are back for chi gong, practicing one of the original action meditation sutras taught at the Shaolin temple over 1500 years ago. They are focused and silent as they go through the movements, the beautiful morning sun of the Catskills pouring over the mountain. Another bell rings, and it is time for lunch; it’s not even noon, and there is still more to come.

So began every day for the campers at the USA Shaolin Temple summer camp. It’s a vigorous way to start the day, but not as vigorous as the three hours of kung fu practice that followed every day’s lunch encompassing a myriad of explosive moments and kicks, jumps and stances and intensive group stretching. Basic movements were followed by more complex combinations until students were learning an entire form, built upon the elements they had learned.

Each moment of each day the campers lived and breathed the life of Shaolin warrior monks. Mind and body trained together as they pushed themselves physically and mentally: stretching farther, jumping higher and moving faster than they ever had.

“It’s an amazing transformation,” remarked one counselor. “Some of the students thought they weren’t going to make it through the first day, and by the end of two weeks they were training the hardest of everyone.”

Stretching between classes

But it wasn’t just the physical challenge that made the experience so dynamic for the participants. Each day’s training ended with a lesson in Chan philosophy and Shaolin history, where the campers learned the story behind the training they were receiving and the philosophy with which it developed. Each student was able to engage in the conversation, ask questions and offer perspectives that enriched the practice for everyone involved.

One student shared, “I train kung fu at another school, and it’s really good, but we don’t learn so much about the philosophy or the history, and it really makes it different.”

Taking a group picture on the last dayAt the end of camp, as families arrived, students excitedly introduced them to the counselors who had taught them, proudly displayed the beautification projects they had helped with, and couldn’t wait to the final demonstration to begin showing the different movements and techniques they had learned. In this demo by the campers and staff, families were treated to a “day-in-the-life” performance of everything that had been learned over the two weeks. It was finished with each student receiving a certificate of completion from Shifu Shi Yan Ming. There were hugs and even tears from campers and instructors alike, who after two weeks of living and training together, were reluctant to get in their cars and drive away. All were discussing how they would continue their training until they could return to camp next year, taking away the message of Shifu’s closing statements, “Train harder. Life is precious. There’s no time to waste it.”

Parent Testimonials – Debbie and Namjin

One of the privileges of parenthood is opening doors to the world for our children. Our son decided to enter the door of the USA Shaolin Temple 10 years ago. The discipline of training, focus of understanding and long term friendships he developed have been a blessing for him and our entire family.

- Debbie, retired mom

Training at the USA Shaolin Temple and Temple’s summer camp has been a great opportunity for my 16 year old son to have something that he does better than his parents, when he feels that everything in life so far mom and dad do better than him. After just 2 weeks at the Summer Camp my son transformed into a more mature, intelligent, self-sufficient young man, and became more efficient in his studying by prioritizing and managing time more productively, as well as eating and sleeping better.

I feel the camp helps teens have the opportunity to perfectly survive, enjoy, and train hard without any help from parents. It gives them a sense of responsibility and empowers them to be able to conduct themselves in a rigorous but loving training camp environment enjoying every moment of it. The kids learn to respect, encourage, support, and inspire each other during the challenging times. Finally, the fresh air, healthy foods, and daily Shaolin warrior monk style training makes a healthy difference in their lives.

- Namjin, Yoga Instructor

Camper Testimonial – Alex

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.

Benefits of Shaolin Training For Kids and Teens

In today’s modern world, stress in daily life is increasing exponentially, and the challenges of growing up have children now experiencing levels of stress once reserved for their parents. An active lifestyle has long been recommended not only for physical, but psychological health, and numerous studies have been done over the years showing the correlation between exercise and an improved mood and reduced stress.

Most recently, the New York Times published an article discussing a scientific study which found that children who exercise generally report much happier moods and less symptoms of depression than those who don’t exercise. The study found that when given a stress test involving math and storytelling challenges, children who exercised showed relatively no increase in the stress-induced hormone cortisol. The least active children in the study had the highest stress levels. Dr. Disa Hatfield, who commented on the study, noted that “In a school, a child who gets more activity on a daily basis will respond better to everyday stressors like tests and social challenges.”

Unfortunately, only 29% of high school students in the US meet the national guideline of 60 minutes of exercise a day, and it is difficult for parents to find engaging and meaningful summer activities for children that they will be excited about pursuing. Shaolin kung fu is an excellent solution to this conundrum. As Shifu says, a flexible body and a flexible mind are one. Not only does training build stronger muscles, increased stamina, and greater flexibility, it develops self-confidence, self-understanding, and reduces stress in participants of any age.

Unfortunately, only 29% of high school students in the US meet the national guideline of 60 minutes of exercise a day.

What better way to prepare your kids for the upcoming school year than letting them grow physically and emotionally by experiencing authentic kung fu training program with the USA Shaolin Temple in beautiful upstate New York? Not only will the students experience a stress reduction, so will their parents, knowing their children are growing stronger in both mind and body.

Shaolin summer camp program in NY

A Fresh Take on NY Summer Camps

If you’re like most parents, the approach of summer signals one thing: the end of your child’s school-year and the search for fun and rewarding activities for their summer months.

Summer camps, especially sleep-away camps, have always been a great way for parents to provide their kids with safe and engaging activities for those long unstructured months. And there is nothing more reassuring than knowing your children are under the guidance of trusted professionals who are committed to their safety and enrichment. The USA Shaolin Temple, a non-profit located in NYC, run by 34th generation Shaolin Monk Shi Yan Ming, has a fresh new take on the tradition of summer camp.

The only martial arts training camp of its kind in the United States, the USA Shaolin Temple offers teens aged 11-17 the opportunity to live and train like a Shaolin monk at our beautiful temple in the Catskills of upstate New York.

For two weeks, your child will experience traditional Shaolin life under the guidance of skilled martial artists and professional camp youth instructors. This camp offers the unique opportunity not only to engage in a rigorous study of kung fu, but also the other traditional disciplines of tai chi and qi gong. A variety of healthy, authentic cuisine will be served up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – one day might include Chinese rice porridge for breakfast, pasta and salad for lunch, and tacos for dinner.

We cater to special dietary needs as well, such as vegetarian, gluten-free, and kosher. Extracurricular activities will span everything from Chinese calligraphy to Shaolin history and philosophy. The experience trains campers’ bodies physically, exposes them to a rich cultural tradition, and leaves them feeling stronger, more confident, and with better self-understanding when they leave.

On our website you can get information on our rates, dates, read profiles on our fully-certified staff, and learn more about the history and tradition of Shaolin. Amituofo!

Parent Testimonial – Tony

Tony, a retired teacher from Brooklyn, shares how training at the USA Shaolin Temple had a huge impact on his teenage son.

My son began working out at the USA Shaolin Temple in Manhattan around the time he was starting high school. I was delighted with the energy, enthusiasm and dedication that he developed with the group. His commitment to training several times per week was remarkable. The benefits to his physical growth and conditioning, while very significant, were far outweighed by his growth in maturity, perspective and patience. The practical philosophies he learned from his fellow students not only helped him in navigating the daily challenges of teenage life, but also brought us closer together. I would strongly encourage any parent to give their child the gift of the Shaolin experience.

Camp Dates and Rates Announced

2014 Camp Dates & Rates:

Campers must sign up for at least one complete session, so that they may finish the minimum level of our camp curriculum.

Session Dates:
Session 1: Sunday, August 3rd – Saturday, August 9th
Session 2: Sunday, August 10th – Saturday, August 16th

Session Rates:

Overnight Day Camp
One Session $650 $525
Two Sessions $1300 $1050
Returning Camper Discount $1170 ($585/session) $945 ($473/session)
Register Before May 31st $1170 ($585/session) $945 ($473/session)


Discount 1: Returning campers receive a permanent 10% discount

Discount 2: Any camper registering before May 31st receives a 10% discount

Discount 3: Group discounts available, please contact us for more details.

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