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. 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.
At Zen Mountain Monastery
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.
For more information on Zen Kids please contact Scrap at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on Zen Tweens, contact Kyusan at email@example.com. And for information on Zen Teens, contact Kien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome families regardless of class, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender expression. The only requisite is an interest in the Buddhist teachings and their application in daily life.
At Zen Center NYC
Zen Kids is our Buddhist themed program for families to spend mindful time together in a peaceful community. Programming is mainly designed for elementary school aged children and their parents and guardians.
The program begins promptly at 2pm with a shared snack. After families have settled in together, we gather for a brief period of zazen (about 5 minutes of sitting meditation) and a few minutes of kinhin (walking meditation with a fun game element). Next, we engage in a hands-on activity, through which participants explore the month’s theme. Activities have included visual art projects, yoga, skits, collecting trash, planting flowers, and so on; themes have included general topics such as kind speech and our connection with the natural world, and we’ve also looked at more specifically Buddhist subjects such as the Buddha’s life and the Eightfold Path. The program concludes at 4:30 after care-taking of the spaces we have used and a closing circle.
Before attending the Temple Zen Kids program we do ask that parents/guardians attend beginning instruction at the Temple or Monastery. For information, please feel free to contact Seijo Nevins at email@example.com.