July 27- 29, 2007 at the San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple
On the weekend of July 27-29, 2007 the CBE hosted the 3 rd annual YAC College Summer Retreat in San Luis Obispo, California. There were a record number of 33 attendees coming from all over the state of California. It was a time for many to catch up with old friends and for a few other freshmen, including myself, a glimpse into what college life hold for us in the near future. The weekend centered on the theme “GPS with Amida.” But for the weekend GPS did not stand for Global Positioning System, but rather a Guide to Practicing Shinshu. The retreat began on Friday night with a delectable dinner of Yakisoba and like every great church function more great food was to follow. Once we completed dinner and the majority of the attendees had arrived we began to break the ice and get to know one another. We each introduced our self to the group and then were challenged to recite everyone else’s name from memory as well as line ourselves up alphabetically with out speaking. We concluded the night drawing self-portraits that the other attendees had to guess who was who.
One great advantage of being in College YBA is the wake-up time is much later then at a typical Jr. YBA event; it’s a good thing because we didn’t exactly fall asleep early. With our late start we began Saturday with a scrumptious breakfast and an opening service conducted by the YAC Youth Minister Assistants.
At the completion of the service we had a mixer in which we found common connections between the other participants and ourselves, from the brand of toothpaste we used to how we folded or didn’t fold our toilet paper. The rest of the day consisted of different break out sessions where we discussed topics such as “What is a Buddhist?” and spirituality with Rev. Kobata and a talked about the reality of our future with Koichi Mizushima of Sacramento Betsuin. Through these discussions and lectures we were given a rough guide to practicing Jodo Shinshu Buddhism as well as a guide to our futures. In between the sessions we put on our “Jodo Shin Shoes” for a Toban group race, the winner earned the opportunity to have the first choice of what they would like to cook for the Iron Chef Cook Off.
The Iron Chef competition consisted of each Toban group cooking a particle dish that was to be judge by an expert panel of our advisors. Dinner was absolutely delicious with “Shish-ka-Buddha Bobs”, Spaghetti, Tacos, and ice cream sandwiches and rice krispys for dessert. Since all of the food was spectacular there was a four way tie. To end the weekend we participated in a walking meditation. Many who had not experienced the walking meditation before were amazed by the calm piece of mind and connection with the Nembutsu that was felt during the short period of time.
With many students unable to attend church on a regular basis it is important that events like this are hosted. It gives us the opportunity to continue to explore our religion and expand our knowledge of Buddhism as we continue to expand our minds. It is a time to reconnect, learn, and experience the Nembutsu as it pertains to our life at this present point. I can’t wait for my next College YBA experience and hope to see an even greater number of participants!
Hillary McElroy, Orange County Buddhist ChurchShare