Rigpé Yeshé

What will give children a firm foundation on which to base their lives, is an education that is rooted in values of kindness and concern for othersSogyal Rinpoche, July 2009

Rigpa warmly welcomes children, teenagers and families to our annual retreat at Great Lakes. Rigpé Yeshé offers a daily retreat programme for children and teenagers and a caring and supportive environment for families.

Children are given a much-needed opportunity to enjoy the natural environment, to relax and reflect and to slow down the pace of their lives. The children form lasting friendships and look forward to returning every year to meet with their retreat friends.

The Rigpé Yeshé programme provides a clear path for children and teenagers, with a focus on developing their ability to:

  • settle the mind and get in touch with their true nature through the practice of meditation
  • refrain from harm to self, others and the environment
  • understand interdependence, cause and effect, and how to act skilfully in an interconnected world
  • be compassionate: cultivating kindness in attitude and action
  • be genuinely happy: based on developing the awareness and courage to take charge of their mind and emotions.

Rigpé Yeshé strives to include all those who wish to come to retreat. If you would love to come, but are finding it difficult to meet the cost of retreat, please contact Allysan Armstrong-Brown as soon as possible at allysanab@hotmail.com to discuss possible options.

Retreat Program for Children and Teens

Dharma Sessions

Rigpé Yeshé instructors offer dharma sessions for all age groups, from pre-schoolers up to teenagers. The dharma sessions include daily meditation practice and the opportunity to engage with Buddhist teachings in an open, fun and inquisitive way – we encourage the children to reflect, question and discover answers for themselves. The sessions are friendly and relaxed, providing an atmosphere where the children feel safe, happy and respected. We explore a different theme each year, some being: The Way to Inner Peace and Contentment, The Secret of Happiness, What Compassion Really Is, The Four Thoughts, You are Good.

The sessions typically consist of meditation, short video teachings from Tibetan lamas, stories, discussion, and creative and expressive arts.

Please note that we will be unable to register new children at Retreat Registration (on January 11th) if these classes are already fully subscribed.


Older children and teens act as mentors to the younger children helping to hold Dharma sessions and evening activities. In addition, the older children and teens help in many roles on retreat, such as shrine care, audio-visual & IT, site maintenance, reception, registration, fund-raising and catering.

Teen Programme

The daily programme starts with teen breakfast. The programme has many and varied activities, such as photography, calligraphy, drama, bushwalking, swims, fund-raising and lots of games.

The older teenagers may gather again in the evening for more social activities, such as beach soccer, a barbeque, or movie and pizzas in Forster. Some evenings, they will be joined by the younger teens.

Please note that some of these off-site activities attract an additional charge.

Parents with pre-teenage children (aged 11-12) are encouraged to discuss the optimal programme for their child with the Retreat Manger, Ally Armstrong-Brown, via email at allysanab@hotmail.com

Parent Retreat Support

Rigpé Yeshé Programme

Our Adventure Care Programme provides a safe, stimulating, and creative care program for children, while their parents attend teachings. Children who are aged 5 or over are eligible for the Rigpé Yeshé Programme. Themes from the Dharma sessions are woven into the day, so that children start to integrate what they have learned on retreat.

For safety reasons, children under 11 whose parent/s are in the teachings must be enrolled in this programme, with the exception of:

  • children attending teachings – parents must closely supervise their children during the teachings (whether in the main hall or the family listening area), or
  • children in the care of another adult or responsible person – whom the parent has arranged to care for their children during teachings.

Parents with pre-teenage children (aged 11-12) are encouraged to discuss the optimal programme for their child with the Retreat Manger, Ally Armstrong-Brown, via email at allysanab@hotmail.com

We strongly advise that you book places for your children before arriving at retreat, as there are limited places on this programme, Please note that we will not be able to accept children into the programme once it is full.

Pre-school Children

Unfortunately, we cannot provide child-care for very young children (those younger than five) as the premises aren’t suitable. However, many parents hire one of the responsible teens to babysit, as the teens are keen to earn holiday money. Another option is to hire a nanny or bring along a friend to assist.

Where there are two parents, they often share the care of their children so that each parent has an opportunity to attend the teachings. Some single parents also support each other in attending the teachings.

Family Listening Area

If you have children who are too young to attend the Rigpé Yeshé programme, you can watch the main teachings together in the family listening area, which has a live feed from the main teachings. The evening video teachings can also be viewed from here. Some parents bring their childrens’ sleeping bags in the evening, and the children fall asleep while the parents listen to the day’s teachings. We encourage the parents present to create the right environment to listen to Rinpoche’s teachings together.

Care for Parents

Those experiencing difficulties of any nature on retreat (emotional, physical, spiritual…) are invited to share their concerns with our Rigpé Yeshé Care Representatives, or with any of the Rigpé Yeshé team members.

Evening Catch-up Sessions

Parents often find it difficult to attend key video teachings during the day, and so we schedule an evening catch-up session for the main video teaching of the day. Please check the notice-board regularly for notification of these catch-up sessions.

From the Rigpé Yeshé Team

The retreat is an opportunity for children and parents to slow down, to reflect and appreciate, to connect with nature and with each other, and to connect with our own good hearts. We also hope to have fun together, find support and friendship, and inspiration, strength and joy in the teachings. We look forward to seeing you there.

We are working to improve and strengthen our program each year, and welcome all offers of help – time, effort, ideas, money, resources. Please contact rigpeyesheaustralia@gmail.com  for further enquiries or with offers of help.