Today we spent time closing our week together, thinking about what we want to take from our week growing as peace leaders back into our home communities.
We began our day with extra special Kids4Peace-only interest groups – led by our wonderful Counselors-in-Training! The CITs taught us how to become ninja masters, brush up on our handball skills, and Zumba around the world, just to name a few.
After lunch we spent some time relaxing together and being silly around our lodge, enjoying the last day together as a group. It was a hot one, so we were super glad to head down to the waterfront for a bit! We were able to go boating again today, one of our favorite activities!
Once we were all cooled off, we set off on a scavenger hunt throughout camp to search for the values we are going to take home with us. We were led to the smoothie bike, arts & crafts lodge, garden, activity center, everywhere! We then spent some time sharing with our Peace Pods what values are most important to us and what they mean to us individually. A lot of people discussed taking the values: healthy risks, perspective, empathy, creative solutions, and tolerance home with them.
We then spent some time preparing for the Celebration of Learning tomorrow. We are so excited to see you all and share how we have learned and grown this week with you!
To close our day, we came together around a campfire. Our Jewish friends lit the havdalah candle, signifying the end of Shabbat. We had some time for more questions before we moved into our closing festivities.
Our campfire was brought in via torches on canoe, thanks to our wonderful cooks! We shared what being a peace leader means to us, and lit the candles of those around us. The closing campfire was a reflective time for us all to come together and think about what we have learned and where we are going.
We are excited to see our families tomorrow at the Celebration of Learning and share even more about our wonderful week!
Today we were glad to all come together again after our grand adventures yesterday! We traded tales of our hikes, camping out, and making s’mores. Today began the weekend of sharing our traditional weekly faith practices together.
After settling back in at camp, we made challah together in preparation for Shabbat dinner. The campers enjoyed braiding their bread, learning about the tradition behind challah, and decorating their breads with cinnamon sugar, chocolate chips, and raisins! It was fun to play with our food!
We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the eating lodge with an especially long round of song challenges. We are doing a great job learning the camp songs and sing them passionately!
After lunch, we watched our Muslim friends make wudu and pray Jum’ah. It was a quiet time to pray for those of us who are Muslim and a quiet respectful time to observe for those of us who are not. Afterwards, we spent time asking questions and learning bout one another’s tradition.
We cooled off in the lake with a rousing game of water volleyball and some swimming to break up our afternoon. Our competitive sides really came out!
Once we cooled off, we shifted gears and spent some time returning to the ideas that we have worked so hard on all week. We participated in an activity where we were each given a new identity, faced with difficult circumstances and situations. We discussed the ways we could step into action in response to these circumstances, as the person with the identity or as a bystander. We thought about the needs we see most clearly in our communities, and the ways that our voices can be heard best.
Before dinner, our Jewish friends lit the Shabbat candles and did the Kiddush, while we respectively observed. Over a delicious Shabbat meal we asked questions and learned about our Jewish friends’ practices.
After dinner we had a ton of fun sharing our talents with our Kids4Peace community during our talent show. With a Hamilton rap, a motivational positive speech, magic tricks, Hebrew tongue twisters, soybutter and jelly silly hands, gymnastic tricks, and telekinesis, we were laughing the whole time!
We are all excited to head to bed early tonight after our long day today, and are looking forward to our special Kids4Peace interest groups tomorrow!
To see more of the fun we had, view the pictures from today here!
As always, we’ve packed our day full with the sort of playful, silly, and joyful activities that make a camp day oh so sweet! In fact, today was one of the highlights of camp…our hike! You won’t believe how amazing the views are from the top of the mountain, but our sore legs sure are a testament to the heights we climbed! Check out photos from the hike and more at this link:
But one of the things that makes Kids4Peace so special is that while we’re pushing ourselves to climb mountains and form new friendships, we’re also constantly focused on what it means to be peaceful and what it takes to make the world more peaceful. Recently we had the opportunity to share our thoughts with the other campers at Merrowvista. Here’s a blog update from Merrowvista’s website that describes the experience from their perspective (see the original at this link here):
On Sunday, Merrowvista welcomed Kids4Peace campers to our community. Kids4Peace brings Muslim, Jewish and Christian young people together for a week of interfaith dialogue with the goal of building understanding and respect. From this foundation, they leave camp with skills and goals to be a Peacemaker in their communities.
These Peacemakers in training join the larger camp community for meals and for two interest groups a day. Last night, they led an Evening Reflection on the concept of peace. They shared their thoughts on what peace is and why peace is important.
Some young people referenced how things they heard on the news made them feel, both as a person of a specific faith group but also as a peacemaker wanting equality for all people. Some quietly shared their vision for peace in our world, and others spoke passionately about their desire to create change and inviting all the campers and staff to stand against prejudice and stereotypes.
They spoke from the heart, and with honesty.
“Peace … can be achieved if people will listen to everyone’s opinions. The key is to have discussions rather than arguments.”
“Peace allows people to be who they are. Peace to me means hope and a connection to your inner self.”
“Peace to me means equality, everybody and every single stereotype being together. Peace is important because with it, everybody can be equal.”
“I think some people should have more positive actions and words. Sometimes people talk about how bad Muslims are when that is really a stereotype. I’m Muslim and some people in this wonderful camp are Muslim too. We should just take time to understand who Muslims really are.”
“Peace is important because it gives each religion the respect and equality it needs.”
“Peace needs: Honor and Trust, Diversity, Making Friends, Love, and to get rid of Stereotypes and Racism.”
“Peace means everyone getting along and feeling safe anywhere they go and not having to change themselves for safety and happiness.”
The evening ended with a few minutes of quiet where campers were invited to reflect on a few questions – what peace means to them, why they think it is important, and what they think we need to do to be peacemakers. Great questions for us all to consider!
One of the most wondrous parts of living at Merrowvista each summer is that it is a community created and cared for by our campers. Our staff facilitates and guides, but the power of this community is that what is created is theirs – the campers’! We begin each day with their thoughts on topics important to them, and often end our days with their voices. Their own, best selves bring the values to life. It is hard work, but filled with learning. Listening to the Peacemakers share last night, and watching our campers listen thoughtfully and respectfully, brings such hope for the future! If only all adults had the chance to really hear what these wise campers have to say.
Peace ~ Salaam ~ Shalom
Today was another great, full day! The Counselors-in-Training really stepped-up their leadership role in planning much of the day’s happenings. We started with a guided meditation in the morning, which was focused on the importance of thinking before acting. When breakfast finished, we had fun doing Arlos (washing dishes for the whole camp) and sang lots of songs while doing so. Daniel Anderson, the Assistant Program Director, also came to join for the day, arriving just in time to visit some of the interest groups shared with our host camp and campers. During our afternoon Discovery Block, our focus was on privilege and perspective, and we portrayed these issues through a challenging, yet fun, game called Monster Mash. After so much powerful conversation, we went to relax and play at the lake, and our fun there included balance competitions on the paddle boards. Entering late afternoon, we took more time to plan more of our various presentations on our religious traditions. After a ’50’s themed dinner, we returned to our lodge to dive more deeply into the concept of privilege and how to address it within ourselves and others through engaging and powerful activities led by the Counselors-in-Training.
To see pictures from the day:
Day three has been great! We’ve all come together and are integrating well. The youth had the opportunity to make many new friends at our host camp through joining them in various Interest Groups: archery, diving, football, paddle boarding, sailing, mod podge, and many more. After this, we all gathered together again to discuss why we’re here with Kids4Peace, the issues facing our respective communities, and the importance of taking risks as a peace leader. When we finished, everyone headed to the lake to relax, swim, and paddle board. Dinner was Taco Tuesday, and afterwards we hung out with the Green Team to learn about the compost and gardening system used here at Camp. For evening reflection, our Kids4Peace Boston campers had the chance to share their thoughts on the importance of creating a peaceful world, and they did so with strength and passion. Our long, full day was closed with small group conversation and sharing. Now we’re looking forward to another great day tomorrow!
To see come pictures from this morning’s activities:
Goal setting – working together as a team – challenging ourselves: these are all themes of our second day at camp. Wow – what a busy day! We began by setting goals for ourselves. Examples of the many things campers mentioned are: getting to know new people, learning something new about a different religion, trying a new activity, and having fun! Our boys and our girls each had a turn to work together as a team on the challenge course, including the Whale Watch which required that each group figure out how to balance on a large wooden platform without talking! Both the boys and the girls group worked amazingly well together! (Check out the pictures to really figure out what they had to do.) Candle -making allowed campers to discuss the recipe for a successful week at camp, and a session on the indoor ropes course enabled campers to challenge themselves individually as well as support and encourage their peers through their challenges on the ropes course. All of the day’s activities showed that small things make a big difference (to others and to ourselves) when building a community and working together as a team. After spending the evening singing around the camp fire with our host camp – including performing a song for the entire camp, we closed the day by practicing intentional listening in pairs learning why each camper chose to come to Kids4Peace camp.
Oh, and in between all of this we had another fabulous swim in the lake in the light rain! Everyone will sleep very well tonight!
CLICK HERE to see photos from today!
Kids4Peace Boston Peace Leader Camp has finally begun! A little rain did not stop the campers and staff from having an incredible first day. We spent time connecting and re-connecting, both new campers and returning campers, and getting to know the camp routine. After settling into our rooms and playing some get-to-know you games, we took swim tests in the lake. Swimming in the lake in the light rain was quite peaceful! After a dinner, filled with energetic singing (a tradition at Camp), a treasure hunt helped all K4PB campers get to know their way around these beautiful surroundings. During the evening activity, we shared the story of Abraham’s tent – found in all 3 Abrahamic faiths – which laid the groundwork for the hospitality and generosity we all want to offer each other at camp and reiterated the commonality among our religions. During our “closing the day” session (a time for all to reflect on and share thoughts about their day), many mentioned how excited they were to finally be here after so many months of thinking about camp and how much they are looking forward to a full day of activities tomorrow. The Kids4Peace Boston CITs (counselors in training; all 11th and 12th graders who have been in K4PB since they went to camp after 6th grade) are amazing role models, helping campers get to know one another, leading games, and just making sure all are having fun.
One of the staff members said that the K4PB campers brought the sun to camp even when the sky was cloudy!
CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM THE FIRST DAY OF CAMP!
The AMAZING staff and Counselors-in-Training (CITs – 11th and 12th grade Kids4Peace Boston participants) can’t wait to welcome the Kids4Peace Boston (K4PB) 7th and 8th grade Peace Leaders to Camp on Sunday! We have been preparing to make the week at camp more EXCITING and FUN than ever before. We have incredible activities planned and will make the most out of the beautiful setting at Camp Merrowvista (our VERY generous host for the week).
We know that parents and families will want to follow along. So check here daily for updates and a link to photos on facebook.
See you at the bus on Sunday morning!
Another exciting, action-packed day at Kids4Peace! After an early start and a sad goodbye to Camp Merrowvista, our home for the last 8 days, we loaded our bags onto the bus and headed back down to Boston. The amazing singing talent of our kids was showcased all the way back from camp to the delight of the staff. All of the kids promised to keep their day jobs.
Our first stop today was the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center where we had lunch before a quick tour and Jummah prayers. After prayers and a compelling sermon by a guest Imam, we sat with our friend Nancy who answered a number of thoughtful questions we had about the service and Islam in general. She was very knowledgeable about the history of the ISBCC and commiserated with us about the difficulties of parking in Boston. She spoke about peace in Islam and helped us understand more about the practice of Islam in Boston and in other parts of the world.
After the masjed, we moved into our new accommodations in Newton, MA and enjoyed some easy time and a fabulous PIZZA DINNER!! Although we miss Camp Merrowvista, we certainly can’t complain about the pianos we can play, the beautiful soccer fields, comfy beds, and air conditioned rooms! We then walked to Temple Shalom of Newton where we had another quick tour before song filled Shabbat services. Rabbi Gurvis and Rabbi Abrasley spoke passionately about the importance of keeping an open heart and bravely loving others…even if you don’t get along with them. The congregation praised us for the hard work we’re doing, reminding us all that what we’re doing at 12 years old, some people never do in an entire lifetime! They even showed their gratitude and support with ice cream during the Oneg! Woohoo!!!!!
After the walk back (we got in about 3 miles today) the kids got ready for bed, Gabe turned into a soap zombie but he seems to have gotten better. Long story short it was a long day! And we look forward to a slower paced Shabbat day tomorrow while we await our Church visit on Sunday.
What a beautiful last day at Camp Merrowvista!
We spent the morning reflecting on our time here together through a camp-wide scavenger hunt that reminded us of everything we have done and worked on so far. Hidden on trees and rocks and by buildings and benches, campers found slips of paper with words and themes from our week, such as “perspective,” “community,” and “empathy” among others. We shared with our peace pals which themes spoke to us the most, reinforcing the importance of the activities we did around them.
We ended the day and our time in New Hampshire the same way we do every year in Kids4Peace, with a campfire and songs! Each peace pod prepared their favorite song to lead the rest of the group in as we enjoyed the stunning mountains around the lake for the last time.
We asked all the kids to spend a moment and reflect on what they are grateful for and what they appreciated here in Kids4Peace. Here is just a small sampling of the thoughts they shared:
“I’m grateful to be here and meet new people and help change the world.”
“This couldn’t have been possible if everyone hadn’t tried, and we all had a heart and did try.”
“I’m grateful for Merrowvista giving us a place to stay at night.”
“I’m grateful for all the people here who have good hearts, because you have to have a good heart to make peace.”
“I’m grateful this isn’t the end.”
And we are too! This is not the end of our time together as we pack up to head down to Boston bright and early tomorrow morning. It was also mentioned many times by campers around the fire how grateful they were to have their peace pals here and we can’t wait to enjoy the rest of our time with them!