Day 8 – Monday, August 11

Archery. Why start a blog post with this word? Because it happened today!  It was not originally on the schedule, but camp generously switched some things around and offered us a chance to go. Half the kids went today and the other half will go tomorrow. Archery is extra fun because it is an activity that most people haven’t done before. For a lot of the kids it was their first time. Something you wouldn’t have guessed if you were watching due to all the bulls eyes.

We also had our last day of swimming today. The kids took advantage of it by swimming, diving , and splashing extra hard. There was even a game of water volleyball played. There were a few kids who hadn’t had as much experience swimming as some of the others.  Today however, a few of the strongest swimmers decided they wanted to support their friends. They helped them swim out to the dock and jump off. Quotes from this included, “You can do, don’t be scared I’m right here” and “That was AWESOME, I want to go again.” Another beautiful image.

We spent the morning doing some team challenge work and some Evening Reflection work. For the Team Challenge we played catch with a question ball. Whenever the ball was caught, whatever color the thumb was on, they had to answer the corresponding question. We also did an activity in which the group had to work well together to beat a challenge. It was a really hard challenge but both groups succeeded with flying colors.

Evening Reflection is when all of camp comes together to close out the day. When this happens, one group will be responsible for leading the reflection. Tonight was our turn.  The reflection took place in camps open wall chapel, with only one light illuminating the front of the room. Everyone who was sitting, sat in darkness. The kids stood up front, all together and each took a turn saying what they will bring back with them from their Kids4Peace experience, or why they are proud to be part of Kids4PEace. The reflection ended with the playing of a beautiful song called, Spark, written by a former Kids4Peace staff member. Once the reflections is over people are allowed to leave or stay in silence for however long they wish. SO many people stayed for a long time reflecting on what the kids said.  You could tell how much people were moved by the whole experience.  It was powerful getting to see the Peacemakers in action. They inspired and empowered all of camp.

Tomorrow is our last full day at camp and it is looking like we are going to continue riding the waves of AMAZING days!!!  Until then, sweet dreams!

Day 7 – Sunday, August 10

Today’s highlight… getting song challenged. That’s right, during lunch one of the other cabins challenged us to sing them a song in front of everyone in the dining hall.  KIds4Peace rose to the challenge. All of our campers and staff stood and circled round our challengers table. Then, on a 1, 2, 3 we sang the Kids3Peace chant as loud as we could… and that is loud! Here are the words for the cheer.

Everywhere we go, people want to know.

Who we are, so we tell them.
We are Kids4Peace, mighty mighty Kids4Peace.
Tired of the fighting, time to do the right thing.
We can do it better, we can live together.
Salaam, Shalom.
Shalom, Salaam
KIDS! FOUR! PEACE!

Now picture 25 campers singing that proudly. It was quite the scene. Not only was it a fun and exciting moment, but it was also a moment full of pride. As the kids sang you could tell that they were so proud to be a Peacemaker.  As there set of camp looked on you could see that they were proud to have Peacemakers in their community.  It was a great moment.

In addition to our awesome cheer, we also had some more time in our activity groups, had a great workshop on not just listening but really hearing others, and more. In the evening we had another thunderstorm come through, so every got all cozy and we setup a drive in movie! With the kids all huddled close together watching the movie, the line from the cheer “we can do it better, we can live together” seemed to be a reality. These kids, from all different backgrounds, who have known each other for only a few days, looked like a family.
From our Kids4Peace family to yours, sweet dreams!

Day 6 – Saturday, August 9

Once again today, we packed a lot into our day. However, there was one part that really stuck out. That was our hike to The Ledge (a huge rock formation on the top of a mountain overlooking camp and the whole Canaan Valley). The morning was spent preparing for the hike. First we prepped our stomachs with some yummy pancakes, and then we prepped our minds with a really interesting group discussion on Compassion. We then went back to the Eating Lodge to pack up lunches and fill up water bottles to sustain us on our hike.

We broke up into two groups and commenced our great adventure up the mountain. Along the way, everyone was partnered off and given a few topics to discuss and learn about their partner. This doubled as both a great opportunity to build relationships and as a great distraction for our less enthusiastic hikers! It was a warm but beautiful day for hiking and when we neared the summit we were definitely ready to be there.

For the final few minutes of the hike we asked everyone to walk in silence. It was a nice scene; a steady line of hikers walking in silence. As soon as the trail started to turn into rock and we could tell we made it, you could see a wave of excitement spread over the group. We stepped out onto the big rock (The Ledge) and looked out into the never ending view. From the top of the mountain we could see mountains, lakes, clouds and more. We were so lucky to have such a clear day.

Once everyone summited, we gave our tired feet some rest and ate our lunches. It is amazing how hungry hiking up a mountain will make you!  We then offered everyone some solo time. Some people reflected, some rested, some prayed, and some just took in the beauty. If you looked around there is no question you would be inspired by what you saw.  Not only a beyond beautiful view, but also young people taking time to appreciate the beauty of the view and the beauty of their new friendships.

If only we could have taken  picture of it. Oh wait, we totally did take a picture. LOTS OF THEM!!! You can see them on our Facebook page here. As beautiful as some of the pictures are, they don’t capture it all.

I know you’re probably thinking who cares what happened the rest of the day because the hike already sounds so incredible! Well, after a little post hike rest, we swam, played, joked, talked, wondered, laughed, ate, and “talent showed!” Yes, you did in fact hear talent show!!! Last night a bunch of kids signed up to perform. We had singers, dancers, stand up comics, some kind of juggling we don’t know the name of, and much much more! Many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many many laughs later, we went to bed.

We went to bed tired, proud, and full of life.

Sweet dreams!

Day 5 – Friday, August 8

The world is a complicated place. It is hard to deny that. However, for 25 campers in the woods of New Hampshire (and other Kids4Peace camps across the US), a new way of living together is unfolding. Muslims, Jews, and Christians, from all different backgrounds have come together and formed a much less complicated community.

It is a community built on friendship, respect, and hope.  It is amazing how these three things can “uncomplicate” things. At camp the kids don’t make assumptions about each other’s backgrounds, but are curious about them. They want to know their friend’s story. And, they want to share their own. Why? Because that’s what friends do. They get to know each other, so they can support one another.

Today  we saw a lot of supporting one another. From talking with a friend who was feeling a little quiet, to letting someone jump in front of them in a 4 Square game, the campers did the day right.  The theme for the day was love, and love is exactly what we saw today.

It was also a great day because we got to spend extra time at the waterfront! How awesome is that!? That meant wayyyyy more kayak/paddle board rides, jumps of the dock, and splashes in the water. We also had some more “option time” where the campers got to pick between volleyball, 4 Square, a spa, or meditation. There were some very loud and enthusiastic volleyball/4 Square players while over on the other side of camp, some very calm and relaxing meditation was happening.

More support was displayed during a big part of the day in which we learned about different religions. Built into our camp program is time for each religion group to share an experience with the rest of camp. Today we had our Muslim experience and our Jewish experience. The Muslim group did the Ju’umah Prayer and then the Muslim campers explained what all of the meanings were. They also answered all kind of questions about their religion that the rest of the campers asked.  The Jewish group shared a traditional Shabbat dinner and also explained the different meanings and afterwards answered questions. Both were beautiful experiences.

The best part of it all was the genuine curiosity and respect the kids had for each others religion. They all really wanted to understand all of the different aspects. We were discussing religion for a long time, and they remained focused and interested for the whole thing. It was pretty cool.  Everyone is very excited to experience the Christian tradition on Sunday.

The boys and the girls finished their days in opposite styles. The boys played a few round of Silent Ball (one of the best games ever invented… and it’s very quiet!) and the girl had a less loud dance party! Both great ways to close out the day.

While the world may be a little less compacted here at camp, we recognize that this is a unique and intentional community. We also recognize that the campers have helped create it, which means they have the power to take it with them. We continue to talk about how important it is for everyone to bring the friendship, respect, and hope that they experience at camp back with them and spread it far and wide.  If you’re reading this, hopefully you will help spread it far and wide as well!

Until tomorrow, sweet dreams!

Day 4 – Thursday, August 7

The last thing we saw before the sun set tonight… was a rainbow. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

Earlier in the morning we talked about different symbols that are used for peace.  And, in fact, a rainbow was one of them! We discussed how every color in a rainbow is strong and beautiful on it’s own. But, when those colors are combined, they make something magical. Something that none of those colors could create on their own.

What is happening at Kids4Peace Camp this week is similar to a rainbow. Kids are coming together from all different backgrounds, experiences, religions, homes, and perspectives. On their own, each camper and the community they come from, is amazing. But when put together, they make something magical. It was very cool for all of us to see both magical experiences crossover.

Ok, back to today. As hinted at before, it was another AWESOME day!!! We’ll begin our recap with scrambled eggs. They are delicious and also happen to be what we ate for breakfast today!  After breakfast we went into a beautifully renovated old barn on camp (called “The Bahn”) and everyone participated in a Creative Movement Workshop. Not only was it a new experience for most people in our group, but it was also so much fun. A HUGE thank you to Sahar Ahmed of Brio Integrated Theatre for coming up and running an incredible program!!!

We then went back to the same activity groups as yesterday. There was more painting, bracelet making, kickball-ing, basketball-ing, and boating! It was all super fun as usual.  Macaroni and cheese. It is more than just a cool word… it was our lunch today! And it was soooo good. However, eating a lot of it made us sleepy which worked out well because lunch was followed by rest hour.

After we rested for a bit we broke back up into boy/girl groups and created group “Recipe’s for Success.” A Recipe for Success is essentially an outline of expectations we have for one another to help us all create and foster a safe, respectful, meaningful, and fun community.  We discussed what key ingredients were necessary and once we agreed, we wrote them on a giant sheet of paper and then each traced our own hand onto that paper and signed our names. By tracing and signing we promised to follow this commitment to each other during our time together.

Mother nature decided to interfere with our plans a bit later in the afternoon (a beautiful thunderstorm came through) so unfortunately we were not able go swimming. That worked out however, because we needed that time for the kids to break into their religion groups and continue preparing for their “Sharing your religion” experience which is coming up in a few days!

We saved our highest energy level activity ’til last. After dinner we went back to the gym and played some epic games of dodgeball. People were ducking, throwing, and darting all over the place! The activity ended with a few games of campers versus counselors… the campers CRUSHED the counselors (to be fair there were less counselors)! After those proud victories for the campers, we all headed back (counselors heads were hanging low) and enjoyed some delicious s’mores around the fire. Nothing tastes better than a freshly roast s’more with a group of great friends singing funny songs next to you.  You would think s’mores might have given us a boost of evening energy, but it turns out everyone was so tired from our jam-packed-full-of-awesome-day that sleep and dreams came VERY quickly!

Hopefully tonight you saw the same rainbow as us, wherever in the world you may be (if not check our our Facebook page for pictures), and thought about the magic that can be created when all different communities come together.

Sweet dreams to all!

Days 1 through 3 Slideshow

Check out all the fun we’ve had during our first three days in this slideshow! #friendshipsthatchangetheworld #togetherpeaceispossible

Click here or on the picture to be taken to the slideshow

Day 3 – Wednesday, August 6

3 days under our belt and we have officially settled into camp.  Our theme for the day was balance, and today we represented that well. Friendships were made, stories were shared, and fun was had by all.  It was the perfect mix of playing and connecting.

After a delicious french toast breakfast the group came together to participate in an activity called ZOOM. This activity focused on perspectives. It led to some really interesting conversations about why people have different perspectives. We looked at how those different perspectives can cause harm if not talked about or fully understood, and we thought about ways in which people can better respect other people’s perspective. It was so cool to hear the wisdom these 12 year olds have. They have a very impressive perspective on perspective.

Next on the agenda was interest group time (during this time everyone signs up for an activity in which they want to go to everyday)! We played kickball and basketball, made bracelets, painted pictures, and explored the pond on boats and surf boards. They had a great time getting to experience camp’s programs. Another nice piece of this time is that they were in the programs with the other (non Kids4Peace) campers. Who doesn’t love making even more new friends!?

We were then, before we knew it, back in the dining hall for lunch! During lunch something very special happened… we participated in our very first song challenge!!! What is a song challenge you might ask? Great question. A song challenge is when one group, challenges anothergroup to sing and dance for them in front of the whole dining hall. This is done by banging on the table and chanting “SING US A SONG -insert cabin you are challenging here – SING US A SONG!” Lots of cabins try to win a song challenge but only the loudest and proudest wins… we won! We were graced with a beautiful performance of a song called, “Hey Hey Bo Diddly Bop.” Yep, that’s actually the name of the song. We sung along too!

After some post lunch rest, we had more activity time. Half of the group went to play soccer and half did some outdoor cooking. The cooking group baked apples with brown sugar and some other ingredient over a fire. It was DELICIOUS!  Everyone then went down to the waterfront to do some swimming and boating. In addition to spending time on and in the water, there were also some great non-aquatic moments. During the in between times the kids had lots of conversations teaching each other their own languages. It was awesome to see their interest in both the teaching and learning. Definitely something the world could use more of.

Dinner tonight was a 50’s themed dinner where everyone dressed and acted like we were in the 1950’s. There were lots of blue jeans, tucked in white t-shirst, and bandana’s in hair.  We also got to eat with some great 50’s music in the background. It’s good we had a big dinner, because we needed to build up the energy for what was coming next… a huge game of capture the flag. We split up into two teams (the panthers vs. the unicorns) and had a FANTASTIC game.  After the game we took a few moments to cool down and then in silence, headed into the woods for our first campfire. At campfire we sang songs, told a few stories, and reflected on our first few days together. It was a powerful way to end the day, sitting all together watching and listening to the crackling fire.

Can you believe all of this happened just today!?! Can you believe that we have already competed three full days of camp!?!  Can you believe that in those three days a group of 25 kids from so many different background and traditions have come together to form a strong, loving community? Believe it. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s adventures!

Day 2 – Tuesday, August 5

Today was our first full day on camp and to put it quite simply… IT WAS A GREAT DAY! We did so many things in what felt like no time at all.

It all began with an early morning in which we went as a group to discuss some of the overarching ideas we will look at during our time at camp. We talked about Camp Merrowvista’s motto, “My own self, at my very best, all the time” as well as what it means to be a Peacemaker.  From there we headed up to meet the rest of Camp Merrowvista (Over 300 campers and staff!!!) at the Dining Hall for breakfast. Much to our surprise, it was a special silent breakfast at camp. We had to sit and eat in silence (or more accurately sneak some whispers) until a chime was rung and all of camp screamed loudly and noise was once again allowed. It was a very fun way to start our first full day at Merrowvista.

After breakfast we went to the Gazzilion (half Gazebo/half Pavillion) and learned some camp songs. We sang songs about a moose, an avocado, and much more! During this time we also broke into smaller groups and everyone presented an object which they had brought from home. They explained the object’s importance, why it reminded them of home, and why they chose to bring it. It was the beginning of many discussions aimed at learning about everyone’s lives and traditions.

We continued our day by breaking up into the boys group/girls group and participating in a team challenge. Each group was presented with some different activities/challenges and had to work as a team to accomplish them. Some of the activities included a whale watch (giant balance beam), group juggling, and a magic carpet (a tarp game) and the kids worked so hard to overcome the challenges these activities presented.  They showed amazing teamwork and communication skills and really grew as a team. We then went back to the dining hall for lunch. This time it was definitely NOT silent. Towards the end of the meal there was singing and dancing and we got to practice some of the songs we had learned in the morning.

After lunch the kids went on a camp scavenger hunt. The goal of this was of course to have fun, but even more so everyone could get to see all of camp and learn how to get from place to place. We learned that camp is beautiful and that we will probably be doing A LOT of walking during our time here…. it’s huge! After all that walking we went back to our bunks and had some much needed rest time.

It was good that we rested up, because next on the agenda we had SWIMMING!!! Everyone went down to Dan Hole Pond (camp’s lake) and got to swim in the water. It was a beautiful day to be out there and everyone had so much fun. Next, believe it or not, we went back to the dining hall for dinner. It was pizza night which is always pretty exciting! That pizza then fueled us for our evening program where the kids got to choose between two different options, Yoga or Dodgeball.  Both groups had a great time!

We closed our day in our boy group and girl groups seperately reflecting on everything that we had done today (a lot of things). We also took some time to recognize some positive light we saw in other members of the group. Earlier in the day we had introduce “Light” as a theme, and challenged everyone to look for light in people around them. Everyone shared some really beautiful examples of light they saw in others.  Then everyone climbed into their bunks, put their heads on their pillow, and went to sleep, hopefully dreaming about all the fun things to come tomorrow!

Check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/kids4peaceboston) to see some pictures of camp, and check back soon for some more updates!

Day 1 – New Friends and Duck Boats

The day has finally come… Kids4Peace Boston Summer Camp at Merrowvista 2014, is underway!!!  Our home base for the day was The Society of Saint John the Evangelist Monastery in Cambridge, MA.  From there we went for a beautiful walk along the Charles River, had a Duck Tour around Boston (thank you Sergeant Meatball: our Duck Boat driver/tour guide), ate some delicious home cooked meals, and started forging our amazing camp community.  It was inspiring to see this group come together.  From our first circle-up in the morning, which consisted of awesome ice breakers, to saying sweet dreams to each other at night, our 25 campers and all of our staff really got to know/respect/and have fun with one another. 

After our full day in Boston we loaded onto a bus and a few hours, riddles, and jokes later, we found ourselves in NH at Camp Merrowvista. It’s hard to imagine how many amazing moments we will be experiencing over the next ten days. It’s going to be AWESOME!!!
Much more to come, so check back soon so we can fill you in on what we’re up to and you can be part of this amazing camp experience.

Preparing for Summer Camp

What do balloons, Torah scrolls, and Jewish, Christian and Muslim youth of Kids4Peace Boston have in common? All made an appearance at the second meeting of our Summer 2014 kids and parents on Sunday, May 5, 2014! These important programs offer an opportunity to introduce kids and parents before they meet their Peace Pals in our two-week summer program.

A special highlight of this program was a tour of the sanctuary at Temple Beth Zion synagogue in Brookline, Massachusetts. In a small group of students from their faith tradition, they wrote their questions about Judaism and the sanctuary space of Temple Beth Zion. Rabbi Judy Kummer introduced the participants to their sanctuary’s Torah scroll, and offered an opportunity for the participants to ask questions. Those who had never seen a Torah scroll were able to learn how the scrolls were physically created, and think about the similarities between their religious traditions’ scriptures and Rabbi Kumer’s Torah reading.

We look forward to our next event at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, MA, where we will continue to build our relationships and learn a bit about the Islamic tradition!

 

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