We’ve been learning camp traditions and helping out the camp community in many ways. Last night the girls had a great time taking their turn in the dish room, washing dishes for about 150 people while dancing to music. Tonight will be the boys’ turn to do dishes. This morning some of the children brought the compost to the camp’s recycling center and learned how composting works and had a look at the bountiful garden.
In our interfaith groups we continued with more activities and discussion of trees, light, mountains and water through planting flowers in a new camp garden and hiking to a nearby waterfall. During lunch, Kids4Peace was “song challenged” by another lunch table of campers–meaning, we were challenged to sing a song for the whole eating lodge! We sang our “Mighty Mighty Kids4Peace” song. It was loud, proud, and lots of fun, and earned us a standing ovation!
The afternoon consisted of more playing out on the lake, followed by the kids breaking off and joining the rest of camp in various activities of their choice–sports, outdoor cooking, more archery and arts & crafts!
The camp invited us to lead an evening reflection for the whole community; we sang songs and shared our thoughts on and experiences with peace.
Today was “World Day” for the rest of camp, and Kids4Peace was asked to share a prayer before every meal–our Muslim, Jewish and Christian participants all stood in front of a very full dining room and prayed in three different languages, with a moment of silence afterward. The rest of the campers have been showing us such kindness and respect, it meant a lot to our kids to be able to share with them and give back.
We have four interfaith groups for our program’s theme: “Appreciating and Caring for God’s Creation.” One group focuses on water. Today their challenge was to work together to build a raft out of canoes, rope and logs, and then take it out on the water to retrieve a tasty treat. The mountains group worked to create a large map of life’s peaks and valleys with mountains representing good points or moments of pride in their lives, and the valleys representing difficult times for them. The trees, plants & seeds group made their own recycled paper, and the light group created a poster reflecting how each one of them saw light as a Muslim, Christian, or Jew.
It was a lovely afternoon at the waterfront, swimming, canoeing and kayaking, and then enjoying some free time with the rest of camp! After dinner, a couple of rounds of a game called “capture the flag” gave all the kids the opportunity to run around and release some excess energy from an exciting day, before we settled down for the evening back at our dormitory.
There’s lots to share from Day 5. Be sure to read on. Today’s adventure brought all of us together–with each other and the natural environment. We hiked a mountain! After our descent, the afternoon ended with another dip in the lake. After dinner, the Christian participants shared their observance of Sunday prayer.
The day began with some “jazzercise” style dancing. During our hike to the mountaintop, we stopped many times along the way to study the environment around us–the volcanic rock and the many different types of trees–all the while learning more about one another through guided discussion questions. At the summit, we all turned around in unison to take in the panoramic view on the lake and mountains beyond. It was breathtaking, and we all spread out and had some time for quiet, personal reflection. We sang songs together through mouthfuls of sandwiches, apples, and fig bars, and then gathered to shout a “tongo” (call-and-response cheer) to the camp waterfront a mile below!
There was time to relax once we finally arrived back down at camp, and since it had been such a hot, sunny day, we happily went for yet another swim!
After dinner tonight, the Christian participants put together a beautiful service, songs included, and the rest of our group observed peacefully.
Day 3 is our first day of integrating with the main camp. It’s been a busy time of morning reflection, team challenges, swimming and engaging in activities like archery, arts and crafts and windsurfing! All of our meal times were also filled with songs and cheers! We began this morning with our Dialogue Facilitators, Connor and Lauren, leading the group in a daily reflection. Many of our participants have brought religious objects with them, and this serves as an opportunity to inquire, teach and learn. For each reflection, one participant will pick an object that he or she does not recognize immediately, and then will make observations about it. Whomever the object belongs to will then have a chance to educate others about the object, and explain its purpose and importance to them. Today, a small Qur’an was chosen. Connor and Lauren also introduced our theme for the day: Respect. At breakfast, we received a warm welcome from the rest of camp in the form of a song! After the meal, we split into two groups. We played some fun games to get our bodies moving, and then began a series of “team challenges”. The group was given certain tasks and directions, and asked to complete the challenges by using their resources and working together. For example, one activity involved trusting and caring for one another (some participants needed to guide their blindfolded peers through a maze of obstacles), while another required the group to use communication to balance a moving wooden plank, while respecting each other’s varying perspectives. These challenges were followed by rich discussions of the kids’ experiences working through problems together, and what they had learned from the experiences and each other. After a very active morning, the boys took some time to rest and relax in our dorm….while the girls headed to the lake to swim! We then switched, and everyone got a chance to cool off in the refreshing water, surrounded by mountains (one of which we will be climbing together tomorrow!). In the later afternoon the kids were able to join the rest of camp again for activities such as archery, the climbing wall, basketball or rock jewelry-making. We ended the day with a wonderful campfire in the woods where we celebrated through songs, including one of our Kids4Peace theme songs (“We are Kids4Peace, Mighty Mighty Kids4Peace”). Our Boston Chapter Director, Peggy, introduced our theme of “Appreciating and Caring for God’s Creation.” The campfire concluded with some yummy “s’mores” a favorite American summer dessert.
This morning Jerusalem kids and staff were excited and ready for the arrival of our Boston participants–and, by 11am, Kids4Peace Boston and Kids4Peace Jerusalem were united at last! Friday is an important day of the week for both Jewish and Muslim religious observances and we observed the Muslim’s Jum’ah prayer and also Jews welcoming in Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
Both Jerusalem and Boston kids were full of energy and couldn’t wait to meet their “peace pals” from across the ocean. The backyard of our dormitory was filled with laughter, fun and play as our dialogue facilitators kept the kids moving and interacting with games. We all came together for a delicious lunch of make-your-own sandwiches, and then convened outside to learn and listen as our Muslim participants taught us about the ritual of ablution before prayer. The rest of the group then followed them inside, and our Muslim Advisor from Boston gave us an introduction to Friday prayer, followed by Call to Prayer. After prayer was finished, the Jewish and Christian participants offered observations and questions. There was so much to discuss and teach about, and that it’s a good thing as there will be many more opportunities in the next few days!
The afternoon also consisted of a tour of the beautiful (600 acre!) summer camp, and an activity involving the kids sharing what values they each wanted to be a part of our work together during the next two weeks including “trust”, “acceptance”, and “teamwork”.
We all gathered on the back porch to reflect on the nature that surrounds us, and have a moment of peace together before the sunset. The Jewish participants shared a song about welcoming in the Sabbath, followed by the the lighting of Shabbat candles and kiddush. Prayers were recited, and we all broke off pieces of three large loaves of braided, home-made challot, thanks to one of our Boston participants and his mom! After dinner, we changed quickly into bathing suits and headed down to the waterfront for quick swim. It’s Day 2 and life is good!!
All the days of planning, all the hours of worrying, all the fundraising efforts, all the time spent organizing, training, coordinating. It was all worth it as our friends and peace pals have finally arrived safe and sound from Jerusalem. The big smiles tell it all!!!