After a long flight from Jerusalem with a stop in Madrid our travelers shared their first dinner in the US with their Boston PEACE PALS. Our weary Jerusalem children headed to bed with their Boston counterparts following soon after.
On Monday, we visited the Science Museum in Boston and explored exhibits like the “Human Body Connection”, “Science in the Park”, and a live (and very loud) lightening show! In the afternoon, we rested for a bit, had our last opportunities for basketball, volleyball, and more improv acting together, and then the kids (and staff) took some time to prep for the talent show! The big acts of the night included an expertly choreographed dance by the girls, a song about camp, friendship & peace by two participants, Jacob and Shai, and one of our facilitators, Connor, a dabke folk dance performance by another participant, Adan, and a skit involving a magic trick and a miscommunication–ending in one of our facilitators, Sarah, rubbing a banana all over her hair! The girls and female staff concluded their last night with a dance party on their floor of the dorm–with some sweet treats and home-made popcorn!
Kids4Peace Boston’s last morning together was one of closings, farewells, tears and hugs. Connor told a parable about making change, and not following something just because it is the way it has always been done. Never stop asking: why? We split off into our interfaith groups (Water, Trees, Mountains and Light) once more and each came up with two skits–the first showing a situation in the kid’s lives in their home communities (at school, for example) that would not lead to peace, and the second showing how that situation could be remedied, or done differently. We discussed once more our purpose as peacemakers, and as friends, and then transitioned outside to circle up for one last symbolic goodbye. We were all connected, holding tight to a single strand of chord, which Lauren then cut to size to fit our wrists. Heidi, our Boston Director, presented us with artful books encompassing our time together over the past two weeks, complete with photos and excerpts of the kids’ writing and words on peace. Also, a full list of contacts so that we may all stay in touch!
We will always remember Kids4Peace summer 2012, but we also know this is only goodbye for now. We’ll see you all in the continuation programs, and hopefully at our Vermont Leadership Camp in 2014!
Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Together, we can change the world. As is said in the gospels, the prayers and the preachings… Go out from here and treat everyone better
A day for giving and Abraham’s Tent
The day of the Kids4Peace Abraham’s Tent presentation finally arrived!
The group rose early today to attend the Society of Saint John theEvangelist Monastery in Cambridge (www.ssje.org) for Eucharist—two of our Christian participants were asked to take part. Afterward, the kids had many questions about the service, the monks, and especially the historical architecture of the building.
From there we went straight to Target to help our Jerusalem participants find gifts for family and friends, and then it was back to our dorm to practice for the night’s events.
After all the preparation, the kids were able to show a community of Boston participants’ families, donors, and supporters all that they have worked toward and experienced together so far. In the near capacity-filled auditorium, the interfaith groups each had a chance to show or describe their learning, we sang songs, presented our Eid gifts for Muslim children in need, and the kids had an opportunity to share once more of their reflections on peace and their hope that through communication and seeing BOTH sides of issues small or large, peace can be accomplished. The audience heard true accounts of the devastation that conflict brings to peace loving peoples and the fully attentive audience also heard one of the older participants describe the next level of the Kids4Peace involvement. He and his friends meet back home in Jerusalem to discuss the more serious aspects of conflict and peaceful resolutions. He spoke emotionally of the fact that the quest for peace does not end with summer camp in a tranquil retreat in New England. The kids wore big smiles and were confident and eloquent in front of such a big crowd! They made us all proud, and the audience was touched and blessed by their presence and outspoken honesty.
Saturday is Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, and we spent our day today in and around our Boston residence. It was one of the hottest days yet, and lucky for us we spent a full morning in the pool! There was water basketball, swimming, jumping off the high dive boards–even an impromptu diving lesson!
Afterward, the kids participated in an activity focused on stories and perception. Each group was given a series of images and asked to figure out the story they tell, and then relay it to the group without showing the images. As it turned out, all of the images were interconnected, telling one larger story. The kids picked up on this very quickly, and the activity sparked one of the most introspective dialogues about stories–hearing one part of the story versus the whole, how it may be difficult to understand one person’s position or perspective (and easy to judge) if one does not know the whole picture of that person’s story, and if certain pieces are missing from the whole, does that mean the story the parts tell are any less “right”?
After an activity so rich with insight, we needed some time to enjoy the space and play around outside and in. One of the founding Rabbis of Kids4Peace Boston, joined us after lunch for some team challenges, and music/rhythm making with various instruments! Following a rousing jam session, the staff decided on our own set of activities similar to ones the kids would have experienced at camp–soccer, basketball, improv acting, beat-boxing, arts & crafts and yoga(!)–and allowed them to sign up for two blocks.
The day concluded with full bellies, and more large group games outside as the sun set. When the first stars appeared, our Jewish participants brought in the new week and bid the Sabbath farewell with a traditional Havdallah ceremony on the field.
Friday was a busy day of interfaith learning. After breakfast, our Muslim faith advisor educated us on the approaching month of Ramadan, and then we created cardsto go with our Eid (holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan) gifts for Muslim children in need. We were invited to the Islamic Center of Boston for the Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer, with a tour and question and answer session. We stopped back at our residence for a little while for some basketball and games outside, and then headed to Temple Beth Shalom for Shabbat services. The kids were very interested and inquisitive, drawing connections between Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith practices and offering poignant observations.
Both the Islamic Center and the Temple were incredibly welcoming, and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to visit and learn!
The move to Boston went smoothly today. We shared a bittersweet goodbye with camp this morning; friendship bracelets were exchanged, many hugs were given, and after one last farewell song, we were off! We arrived safely, and the Boston staff were ready to meet us, decorations, snacks and all!
The kids ran immediately to the basketball court, and we all had some time to play before heading out to meet our amphibious Duck Tour bus: it took us all over the sights of Boston, and even into the pond (with the ducks)!
After a delicious first dinner at our new living quarters, we gathered for some reflections on a day of transition and then went straight to bed for a good night’s sleep.
Today was our last day at camp so we took advantage of every sunny minute!
In the morning, our interfaith groups continued their activities utilizing our natural camp environment. The mountain and light groups went for a hike to some ledges facing out over the mountains and valleys leading into camp. The water group used bark and wood to create their own individual boats and sailed them down the camp stream, while the trees, plants & seeds group decorated rocks to identify the herbs and flowers in the garden they had planted the day before.
In the afternoon we packed (and did our laundry!), rewarded ourselves with a swim, and then the kids had more fun activities that took them all over the camp.
We celebrated our time together with a campfire on the shores of the lake. Under the stars the kids shared stories of times they had appreciated each other, and each child received a small medal as a reminder of their capacity for positive change: “one enkindled spirit can set hundreds on fire”.
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.