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!!!