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!
Soccer before breakfast has become the usual. Everyone has learned where to find the Kosher, Halal, and vegetarian food options. We are all ready for the moment of silence before our meals, and we wait expectantly for the song challenges when camp finishes lunch and dinner. In the mornings we work through interfaith and leadership activities, and in the afternoons we join Camp Merrowvista’s woodworking, boating, swimming, rock-climbing and other activities.
As our camp routine takes hold, our community is growing stronger. We are building on our Discovery activities, to take on bigger topics, and this morning’s Discovery block prompted us to consider the stereotypes we hold of others.
After breakfast, the group made their way to the chapel for a program called “paper bags.” They each received a stack of little papers and a pencil, and entered the room quietly. Each bag had one word written on it, including: “Jew,” “Safety,” “Muslim,” “Mosque,” and “Army.” The staff asked them to walk slowly around the room and write down the first word that they thought of at each bag. They put their papers into the bags and broke into their “peace pod” discussion groups when everyone was finished. As the de-brief slowly started, there was a tension in the air – kids admitting that they didn’t like what they wrote, and others worrying about their new friends’ thoughts.
“Paper bags” held remarkable moments of growth, in the context of a strong community of friends. As the facilitators read what was written in each bag, the kids had a chance to discuss how they felt and how they could work together to overcome stereotyping, conflict, and prejudice.
But what makes our camp unique is not simply the way that we foster powerful peace education. What makes camp unique is the way that this work builds deep trust, empathy, and love.
Fast forward to the very end of our day…the annual Kids4Peace Talent Show!!!
This year’s Talent Show was a special one. It was a full display of this remarkable community of new friends. Imagine acts as far ranging as Dabke dance, magic tricks, a basketball lesson, a “cup song,” modeling sunglasses, doing back handsprings and just eating an apple. The applause did not just get louder with each act; cheering and laughter filled the show from start to end. Everyone was celebrated for who they are and cheered on to be their very best. There was a palpable feeling of trust and safety in our community…you could get up and share anything you wanted, and you’d receive nothing but support. Now that sounds like the kind of world we all dream of living in!
These young peacemakers are not just learning to wade through rigorous conversations to confront injustice and build understanding. They are doing their work with celebration, joy, and dance.
Can you believe that just one day at camp can hold all of this:
- Sharing our sacred objects and learning from each other why they are important.
- Kosher chocolate chip pancakes!
- Sitting and listening to one another with care and intention. Learning how to hear someone else’s pain and to heal together.
- Feeling, firsthand, how frustrating injustice can be via a totally unfair (but super fun!) game.
- Getting letters/emails from mom or dad. Remembering how much our loved ones miss us.
- Taking a quick but much needed nap!
- Making friendship bracelets to share with new friends.
- Recreation time! Soccer, archery, outdoor survival, nature art, or rock climbing!
- Dance and theatre games with Brio Integrated Theatre which helped us find our joy and feel more confident in our own unique selves.
- Laughs and songs over dinner.
- Sharing with the entire Camp Merrowvista summer camp community about what it means to be a peacemaker. We shared our answers to:
- What does friendship have to do with peace?
- Why is it important to be friends with people different from me?
- How is my perspective changing because of Kids4Peace?
So much can fit into one day!
That’s the life of a Kids4Peace kid, though. Weaving in and out of intentional peacebuilding time and just plain having a ton of fun with friends who you never knew you could be friends with!
Good Morning! בוקר טוב صباح الخير