It was another incredible day at Kids4Peace Camp – busy and full of meaning and FUN! We woke up happy and full of energy. The boys even got ready fast enough to play soccer before breakfast. It is amazing to see everyone engaging together, taking risks and sharing stories, listening intently to others, and just laughing and enjoying camp with new friends. It seems like there’s no limit to how much we can learn about each other and each other’s cultures while having so much fun!
Anyway, this day was another really full one! After breakfast, we went to a photojournalism workshop called “Naming the World: Challenging the Single Story” led by Sheya who helped us think about what we see when we look at an image and how we can see images (and people!) as more than just one simple story.
In the second half of the workshop, we even had the chance to go out and capture this place and our community with our own cameras.
Check out this photo album for a sample of these photos:
We couldn’t swim in the lake today, but no worries, these awesome counselors created a water relay in our backyard full of all kinds of games in which everyone got soaked and cooled off. After drying off, we went to the third part in our religious observations: a Sunday Christian service led by our group’s Christians and Reverend Thomas Brown. As always, we concluded with time for questions and reflections.
One of the most important parts of today was when we grappled with the important questions of “What is a peace builder?”, and “Why it is important to talk about peace?” One of us summarized with a beautiful image of a peace builder: someone with …
- Helping hands,
- Warm heart,
- Vivid seeing , and
- Searching feet
The day ended with another game of soccer for the boys, and the girls taking their turn doing the dinner dishes (for all TWO HUNDRED people in the whole camp!) while having a dance party and singing together. (Of course, EVERYONE knew the words to all of the songs no matter where they came from or what language they spoke!)
Everyone is headed to bed excited about tomorrow’s hike!
It was a perfect day in New Hampshire! The sky was blue, a breeze kept the kids cool, and the lake sparkled in the sunshine. You’d never know these kids met each other only 3 days ago. Together, they sang (loudly) and laughed at meals, used photos to explore the importance of communication to fully understand the “big picture”, and jumped off the raft in the middle of the lake during the afternoon swim period – using the universal language of rock, paper, scissors to decide who would jump off the raft first! One of the Jerusalem kids switched easily between Arabic, Hebrew, and English to coordinate group jumps off of the raft.
The day ended with a visit to the camp compost station and garden; a break to play soccer and basketball surrounded by the green tree-covered New Hampshire mountains; prayers to close Shabbat and end the day; and time for reflection on what compelled everyone to join Kids4Peace. The kids gave too many amazing reasons to list, but some memorable ones included wanting to
- learn about other religions,
- meet new friends,
- become a peace maker,
- do something every day to create peace
- stop all the war
- and because my brother/sister loved it!
We fell asleep with happy hearts and can’t wait to wake up to another wonderful day tomorrow!
Friday was an amazing day! In the morning we selected activities that we wanted to do. Some of us went to the woodworking shop, others went to archery, and some chose to make challah bread for our celebration of Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath). Others of us were adventurous, choosing activities with intriguing names like “Ninja Training” and “Diving for Treasure.”
After lunch we had our first religious observance, the Muslim Ju’myah prayer. While Jews and Christians respectfully observed, the Muslim children and adults shared their prayers and their preparation for prayers with us. Afterwards, Christians and Jews asked many questions such as “Why do you pray on carpets?” and “Why do you turn your head to the right and left at the end of the prayers?”
After an hour of rest, called “Easy Time,” it was finally time for swimming in the beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Almost everyone swam out to the raft and jumped off many times. The lake was much colder than swimming pools in the Jerusalem area but it felt great after a couple of days of hot weather! A few people picked blueberries off of bushes near the waterfront and shared them with their new friends.
We then prepared for the beginning of Shabbat at sundown. This time, the Muslims and Christians respectfully observed as the Jewish campers and staff shared the lighting of candles, prayers, and songs. We then all ate a delicious kosher Shabbat dinner prepared by our cooks Ben and Shilla; including Shilla’s delicious recipe of Ugandan chicken.
In the evening, we played games and then, before bed, went out on our back porch to observe the full moon. We thought about our Kids4Peace family at camps all across the United States and far away in Jerusalem and the West Bank, all enjoying the same full moon.
Crazy Dinner! That’s just one of the activities that filled our day today. At Camp Merrowvista, twice every summer all 200 campers and staff dress in their craziest clothes for dinner, and Kids4Peace was part of the celebration this evening. Mismatched clothes, silly hair arrangements and a visit to the camp costume closet prepared us to be part of the fun. Not only all of that, but we also had pizza for dinner!
Earlier in the day, the Boston kids arrived to join their soon-to-be-friends from Jerusalem. In Kids4Peace we call roommates “peace pals” and each room has kids from Jerusalem and kids from Boston and each room has at least one Muslim, Christian, and Jew. To get to know one another, we played games with names like knankle bopper and dragon tail tag. The boys were challenged by an activity called “Whale Watch” which required all of them to balance on a large board on a fulcrum that rotates 360 degrees. At the same time the girls had a “Giant Swing” challenge where they had to work together to get their whole group from one area to another.
We also spent some time in religious groups getting ready for Ju’umah prayer (Muslim Friday prayers), Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath), and a Christian Sunday morning service.
It’s been a wonderful first day and we’re looking forward to swimming in the lake tomorrow!
Check out our photo album from this awesome day at:
The Jerusalem campers arrived yesterday evening and headed right to camp in the
Lake Region of New Hampshire. This morning most were up early – very early –
because 6 AM in New Hampshire is lunch time in Jerusalem. Early risers played
soccer, learned how to make origami boxes, and enjoyed the tall trees and view of
the lake from our back porch. We’re ready for a full day of activities!
Can you believe that these 12 young people and their wonderful staff are already in the air flying toward Boston for Kids4Peace summer camp!?!?
The local team, here in Boston, is extremely excited to greet them when they arrive! The Boston team just finished two days of staff training and have this enthusiastic message to share:
“Hello from most of this years’ Kids4Peace Boston staff! We jumped right into training, prepping, playing, and doing a little arts and crafts as we excitedly await the beginning of camp this summer!
The Boston team of six staff and two counselors-in-training have spent bountiful time together in the town of East Falmouth, a little south of Boston on the Cape. In a beautiful home just a few minutes drive from the beach, we practiced how to create safe spaces for dialogues, conflict resolution, and reflected on what it is like to be a twelve or thirteen year old. We’ve shared experiences where we have seen interfaith dialogue not only be successful, but beautiful, and gathered the key ingredients for this success that we can bring to K4P to help foster a positive learning environment. The energy and excitement to work with these incredible children is growing by the minute!
But it’s not all work…this is camp after all! We’ve also been playing games and cooking up a storm with team-challenge dinner! Do you know how fun it is to make vegan ice cream? We do! It perfectly complimented our tossed salad with homemade dressing and the choose-your-own-adventure entree of cous cous with stir fried veggies, falafel, kosher meat, and choice of two curries. What a feast to bring us all closer as a staff!”
A Sunday in Boston without a snowstorm in what feels like forever and a youth interface conference! Could it get any better? More than thirty Muslim, Jewish, and Christian youth came together from all over the Boston area for team-building activities and interfaith dialogue. Peals of laughter and excited voices filled the interfaith chapel as K4PB youth met and became fast friends with other teenagers from local churches, synagogues, and mosques. And the conversations in dialogue groups and workshops were respectful, thoughtful, and inspiring–just what you’d expect from teenagers committed to peace and interfaith understanding! After all, this was the conference that K4PB youth proposed, organized, and ran.
The day started early for K4PB youth–they showed up, cheerful and excited, to host an interfaith youth conference on Daylight Savings Sunday. The K4PB high school participants took their conference and their responsibilities as hosts seriously. They proposed the idea last year and were involved in its development from inception to the turning off of the last lights in the evening. In preparation for leading workshops and dialogue, the high schoolers have been getting together on many Sundays over the past couple of months to create and practice their presentations and dialogue plans.
Bright smiles flashed everywhere today! K4PB youth welcomed our guests as soon as they arrived and they introduced each guest to his or her K4PB host or hostess or “peace buddy.” The interfaith pairs then participated in fun large group and smaller group activities and got to know each other over snacks and games. They were pals by the time they sat down to listen to our guest speaker, journalist and author Linda K. Wertheimer whose book, Faith Ed: Teaching about Religion in an Age of Intolerance, will be published in the summer of 2015. Linda presented one of her upcoming books’ chapters as a case study and then the youth pairs actively participated in dialogue groups of eight around the issues of intolerance and education and world religions in public school. How bright does our future seem when youth from different religious and socio-economic backgrounds come together and talk and listen so candidly and with such sensitivity!
After dialogue, the youth led or attended their chosen workshop. Some learned words in Hebrew and Arabic; some thought about points their three faiths have in common; others observed and heard about objects sacred in each of the three faiths; the rest considered the place of race, faith, and justice in our world today. Before anyone realized it, it was almost time to say good-bye. But not before a rousing and inspiring closing ceremony! As the youth said their goodbyes, it was evident that each participant would be leaving with a new friend from a religion other than their own and there was no doubt that they were taking home the message that distrust and fear tear us apart but that trust and friendship bring us closer together. Later that evening, when the K4PB hosts were asked “who made a friend today that they’d like to see again?” all of them raised their hands.
In the anonymous program evaluation form, 100% of the youth said that they would recommend the event to a friend. The three words they used most often to explain why were: fun, informative, educational. When asked what they enjoyed most, the youth responded that they loved meeting their peace buddies, leading workshops and dialogues, participating in games, and spending time with other K4PB participants. Kids were pleasantly surprised by their ability to lead workshops and delighted with the openness and enthusiasm with which other youths joined in and participated in the dialogue and conference. When asked to rank their experience, half the participants said that they enjoyed the event overall, the dialogue sessions, and the workshop in which they participated a lot. In a 1-to-5 scale, they gave it a 1.
“It was good to have an event that was for non-K4P kids. I was proud that K4P kids were leaders.” ~ Paris, K4PB teenager.
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.
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.