by Rachel, American Christian Faith Adviser, NC Camp
On Tuesday afternoon American K4P staff and volunteers began arriving at Camp Kanuga in North Carolina. Slowly over the course of the afternoon the main office filled with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders, counselors and facilitators from all across the east coast and as far as Jerusalem. Over the course of the next day and a half we spent time training and preparing for the arrival of the campers.
Early on in our sessions, Josh Thomas, K4P International Director, posed this question, “How does a two-week camp make peace?”
Throughout our sessions we began to delve into what that means and how we will be able to facilitate peace-making among the campers in the long-term. One of the major ways this two-week camp promotes peace is by connecting young campers with new friends who are different from themselves.
It is often difficult for us to get along with people who initially appear “different” from ourselves. In this program we are asking a group of nearly two dozen pre-teens to do it. They come from vastly different parts of the world with different religious and cultural upbringings and they will meet for the first time as a whole group here at camp. For many of the campers this camp will be their first exposure to some of the other Abrahamic traditions and to kids from other parts of the world.
In the staff training we discussed what this experience will look like for them and how we can support each child in their own practices, facilitate their respectful observation of other traditions, and find a community in our diverse group.
“I think it will call for us as staff to model vulnerability for the kids,” Lauren, American Jewish Faith Adviser for the program shared.
We hope that by opening up about ourselves and our experiences the campers will learn to trust one another and do the same. We are looking forward to a fun, thoughtful and eye-opening two-weeks as we learn to live together, play together and have meaningful conversation together.
We jumped into some activities this afternoon when we welcomed our four American campers to Kanuga and Camp Bob. We toured the campus, swam in the pond and prepared a welcome banner in Hebrew, Arabic and English for the Jerusalem campers arriving late this evening. The kids spent the afternoon decorating envelopes for each participant. The campers will be able to drop positive notes, thoughts and encouragements for one another into these envelopes throughout the week.
The evening was spent around the campfire roasting marshmallows and telling riddles with the Camp Bob staff who will be an invaluable part of our community these next couple of weeks. We now wait anxiously to welcome all of the staff and campers from Jerusalem who should arrive late tonight.