Kids4Peace is so excited that our newest chapter has launched its very first youth program. Rising 6th and 7th graders, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, came together today for an interfaith day camp. The whole K4P family sends lots of love to this newest chapter, and we can’t wait to see what these newest peace makers accomplish! Stay tuned to hear more about their week, and check out more photos and updates on Facebook.
By Rob Gleisser, K4P Cincinnati Day Camp Director
Wow, What an amazing day! Coming to camp this morning I did not know what to expect. I can honestly say that the kids and our wonderful staff blew me away. The enthusiasm in the room was apparent from the very beginning, and our camper’s willingness to participate established a camp community in which we were all able to succeed.
Our day began by getting to know one another. We played a variety of “get to know you” icebreakers that allowed us to loosen up a little bit as we prepared for our day of learning and dialogue. The theme for Day 1 was listening and we worked hard Monday morning figuring out how to become a more active and effective listener. We created a community contract, where we envisioned how we wanted to act within our Kids4Peace community, and how we wanted our Kids4Peace conversations to sound and feel.
After formulating some discussion guidelines and framing the day surrounding our theme of listening we spent some time with members of the amazing educational staff from the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati. Our teachers, Nina and Fatimah, led us in an interactive program about Islam, where we went on a tour of the prayer space, learned some Arabic words, and created a painting using Arabic script. Our final products each read “alhamdulillah” meaning “Praise to God,” a phrase that is consistently represented throughout each of the Abrahamic religions. We were treated to a lovely meal of schwarma, pita, and hummus, and we spent some time during lunch talking about how each of our faith traditions approaches prayer before and after a meal.
Following lunch we played a few rounds of what was surely a favorite camp game called Mafia. It was great to see the campers working and playing together, and it was clear that the work we had done on community building in the morning allowed our campers to interact with each other comfortably. After our game we jumped into a truly remarkable dialogue session. We learned about the importance of effective vocabulary. The Kids4Peace counselors and staff led activities, discussing how harmful stereotypes can be, and they were given an opportunity to discuss how they interact with stereotypes throughout their everyday life. As our campers began to open up about the challenges that they each face as members of different identity groups, it was easy to sense that we were building a group dynamic that promotes openness, understanding, and support.
We finished the day by learning some camp songs and the Kids4Peace cheer. It was an incredible day where we created the foundation on which we will build our camp. We established some safe space guidelines, we learned a ton, we had a lot of fun, and we began to truly get to know one another. I can’t wait for tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing what the rest of this week will bring!