“It’s a revolutionary concept when you think about it which is to create tolerance at an early age and even, I would call it, passion or love for each other’s faiths and backgrounds, is huge.”
-Jacob Young, Counselor 2016
Passion for others experience flourished at the Kids4Peace Day Camp in Cincinnati, Ohio. This harmony amongst the campers was birthed from what Ryan Houston, a reporter with The Now Cincinnati who spent a day with the campers, calls a goal of showing the campers “we’re not all that different after all”. Jack, a camper, certainly found this to be true, noting that “we’re actually very similar,… and we worship one God, and actually the same God too.” Learning of these crucial similarities has helped Jack to also feel like he “has more empathy for other people of different ethnicities.” Another camper Jocelyn, a rising seventh grader from Wilmington, has had her perspective shaped since learning more about other faith tradition as well, finding she can now “see out more into the world the troubles that each religion is facing”. Upon visiting a Jewish House of Worship, the Adath Israel Synagogue, Katie, a rising seventh grader from Wyoming, discovered a significant similarity between the Jewish service and her own faith community “in that they teach you to be nice to one another and make the world a better place”.
However, being nice was put to the test as the campers formed a Human Knot- an activity in which campers stand in a circle and join hands until a monstrous lump of intertwined limbs remains. The challenge: become unraveled. As one can likely guess and as Lourdes, a rising seventh grader from Cincinnati, can confirm, everyone was “laughing all about it while they were stuck”. Lourdes found the moments of laughter to be quite meaningful- “At least we were laughing!” However, between the laughing and the “relief of finishing it and successfully getting untangled” lies quite a bit of hard work and communication. Kai, a rising eighth grader from Cincinnati, actually relished the teamwork, and seeing that “everybody was working together” was his favorite thing about the activity.
That teamwork led to the formation of trust in the community: Lourdes had to “trust that they care about me being stuck like they do”, Kai still had to trust that they would eventually be untangled “even though they realized they had an impossible knot.” A little trust goes a long way. Especially for Noura, to whom her fellow campers “are very important”. She trusts them, for “they treat her like family”. This being her second year in the program, returning to camp felt like “oh, we’re back home”. And for Noura, who has experienced discrimination at school, and many others, a loving community helps with facing the world each day.
Luckily, these campers seem ready to lead change in their many communities following camp. Jocelyn was inspired by learning some of Jesus’ Parables from the Christian faith. Particularly, the stories of the mustard seed and Good Samaritan have helped her to realize she “can help anybody no matter what the cause and no matter how small of an idea I have, I can grow it into a larger one.” Being the only Jewish person at her school, she seeks to “share and teach people about her own faith,” much like the mustard seed.
Isaac, a rising seventh grader from Milford, feels prepared to create change after learning more about Islam. Gaining more knowledge “makes him more aware of what they do, so that I can become a better friend to those who have been bullied”. He also seeks to bring peace by following the commandments of Judaism such as “giving tzedaka to the poor, treating your neighbor with respect, and loving all creatures”.
Wali feels empowered as a part of the Kids4Peace community, believing “it’s really great that kids do” the program, for “adults don’t always want to stray away from” the engrained intolerance passed down through generations. “But kids, they usually have a more open mind.”
These campers are already fulfilling the goal as described by Judy Chamberlain: “to build peace, one person at a time.”
Contributors: Isaac (7th grade, Milford), Jack (8th grade, Cincinnati), Jocelyn (7th grade, Wilmington), Kai (8th grade, Cincinnati), Katie (7th grade, Wyoming), Lourdes (7th grade, Cincinnati), Noura (8th grade, Cincinnati)
Written by: Emily Combs, US Media Coordinator