Archives For Boston

Grateful in Boston

merk4p —  August 9, 2015 — Leave a comment

11705351_10153388588706066_409844973172011895_n 11056538_10153388589361066_2616636572817550678_nWe 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.”

11825231_10153388589456066_5845899781457608900_n“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!

by Matt Loper, Kids4Peace Boston Director

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.11836725_10153388589886066_5879165978718833164_n

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.11822822_10153388590251066_6323094357021691123_n

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.


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The Great Hike

merk4p —  August 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Matt Loper, Kids4Peace Boston Director

Yesterday was such a full day that we all had no choice but to fall asleep early and catch up on some much needed ZzzZZzzzz’s.  Our legs were happy for this extra rest since they did the hard work of hiking us all the way to the top of Mount Canaan.

Yesterday was our big hike day! One of the Kids4Peace traditions is to look only at the ground as you make those final steps to the top of the mountain.  Everyone silently shuffles up together, looking only down, and then on the count of three the whole group, together, turns around for the breath-taking view.

Lots of us were nervous about the hike beforehand (for some, this was the first time ever hiking such a big mountain), but we went at a pace we could all handle.  Even though it was challenging at times, we encouraged each other, and we all high-fived at the top; each of us so personally proud to have accomplished this feat.

At the top of the mountain, we played some games, including “Interfaith Bingo”.  Many of us even got BINGO!…especially after learning so much about each other’s religions this past weekend.

After the trek back down to our cabin, we couldn’t wait to dive into the lake and wash away the grime of the mountain.  We splashed around, took out the paddle boards, and practiced our diving skills off the dock.

Eva and Jeanie (our awesome Merrowvista leaders) gathered us back on the shore and gave us quite a challenge.  We took turns telling the story of Noah and the Flood as it is in the Qu’ran, Bible, and Torah.  Imagine our surprise that all three of these religions have this story!  Little did we know that we, too, would be building an Ark!  Sure, there was no flood, but it was quite a challenge still…the leaders blindfolded half of us!

This was a big test of our communication skills, but it looks like we’re getting better and better at being able to respectfully communicate with one another while still accomplishing tasks.

A thunderstorm rolled into camp after we finished dinner, but if you were here, you wouldn’t have even noticed.  Another thunderstorm of dance and song was happening in the dishroom where the Kids4Peace boys had their turn of doing the dishes for the entire community of 200 people.

11828665_10153384112531066_970491288710302341_n 11800021_10153384113036066_6572390341181521497_n 11800143_10153384113401066_4180991047389482605_n

11039296_10153390728586066_6743036740332181810_n  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.11217538_10153390728666066_3299872787742701024_n

 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?

That’s the life of a Kids4Peace kid.  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.

by Matt Loper, Kids4Peace Boston Director

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.

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!)


by Matt Loper, Kids4Peace Boston Director

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!

Click here to check out some pictures through the eyes of our youth! 11781600_10153381729626066_2433120783491597136_n11836796_10153381729006066_1238177170218953057_n11800328_10153381728821066_1405413446110168661_n11752579_10153381730336066_8732783748485630704_n

by Matt Loper, Kids4Peace Boston Director

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’umah 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, who cooked us Ugandan-style chicken.

11817068_10153377864226066_4710087770573899791_nIn 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.

Check out the Day 2 Full Album here!

First day in Boston!

merk4p —  July 30, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Matt Loper, Kids4Peace Boston Director

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.

Then we had a 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: Kids4Peace Boston – Day 1 Album!


Kids4Peace Boston participants take a break from preparing their meal.

By Matt Loper, Executive Director of Kids4Peace Boston, and Jordan Goldwarg, Northwest Regional Director of Kids4Peace International

On Sunday, December 14th, while some of the youth from Kids4Peace Seattle were at an Albertsons supermarket in Seattle, collecting donated food items to benefit Northwest Harvest (Washington State’s largest hunger relief agency), Kids4Peace participants in Boston were at the very same time cooking donated food into a delicious meal to be served at the First Church in Cambridge Men’s Shelter.

Six of Boston’s year round participants cooked up a Brown Rice and Turkey Casserole and chopped tons of pineapples, mangos, cucumbers, carrots, and mint for a colorful and tasty Mexican Fruit and Vegetable Salad.  They served it to the 14 residents of the Men’s Shelter who shared their gratitude for a warm meal on a cold Boston night.  The Kids4Peace participants had the opportunity to meet the shelter’s guests, learn about current issues related to homelessness in Boston, and tour the facilities. As the group did the dishes and cleaned up from a fast paced preparation, they spoke about homelessness within the Kids4Peace Boston community and ways in which they, as teen Peace Leaders, can make a difference.

Meanwhile, 2500 miles away, Kids4Peace Seattle participants, counselors, and adult volunteers were asking supermarket shoppers to make an extra purchase of food and baby supplies to donate to Northwest Harvest during the holiday season. In a little over two hours, the group collected enough items to completely fill up the trunk and back seat of a car (requiring a little engineering to figure out how to make it all fit!). As Kids4Peace Seattle continues its year-long exploration of food justice, the group also had time to talk about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of donations, and to discuss ways of making sure that all people in our community have enough to eat.

In both Boston and Seattle, our youth did an amazing job showing what it means to give back to our communities!


Kids4Peace Seattle shows off all the food they collected.

I think being in K4P shows that just because we have different identities doesn’t mean we can’t be and live together and have lots of fun. And it is important to prove that to other people so they see that it is possible and actually not difficult at all! –Elianna

To be in K4P is a great opportunity to meet new people from all countries and nations and it’s a way to start peace and also end war and is special for me that I am in K4P that I get a chance to express my thoughts, feelings and myself and also to not use violence or curse people. I want to get from K4P to is peace and no violence. – Lutfi

It means to me that I can make a peace around the world. I am going to bring home the no ort rule. That will help bring peace because less people will waste food and the world will be a better place. – Mahmoud

What I will take from MV to home is the feeling that no matter which religion you are that everyone is equal, no matter how you look or what is your height. To do a friendship bracelet for a Muslim girl, talk and laugh with her while at home people fight and die. To watch a Sunday service of a Muslim prayer, ask questions and learn. – Ayala

To be a peacemaker is to hold our hands together, and to help each other not killing each other, to treat each other as humans. Peace making is when you share your love of the difference between religion, ethnicity, race for the world and try to make them similar so that they would join in their love. Being part of Kids4Peace is something I am very grateful for, thinking that I could be part of something big in the future and make a difference what would affect the whole world. I am going to take every little memory of the fun, amazing camp and all the things that I learned that would help me be a peace maker I would always keep all these things in my heart to remember – Salma

I will take home all of the things I’ve learned over the past 10 days, all of the memories, and friendships I have made here. I come to Kids4Peace because the life better and more peace. And who make this peace is us. Then they will call us peace maker. What I will take from K4P back home is the feeling that everyone is equal, no matter how you look or which religion you come from. I came to Kids4Peace to try and understand the difference viewpoints that each kid has. Some people don’t understand that someone with a different opinion then you can be right without making you wrong and also to teach people that you won’t be able to make peace with others unless you can make peace with yourself. When I say make peace with yourself I mean if you are constantly putting yourself down because of the way you look, act, or how you feel, it will hurt to be yourself, and if you can’t who you are, how can you help others know the real them? –Elianna

Being a peacemaker at K4P means to me that I can make a difference, that we kids can change the world and one little movement can make a huge difference. I want to bring home my peacemaking skills because if you can’t be/make/have peace in your own home, you can’t be peaceful/a peacemaker in the world. – Thea

It means to be a part of K4P is amazing and an awesome opportunity because we learn other people’s religions and difference beliefs getting along. – Abdul

Peace maker means to me beautiful life, a lot of fun and happiness! – Bashar

To be part of Kids4Peace means being the start of something big, the start of a real change. But being part of Kids4Peace also means that you are willing to fight, peacefully, for the things you need to start the change. I believe that Kids4Peace is one of the many sparks that will hopefully, in time, become a peaceful fire that spreads like in the song. What I want to take home from Kids4Peace is the hope that peace is coming and some ways that our hop can become a reality. – Nellie

To be a peace-maker, for me, is to solve my problems and arguments without force or violence (verbal or physical) and with no judgment and a positive attitude and to pass this idea on to others. What I want to take from Kids4Peace is the ability to see other perspectives and viewpoints. I learned how to connect with others that are different from me and how to accept these differences. – Becca

Being a part of K4P means to me that we are going to come here to make friends outside of our respective bubbles and take that out to the world. We also take the lessons we learned on into the world. Not only will I remember the people I met in K4P but also the people at Merrowvista. These people all have something I don’t so I will learn from them and take it with me so that I can become a better person. – Buyya

K4P means to be peaceful and a peacemaker, but sometimes it feels like to me separating because you always separate us into groups. The same groups every time, and I don’t get the chance to meet more people! But when I told them about it, it got much better. I want to take the love, dancing, singing and doing activities together to Jerusalem. And I want to bring the fun and the talking from Jerusalem. –Mira