Archives For New Hampshire

Blog Post for Vermont/New Hampshire Chapter, by Nancy Stone. Photos by Nancy Stone

Our Spring over-night retreat took place April 16-17 at sisters Lola and Zelda’s spacious home in New Hampshire with 15 alumni and adults attending.  Our first activity was lessons in Arabic. Then, divided into two groups, we were told to create skits using only Arabic, adding new vocabulary as needed.  One teen remarked, “That wasn’t super hard!”  Someone else commented, “It felt good to be a little part of your culture.”  Shukran, Abeer and Lana.

The unusually warm evening found us walking through a covered bridge leading to a pizza place.  After supper on the deck beside the Contoocook River, we returned home for popcorn and the animated movie “Inside Out”, which is a fun but richly layered exploration of personality, memory and emotions. Our follow-up discussions asked: Which emotions do you feel most often?  What are your core memories?  Which emotions do you think our society values over others?  The adult staff participated by drawing a map of their own “islands of personality.”

After breakfast the next day, we lined up single-file for a silent meditation walk down the quiet street, with a focus on our breath and steps rather than the environment.  This led to sharing time about how to use this skill to calm and focus in daily life.

Art teachers Jill and Nancy then taught everyone how to make their own musical flutes called, ocarina, from kits ordered on-line.  The pre-cut wooden sections were like a puzzle needing to be carefully pieced and glued together; cooperation was often sought from a neighboring crafter.  Once the four-hole instruments were completed, everyone gathered outside to practice songs.  The activity became a metaphor for the peace-making process that leads to making beautiful music together.

Being a peacemaker

merk4p —  August 20, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Selina, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

8-20-15 (F)The morning started off with mindfulness, a chance to “open your heart” as Itai, a Jewish camper from Jerusalem put it. The group practiced paying attention to their breath, inaudibly counting each intake and release, staying still and silent for a whole five minutes.

Transitioning over to dialogue, four adults performed a skit with a lot of mean bullying and hurt feelings. Sarah and Cata ganged up on Julia, making fun of her hair and friendship bracelets, Julia started crying and Chelsea stepped in to ease the conflict.

After watching the pretend kerfuffle, kids picked which role they would most like to have in real life. Most flocked to Chelsea. Romi, a Jewish camper from Jerusalem, talked about how difficult it can be in the peacemaker’s shoes: “It’s very hard to do what Chelsea did. It’s hard to be the only one trying to stop it. Catie, an American, Christian camper added that: “It takes a lot of courage to stand up for somebody.”

After talking about being the one to step in and intervene, Sarah asked the group a couple of good but hard questions: “How does the buddy feel? What do they need?” Kids brainstormed a ton of different possibilities. They thought maybe it had to with getting attention, wanting to feel good but really feeling insecure, having experienced violence in their own lives and bringing into their interactions with other people, jealousy, boredom, and much more. Whether conscious of it or not, the group collectively showed empathy, understanding and thinking about what it might be like for both the bully and their target.

8-20-15 (J)In the next exercise, the kids divided up into two long lines. In the fictitious scenario, line A, while strolling along, finds line B kicking a grandma! It was up to the kids to decide what to do and how to do it. Some blocked and protected the imaginary grandmas with their bodies, others tried saying stop and talking, while tried moving the bully out of the way.

After switching roles, kids discussed what was like when they were able to help out effectively. One Jerusalem, Christian camper, Karl said: “I felt like superman!” Zelda, who is Jewish and from the US, “felt powerful”.

Using non-violent strategies, asking good questions and figuring out what is going on can be scary, counterintuitive, and hard. That said, when we see people being bullied, if we have the courage to help, we can make a huge difference. We can ask “what’s wrong, how can I help you, what are you angry about? Responding peacefully is a good option, but one that takes practice and courage.

A special guest, New Hampshire Congresswoman, Ann Kuster, spent the morning hearing about Kids4Peace, sharing stories and meeting with staff and kids. It was wonderful to hear her talk about how she uses the same, open minded approach that Kids4Peace tries to cultivate, while working with Representatives with all sorts of different world views.

8-20-15 (I)She also shared about how great it is to see kids connect on an unconscious, visceral level, overcoming differences through shared experiences without even realizing that close friendships are being formed. With only time for a short visit, it was sad to see her go so soon!

The after lunch hours flew by swimming in the lake, making masks, playing soccer, and doing acro-yoga. Before anybody knew it, the time had come for the evening talent show! Fantastic MC’s guided the evening, calling up one great act after another. The celebration continued from individual skits, dances and songs, to one big dance party with songs in different languages, both familiar and new blasting through the space.

Even those campers, who were at first glued to their seats, couldn’t resist for long the temptation to join in. Spirits high, kids walked back their cabins begging for more.

Crossing the line

merk4p —  August 19, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Selina, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

8-19-15 (P)A puzzling picture was presented to the kids when they arrived at dialogue. Some saw an elderly woman, while others found a young woman’s face. After some discussion and lots of explaining, most people were able to see both, but then had the confusing experience of switching back and forth. As a whole group the kids talked about how oftentimes we only see things from one perspective, but if we’re open to looking, we can see something completely different. This talk led into a game. A rope was laid down the middle of the room and the kids were split into two groups. Each group was separately given the same objective: to get all the members of the other group to their side of the rope. Language was intentionally left neutral, winning/losing, your team/their team, etc. was never mentioned.

Kids used different strategies to try and accomplish what they were told to do. Some thought of a good solution but didn’t know how to involve others. Some tried to create a really attractive environment with fun games on their side, so kids from the other side would be excited to join them. Others pleaded, begged, bribed or tried coercing the other kids across. Some tried negotiation and explaining. After about 20 minutes, they all came to the agreement to stand on the centerline, with one foot on each side.

In the debrief, kids reflected on the experience. Alexxa, a Christian camper from the US, noted that: “People are thinking about just their goal, without thinking about both groups”. Joseph, a Christian, Jerusalem camper had a related thought: “Nobody thinks about the middle ground”.

Most kids realized that they had been thinking in terms of winning and losing, and assuming that the first side with all the people would win. When asked to explain the purpose of the game, many of them all had good ideas. One said it was to “learn listening” another mentioned “empathy” another wanted to emphasize “seeing things from different perspectives” and another talked about “working together”. They were able see how all these skills fit together to in order to cooperate.

After working hard in dialogue, the kids once again went off to practice and develop their Abraham tent skits.

8-19-15 (C)Down at the waterfront, after lunch, pairs of kids swam around, jumped off the dock, chatted, laughed and splashed. The same afternoon rotations of mask making, sports and games/acro-yoga took place before dinner. At that meal, the much anticipated clean cabin award was presented. Spaces were judged on their cleanliness, as well as the feel and how welcoming they were. One of boys’ cabins had cleaned everything, even the porch, and was thrilled to take home the prize!

The evening was relaxing, watching a movie, Remember the Titans, and drawing backdrops for the Abraham tent play. Cleaning up spilled popcorn after the movie, kids worked together, pausing on the way back to their cabin to admire the stars.

Word of the day: Empathy

merk4p —  August 18, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Selina, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 8.46.48 AM8-18-15 (E)
The word of the day was empathizing, which one Muslim camper from Jerusalem, Qais, defined as “feeling somebody else’s pain”. Sarah, who was leading the discussion talked about how when we show empathy, we support the other person.

The kids then split into groups, writing down stories about something that had happened to them. Stories were randomly drawn out and read, followed by everybody else finding good language with which to empathize. One Jewish camper from the US, Isa, felt moved by one story: “I’m really sorry for whoever that happened to, because that sounds terrible.” After dialogue, Abraham tent groups met to start figuring out their skits for Sunday’s big show!

The afternoon was split between swim test and three rotations. Groups either made plaster masks, played sports, or did group games/acro-yoga. For two hours after dinner, preparations were hurriedly made for the upcoming talent show! Cartwheels were practiced, songs were rehearsed, dances were taught and many surprises were devised. The rhythm of camp life is definitely setting in.

8-18-15 (D)

Reaching new heights

merk4p —  August 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Selina, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

8-17-15 (H)Mixing things up a bit, Monday was ropes course day! After a few big activities with everyone, the campers went into smaller groups to play cooperative games and meet their ropes course facilitators.

Eventually everyone headed off to the woods, working with the low ropes, logs, swings, and platforms. At lunch Talia, a Muslim camper from Jerusalem, reported her experience: “When I first went on the rope I felt like I was in a video, I felt like I was flying!” She also shared her thoughts on what the afternoon with the high ropes would be like: “I’m afraid of heights so I’m a little nervous. But I also like adventures! This will be my adventure.”

Sure enough, everybody’s toes where high in air that afternoon. Kids perched on top of log, called the catwalk, strolled across a bridge made of just a single wire, clambered up a climbing wall, and scrambled up a vertical playground of obstacles. On the walk back to the cabins, another Muslim Jerusalem camper, Mona, shared her experience. “It was fun! I was a little nervous but then it turned out to be so easy!”

After dinner, campers crowded around a new project, writing appreciation and encouragement cards for their friends. As notes were written and delivered, kids shyly peeked into their bags, seeing if anybody had left them a little something and having a hard time resisting the temptation to read them. Nancy, the art teacher, made it very clear that notes can only be read on the way home. It’s going to be hard to wait.

The evening consisted of a huge soccer game, with almost everybody playing, topped off with a good old campfire, songs and s’mores. Even though everyone was tired, it was hard to tear them away from the fire and fun and take them to bed. It’s only been a day, but this new site is already feeling like home.

8-17-15 (G) 8-17-15 (F)

by Selina, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

8-16-15 (A)The day started early, finishing up packing before breakfast and getting dressed for church. It was a struggle to get all the luggage packed into the bus, but somehow everybody and everything made it in time to the Cathedral.

Bishop Tom, a well-known face from the previous days and the ice cream social, preached, giving special attention to Kids4Peace. Christian campers were able to participate in the service, lecturing and alter serving. During the homily, the entire group performed the Kids4Peace chant as well as taught the congregation a song called Peace, Salaam, Shalom.

Afterwards, the Bishop answered questions about the church, his vestments, and Christianity as well as demonstrated the rather complicated way of putting on his hat. When he finished, there was a line nearly out the door to try it on!

8-16-15 (C)After that, it was back on the bus for a short ride to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory! Two tour groups made up of campers and staff, marveled at the big machinery and sampled a delicious cup of caramel swirl chip in the flavor room. Respects were paid at the Flavor Graveyard, mourning the loss of some delectable blends.

The next several hours were spent on the bus. Tired, hot and full of people, it was ride that tested everyone’s tenacity and tolerance. It took a bit longer than expected, but everyone arrived safety to New Hampshire. After a good dinner, the kids settled into their cabins for the night, eager to see their new surroundings in the daylight.8-16-15 (B)8-16-15 (G)

Finding a group rhythm

merk4p —  August 15, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Selina, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

8-15-15 (A)Knowing how to ask for a translation is one thing, but getting someone to listen to you in something else entirely. Without listening, there is no way to hold attention or communicate ideas. With three languages, the voices of thirty kids, and hundreds of ideas, it’s a big jumble and there’s no way to untangle it.

In dialogue, campers practiced their listening, walking around, following each other, asking for other kids to give them attention, and feeling what it’s like to be ignored. They reflected on the experience and how to actively listen, even if they can’t understand.

The afternoon involved their first swim, in the beautiful waters of Lake Champlain, and a much-anticipated ice cream social. Supporters, alumni and families of Kids4Peace all gathered, listening to the Founder, the Bishop of Vermont, and the Board President as they shared remarks, before eagerly digging into five different flavors of Ben & Jerry’s euphoric ice cream.

In the evening, the kids had some free time to play and pack for the big move to New Hampshire. Maybe it was the listening work in the morning, maybe it was having spent a couple of days together, or maybe it was the magic of Ben and Jerry’s, but there was a palpable shift in the group dynamic. Games started and ended without any difficulty, groups grew, shrunk and shifted without anyone feeling left out, and invitations to play were extended. It was as if the jumble of crossed communication had eased, and a group rhythm was found.8-15-15 (D)

Eat. Play. Laugh.

merk4p —  August 13, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Selina Petschek, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

8-12-15 (F) 8-12-15 (E)Early risers flooded the hallways of Rock Point School well before breakfast. Jerusalem campers, adjusting to the time change were eager to get going, tired of the monotony of travel and waiting for camp to finally start.

When breakfast was at last called, all the campers, with some reluctance, found their way to their peace groups, meeting kids from different faiths and parts of the world. They shared breakfast, exchanging a few words and starting to learn each other’s names.

By lunchtime, they had danced around together, devised special handshakes, played soccer, established a camp covenant, and played numerous name games. Needless to say, the midday meal was much more lively than the previous one as kids started to find things in common, comparing what they like to do, talking about their families, and enjoying the same delicious food.

During art class, they were once again in their peace groups, sharing supplies and ideas of how to decorate their appreciation bags, journaling kits and treasure boxes.

Dinner, the final meal of the day, was by that point routine. They knew where to sit, how to be quiet enough to be called up for food, and where to go to find what they needed. Instead of strangers, they sat with friends. People they had a shared a whole day of experiences with and could count on to be there alongside of them. In just one day, thirty new faces had become familiar.

by Selina, K4P NH/VT Media Coordinator

8-11-15 (B)It was another full day of working to prepare for the campers who arrive tomorrow!

The Jerusalem kids have already begun their long trip to Vermont. After spending the morning discussing details and learning Kids4Peace songs, the afternoon was happily spent getting ready for the official arrival of the campers.

Jeff, our camp director, reminded us to enjoy the work, not pushing through it in order to start life after our work is finished, but rather to recognize work as life, and savor the experiences of working as much as the resting.

In the evening, over ice cream and peach cobbler, we discussed this value as well as what it means to really, truly put yourself in another’s shoes, and have empathy for another person. Coupled with this was how to find time, in our own lives, to slow down, think, and make careful choices about what we do and how we interact with the people around us. One quote, from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, rang true for many of us: “Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.”

Omar, one of the camp counselors talked about these principles in terms of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. He said that: “Back home, people don’t necessarily think in terms of empathy. Years and generations have passed but it is very rare to, as a Palestinian to put yourself in the shoes of an Israeli, or as an Israeli, put yourself in the shoes of a Palestinian and really understand that world and that perspective.”

“The Chances for Israeli/Palestinian Peace Post Israeli Election” w/ Dr. Gershon Baskin

Sunday, April 26, 5pm in Portsmouth, NH
Admission: Free, however, please register if you plan to attend.
Register here: http://www.3sarts.org/performances/performance/Israeli-Palestinian-Peace-Discussion-w–Dr.-Gershon-Baskin?performanceid=960

Baskin

On Sunday, April 26 at 5 p.m., Dr. Gershon Baskin, renowned peace activist, journalist and author, will be speaking at an event co-presented by 3S Artspaces, The World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, and Kids4Peace, an organization that brings together youth from Israel/Palestine and the United States with the goal of building bridges among Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Dr Baskin has been actively involved in the peace movement for many years and is currently a member of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum. He has written widely on the peace process and has won a number of international awards for his efforts. Dr Baskin has been a columnist for the The Jerusalem Post since 2005 and continues to travel tirelessly to promote peace in the region. He was personally responsible for the successful negotiations with Hamas that led to the release of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit.

In his talk at 3S, Dr Baskin will explore the question of whether a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis is still possible in light of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent re-election. He will also discuss Palestinian international diplomatic strategy and international pressures facing Israel. In addition, he will address US/Israeli relations and the role of American Jewry both in US and Israeli politics.       Dr. Baskin’s speech will be followed by a Q& session.