Archives For Chapters

by Jordan Goldwarg, Kids4Peace Seattle Chapter Director

Many people know that Kids4Peace operates in North America and Jerusalem, but did you know that we also have a chapter in France? Since 2014, a team of dedicated volunteers has been building a presence in Lyon, and on March 16-18, I had the privilege of joining them for a weekend of visioning, training, and planning.

As with everywhere we operate, the need for our programs is great in France. The global migration crisis has provoked an Islamophobic backlash against the many migrants and refugees who have arrived in France seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, there has been a significant increase in Anti-Semitism that has been frightening enough to cause many Jews to leave France. Against this backdrop of religious discrimination, France also struggles with many of the challenges that face other countries, such as racism and economic inequality.
Kids4Peace France (or Copains pour la Paix) has been working to change all of this. Through partnerships with a local synagogue (Keren Or), mosque (Mosquee Othman), and church (Paroisse de la Nativite), they have been bringing together youth every month to learn about each other’s religion, to promote understanding, and to foster dialogue.

20180318_143425

Members of the K4P France team at weekend retreat outside Lyon with Paroisse de la Nativite

Over the course of our weekend together, we attended worship at all three partner congregations. In between, we spent time as a team looking back at what K4P France has accomplished since its founding; created a 1- and 3-year vision for where the chapter wants to go; and also had fun through some of the games and activities that we use with our kids when we meet.
20180317_151457

Members of the team working on 1- and 3-year visions

Many thanks to John and Brigitte McGregor, along with the whole K4P France team, for hosting this weekend, and for their unwavering commitment to improving the lives of youth in Lyon! Below, you can find a transcription of remarks that I shared during our visits to the partner congregations.

Merci beaucoup pour accueil chaleureux ! Je m’appelle Jordan Goldwarg, et je suis le Directeur de Développement des Nouvelles Branches pour Kids4Peace International. Je travaille à Seattle, sur la côte ouest des États-Unis, et c’est vraiment un honneur d’être ici ce Week-End pour travailler avec notre équipe de Kids4Peace France, ou comme on dit des fois, les Copains pour la Paix. 

Je me considère comme éducateur, et dans le passé, je me disais souvent que mon travail a pour but de préparer les leaders de demain. Puis, un jour, une de nos jeunes qui fait partie de Kids4Peace à Seattle, m’a dit: ‘Jordan, je ne sais pas pourquoi tu dis toujours que nous sommes les leaders de demain. Nous sommes déjà des leaders aujourd’hui!’

Et, bien sûr, elle avait raison. Cette réalité a été illustré nettement aux États-Unis au course du dernier mois. Le 14 février, nous avons souffert une autre tragédie horrible quand un adolescent a tué dix-sept étudiants et professeurs dans  une école secondaire en Floride. Cet événement a été tellement affreux, effrayant et atroce, que dans les semaines depuis le massacre, ça continue d’être vraiment interessant de voir le leadership des adolescents et leur réponse à l’événement. Ils commencent à forcer un changement dans les lois et la culture des  États-Unis au sujet des fusils. La semaine passée, le congrès de l’état de Floride a passé de nouvelles lois pour réglementer les fusils, et ils ont fait ça même avec une opposition féroce de la part de groupes de pression très puissants. Ces nouvelles lois ne seraient pas possibles sans le travail et l’influence des adolescents. Je répète: ces nouvelles lois ne seraient pas possibles sans le travail et l’influence des adolescents.

À Kids4Peace, notre mission est de supporter des leaders jeunes dans leur travail de réparer les problèmes qui causent la violence et les divisions dans nos sociétés. Nous sommes une mouvement global, travaillant avec des adolescents de 12-18 ans qui sont  juifs, chrétiens et musulmans, en Amérique du Nord, a Jérusalem, et en France. Les participants se réunissent régulièrement pendant l’année scolaire, et ils participent aussi dans des programmes plus longs pendant l’été. Tous nos programmes ont comme but l’éducation interreligieuse, la formation de compétences en dialogue et leadership, et la formation de communauté, dans le but de créer un  changement social positif dans nos communautés.

A un moment où tellement de gens autour du monde utilisent la religion comme une force pour diviser les gens, nous cherchons les valeurs et mérites partagés dans la religion qui favorisent l’empathie, l’acceptation, et le respect. Quand on réunit les adolescents dans une communauté favorable avec ces valeurs partagés, et quand on soutien le développement de ces compétences de leadership, les résultats sont motivant .

Prenons l’exemple de Lia, une fille juive de 16 ans qui fait partie de Kids4Peace Seattle. Pendant une époque quand plusieurs groupes de personnes aux États-Unis, en particulier les minorités et  les immigrants, subissent la violence aux mains de la police, Lia a passé beaucoup de temps l’automne passé en s’engageant comme bénévole pour une campagne dans notre état pour essayer de changer cela . Cette campagne a pour but d’exiger que la police dans l’état de Washington prenne  des cours pour diminuer le conflit, et par ce moyen, de réduire la nécessité d’utiliser leurs pistolets contre les citoyens. Après avoir ramassé des signatures pour des pétitions, après avoir parlé avec ses amis, et après avoir amplifié son message par les médias sociaux comme Facebook et Instagram, Lia a écrit le suivant: ‘À l’âge de 16 ans, même si nous ne pouvons pas voter, nous pensons que c’est très important que nous soyons    conscients de la justice sociale. La violence de la police est injuste et ça nous concerne tous. Nous, en Kids4Peace, avons une obligation de réparer les choses qui sont déchirées dans notre société.’ Et je suis vraiment fier d’annoncer que cette campagne a été acceptée par le congrès dans notre état la semaine passée et c’est maintenant une loi.

Je peux vous donner aussi une exemple de notre branche à Jérusalem. Dans la ville de Jérusalem, malgré le fait qu’un tiers de la population parle l’Arabe comme langue maternelle, les cinémas ne montrent que des films avec sous titres en Hébreu. Nos jeunes travaillent dans une campagne avec la municipalité de Jérusalem et les cinémas pour ajouter de sous titres en Arabe pour les films. Cela peut paraître comme une changement petit, mais ça va avoir un impact énorme en augmenter la visibilité de la population Palestinienne. De plus, ça va rendre les cinémas, des espaces partagés, ou les Israéliens et le Palestiniens peuvent se rencontrer pour des expériences en commun, quelque chose qui est vraiment rare dans une ville très séparée.

Et ici à Lyon, Kids4Peace, ou Copains pour la Paix, travaille depuis plus de trois ans pour construir des liens entre communautés diverses. Dans un moment où la tension religieuse a augmenté beaucoup dans plusieurs parties d’Europe, Kids4Peace travaille sans cesse avec les jeunes à Villeurbane et dans d’autres parties de Lyon pour montrer qu’en réalité, nous sommes plus forts ensemble. Nous avons aussi créé un partenariat avec les Scouts et Guides de France, et avec plusieurs mosquées, églises, et synagogues pour faire des programmes avec davantage d’enfants.

Pendant que nous continuons de construire ce mouvement global, ici à Lyon et  ailleurs , nous vous invitons de nous rejoindre. Ensemble, nous pouvons répondre au menace de fondamentalisme de toute sorte en promouvant l’acceptation et l’empathie, et en montrant que la religion est une force positive dans la société. Racontez à vos amis ce que vous avez entendu ici aujourd’hui. Portez-vous  volontaire avec Kids4Peace. Si vous avez des enfants proches de vous, encouragez-les de se joindre à notre travail. Ensemble, nous pouvons construire une mouvement d’espoir et une mouvement pour la paix.

Plusieurs gens me demandent ce qui me donne de l’espoir pendant une époque de peur, violence, et division. Ma réponse est simple: Je prends de l’espoir en voyant des leaders jeunes qui recherchent la différence, qui promeuvent la paix, et qui ont un désir pour la compréhension mutuelle. Merci à vous tous de  nous aider à diffuser ce message d’espoir.

by Sara McArdle, Kids4Peace Seattle Chapter Board Chair

On Friday, January 26, I had the pleasure of hosting my second-ever “Dialogue Dinner” in support of Kids4Peace Seattle. As a board member, one of the things that we’re invited to do (and I happily oblige!) is host an intimate fund- and/or awareness-raising event for our communities once every couple of years.

This time, eight of us gathered around two big tables in the community room at my complex in North Seattle and shared a deep, meaningful discussion about the issues that are most important to each of us. The group consisted of Muslim, Jewish, Christian and non-religious friends of mine who care deeply about the future of our nation and our youth. Most of my guests did not know each other before getting together that night.

As a special treat, I ordered a cornucopia of delights from Gorgeous George’s Mediterranean Kitchen, owned and operated by Kids4Peace friends and Jerusalem natives, George Rashed and Rula Saleh. We feasted on mouth-watering tabouli, falafal, salad, pita, hummus, babaghanouje, dolmas, makdous, grilled vegetables, salmon and chicken.

We spent the first half an hour mingling and getting to know each other a bit. Then, we sat down to eat and pondered some big questions. We gave each person around the table the space and close attention to articulate what was on their hearts and minds, without interruption.

The gist of the questions I posed to the group were: 1) With all that’s currently going on in our country and the world, how do you choose which of the numerous, deserving causes/events/activities to give your time, energy and attention to? 2) What kinds of things do you do to take good care of yourself and make sure you’re saying “no” to the things that are lower priority for you? and 3) How do you handle conversations with loved ones who see issues differently than you do? (Or, do you even get into it?) The conversation was rich and varied, and I left with some new ideas and inspiration.

K4P Dialogue Dinner at Saras 2018

Guests enjoying delicious food and rich conversation.

 

After we talked for about an hour and a half, I shared how these concepts relate to the work of Kids4Peace; in our community, we get together and regularly ask big questions about what we want to do to make a difference in our communities, how we can support each other and how we can care for ourselves in the process. Then, we take action.

So, I took action by inviting this little community of mine to give to Kids4Peace Seattle so that we can make a real difference in the issues that so many of my community care deeply about, like youth, equity and anti-oppression, nonviolence, living in greater harmony with each other and our planet, etc.

In addition to their financial generosity, I was delighted to see some of my guests exchanging contact information and brainstorming how they might collaborate together in the future on their overlapping projects and visions. These kinds of exchanges are exactly why dialogue dinners can be so powerful!

One meaningful piece of feedback I received was, “I am so nourished by the care and thought you put into whom to invite, what to eat and what questions to ask. I loved meeting such a mix of people, and really liked getting to respond to those questions.”

I highly recommend hosting a dialogue dinner for any cause you care about! (No need to ask for money, either, if that’s not a fit for you.) In a society that’s constantly busy, on the go and multi-tasking, it feels like a real treat to sit across the table from one another and be heard for what moves us deeply, as individuals.

 

On January 14th, 80 youth from the greater Seattle area gathered for a workshop called “Make Your Voice Heard”.  It was the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, drawing inspiration from King to empower youth to speak up about issues they care about.

The first part of the event was an opportunity for participants to hear from three different speakers. Max Patashnik who is the Government Affairs and Community Relations Senior Manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle did a presentation on Judaism and Antisemitism. Jasmin Samy is the Civil Rights Director at CAIR-Washington State and she did a presentation on Islam and Islamophobia. Finally, Essam Muhammad who is a local Spoken Word Artist and Poet, and is active in the South Seattle community, performed a spoken word piece for all in attendance. This was a way to get the participants thinking about issues in the world and lead them into their breakout session. As participant Maryam said, “We may not realize it but discrimination and hate happens all around us”.

DSC_0099

In the second part of the workshop, youth had the opportunity to participate in one of four breakout sessions. The sessions were News Media, Talking About Issues You Care About, Film, and Spoken Word. Each session gave the youth a different perspective on voicing their opinions and speaking up for what they believe in. The tools that they were given could help them speak up against Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other issues they care about.

We heard from two participants of the Spoken Word breakout session, and they were certainly inspired. “Poetry is a way to express yourself, and it seems like something I can do after school” said Maeve. Elizabeth said “I liked the free writing, and I want to tell my friends about this”.

20180114_143101

DA8A2502

Throughout the event, participants met back at their table groups to discuss what they were finding. They talked about what this experience meant to them, Nathan said “Through the learning, I feel empowered”. To him, this event was not only about speaking up, it was about learning about other people’s view of the world. Habiba said “We should all use our voice because it is a privilege, we should use it before it’s taken away. We need to use it for ourselves, and those who don’t have a voice”. Going along with speaking up for others, Mariam said “In the world we tend to only stand up for ourselves and our friends, but we should stand up for everyone”.

To finish off the workshop, we had participants further their call to action by writing down what they want to use their voice for. It was a way to remind participants that this workshop gave them tools, but they are the real voice of change in their communities.

Untitled design

Click here to find lots more photos from our event in our Facebook Album!

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

by Jordan Goldwarg, Kids4Peace Director of Chapter Development

On Saturday, October 28, a group of friends gathered in a home in Seattle for dinner. They came together for a facilitated discussion about this question: What is one thing that is frustrating you right now about our city/country/world? What in your personal experience makes you care about this thing? How are you acting on those frustrations (if at all)?

The hosts of the dinner, Emily Patton and Matt Oppenheimer, are longtime supporters of Kids4Peace. They value the work that Kids4Peace does to build a community of interfaith youth peace leaders, but they were also looking for the opportunity to have their friends experience the magic of Kids4Peace. This led them to invite people to dinner to see for themselves the power of the honest dialogue that Kids4Peace helps facilitate.

After an hour of conversation about the night’s question, the evening culminated with the creation of Team Oppily (a combination of “Oppenheimer” and Emily”), a Kids4Peace giving circle. A giving circle is a group of friends who come together to support a cause in a variety of ways. Financial support can be an important aspect of a giving circle, but Team Oppily will also be giving to Kids4Peace through things such as providing snacks for youth meetings, mentoring youth through sharing their experiences during K4P meetings, and helping to set up for larger K4P events.

image1

The first gathering of Team Oppily!

 

Team Oppily is also pooling financial resources to provide a matching challenge for Kids4Peace’s year-end fundraising efforts in Seattle. They will match up to $1500 in year-end gifts, essentially allowing people to double the power of their contributions.

“All of us have experienced frustrating things in our lives,” said Emily. “While some people may resort to hopelessness, I am continually inspired by the youth and adults involved in Kids4Peace. I talk about the program all the time, so I wanted to find a way to have my closest circle of people reach a more comprehensive understanding of Kids4Peace, too. It was a really meaningful evening and I’m so grateful for our friends who were able to attend the dinner and commit to giving of their time and resources.”

We thank Emily, Matt, and all of Team Oppily for their commitment to building peace in our communities! If you are interested in starting a Kids4Peace giving circle, please contact Jordan Goldwarg, Director of Chapter Development, at jordan@k4p.org.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, youth in Seattle and Cincinnati gathered with their communities for an afternoon of learning and friendship. Here is just a little taste of what the day held for everyone!

In Seattle…

Our October meeting was busy! Chances are we all left feeling a little overwhelmed, but in the best possible way. The school year is shaping up to be full of continued learning, advocacy work, planning and running workshops for other youth in the community, diving deeper into case studies of conflict, critically examining current events, and so much more!

DSC_0940

DSC_0903

Some highlights:

Our 10th graders, fresh from spending part of their summer in Washington DC, are taking on some local advocacy work with the De-Escalate Washington Campaign.

Our 9th graders are spending the year preparing for their trip to Washington DC next summer. They will be continuing to hone their leadership skills and deepen their understanding of advocacy. We started out their preparation with a crash course in the structure of the United States Government! The 9th graders will also be working together to plan and implement a workshop for younger youth later in the year, a workshop that will share some of the core messages of our work in Kids4Peace!

Our middle school students began the year critically examining some stories of conflict that we find in the sacred scripture of our religious traditions. This began their journey of exploring conflicts from around the world in preparation for heading to International Camp next summer with youth from both the United States and Jerusalem.

DSC_0912

Finally, we all worked together to begin planning our upcoming holiday celebrations – a time when our whole community can come together and share about our personal family traditions and the holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Our youth were excited to serve as party planners for this event and we can’t wait to celebrate together at our first event on November 4th!

In Cincinnati…

What do eight campers, twelve staff members, 40 plants, and one arching tree all have in common? Kids4Peace, of course! The Cincinnati chapter gathered on Sunday for a tree planting ceremony in Cincinnati’s historic cemetery, Spring Grove Cemetery. Having purchased a ‘peace plot’ earlier this year, participants were able to plant some seeds and saplings in the ground, leaving a remnant of their work and love for K4P.

After two months of being apart, the community came together with families and staff to celebrate the season of fall. It was a gorgeous day for planting. With running and jumping embraces youth greeted old friends who they had not seen since August. Shouts and laughter were exchanged over bags of chips and trowels. Hands and knees were strained, digging and planting in the soft ground. A lovely time was had.

IMG_5611

After the participants finished planting—dandelions, roses, sunflowers and one large tree—we gathered together for a tree-planting service to make the day more sacred. Bible verses, poetry, and prayers from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were shared and chanted. Songs were sung; and cheers were shouted.

PeacegardenF10222017DSC_0969_edited-1

The day was wrapped up with a historical tour of the cemetery. The campers got an up close look at some of the monuments and mausoleums. Some even got close to the swans and snails that lined the lakes and ponds’ surfaces. It was a day of becoming close with another and with nature. Our community remains strong, as we continue to grow together from the same root. What an exciting day it was!

IMG_5622

The Cincinnati chapter will get together again in just two weeks on November 10th to worship with the Islamic Center in Westchester, Ohio.

For more photos from these events see the Seattle or Cincinnati Facebook page!

Posted by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

On October 8th, 2017, 25 youth participants gathered at the University of Washington to explore some of the differences that can divide us. More importantly, participants and facilitators worked together to strategize how we can overcome difference and step out of our comfort zone to get to know others that we encounter in our daily lives.

The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) and OneWorld Now! (OWN) brought activities and wisdom from their experiences working with diverse youth, joining Kids4Peace Seattle to organize this workshop, which drew youth from around the Greater Seattle area.

dsc_0765-e1507597830297.jpg

As the middle and high school participants gathered they had the opportunity to engage in different activities. From exploring the different religious traditions to being introduced to the many ways to say “hello” around the world, participants began actively thinking about the things that divide us, and their own reactions to these things. The participants became conscious about differences in age, culture, gender, and more, before moving into deeper learning about languages with OWN and cultural differences with FIUTS.

DSC_0759

 

Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a person in a language they understand, that goes to their head. If you talk to a person in their language, that goes to their heart.” As youth began their breakout session with OWN, participants got the hang of phrases in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and French, learning a variety of survival phrases like “Hi, Bye, Yes, No, Thank You, Where is the Bathroom, etc”. Not only did they learn to communicate by speaking, they learned how to communicate with their actions.

This exploration of language introduced the youth to challenges they may face when meeting different people. As this session came to a close, youth reflected on the importance of language as a means of connecting with people across language barriers, and began to build empathy and deeper understanding as they encounters others in the future.

DSC_0857

The breakout session with FIUTS began by assigning a few people in the group a specific behavior. Because some of these behaviors were a little bit silly, this immediately broke the ice and began a deep discussion on what it is like when your actions, specifically the ones rooted in your culture, are misunderstood by those around you. Using the analogy of an iceberg, youth explored the 20 percent of culture that is visible above the surface, and the other 80 percent hidden under the water. The fact that you may only see a small part of a person requires the often difficult work of digging deeper to become aware of the things that make them unique.

DSC_0859

As the event came to a close, whether it meant telling a friend about what they had learned, writing a story for their school newspaper, or posting on social media some of their takeaways (#dialogueacrossdifference), all of the participants were challenged to find a way to take action in the coming week!

Just as we asked all of our youth participants, how can you be inspired to engage in conversation with someone who is different than you?

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

In honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace, celebrated annually on September 21st, youth in Kids4Peace Seattle share their reflections on peace:

“Peace is the acceptance of others in all communities across the world.”

–Jacob, 10th Grade

Dialogue - Three Photos

“Life is a constant battle for peace. Those who choose to advocate are the warriors.”

–Tallulah, 10th Grade

IMG-20170720-WA0021

“Peace is the bridge between anger and love.”

–Alex, 9th Grade

20161125_120347

“We can find peace everywhere, we just have to look.”

–Annabelle, 8th Grade

This past spring, youth from Seattle shared about their experiences in KidsPeace. Together they shared their story about the meaning and impact of this work in their lives and in their communities. As you hear their story in the video below, we invite you to reflect on your own stories and definitions of peace.

We truly believe that together, peace is possible.

Under Pressure

Kids4Peace —  July 2, 2017 — Leave a comment

Contributors: Ada (8th grade, NH), Deklan (7th grade, NH), and Fiona (Counselor, NY). 

As the rehearsals for the musical dramatic event “Peace Child” are in full swing, the campers and staff of Kids4Peace Vermont and New Hampshire’s first year camp are beginning to feel the challenges of memorizing, staging, and mounting a production. Fiona, a Senior Counselor from New York, NY, offers some perspective on the performers and their progress. Putting up a show in six days with six hour long daily rehearsals has her “nervous about their energy” on the day of the performance, for “it’s going to be a big stretch”. Ada, a rising eighth grader from New Hampshire, echoes Fiona, acknowledging that “it’s a lot of work”.

However, while the work can be stressful and exhausting, it is also just as rewarding. Now the campers are working on scenes and character development, helping them to realize the thematic value of this piece. Fiona believes that “they grasp that it’s something about peace and that it means more than other shows they might have seen or been part of”. That appreciation for the play has many of the campers eager to perform.

One in particular is Deklan, a rising seventh grader from Sunapee, NH. Because Deklan is “never one to get anxious or anything” while onstage, he is finding great excitement in his work. Especially in exploring his character, “Character”, in the play. Understanding his role and how Character connects to the other characters and action of the play is making him “feel more confident that [he] is going to enjoy it and have a really good time”.

deklan acting

Downstage from left to right: Deklan and Mariam

While the play is helping the campers to find meaning and joy for themselves, it is also helping them to connect to others. Ada is finding that the activities they do at camp and rehearsals have helped her to connect “to the [other] kids and enjoy being around almost all of them”. Deklan has also “made friends with kids from K4P through the play”, and has had “fun [meeting] people and [hanging] out”.

But the impending audience incites nerves and excitement. Fiona cannot wait for the kids to have a “really cool experience” with a “whole sea of people all there supporting” the group. And among that sea of people will be familiar faces. Looking forward to “maybe get[ting] to hug them” and maybe “ask[ing] for a picture with them”, Deklan cannot wait to see his family. Surprisingly homesick, this performance is also an opportunity to reconnect to his loved ones and share a beautiful story.

A story that Deklan claims “speaks for itself and … is very persuasive”. Addressing peacemaking and bullying, they hope that they play inspires the audience to go out and lead change in their lives and schools. But do not be alarmed at the portrayal of bullying onstage. Deklan reassures us that “the bullies on stage are just acting”. Don’t let their impeccable acting fool you; the Peace Child “is not hurt, she’s totally okay!” To all planning to witness this event- please sit back, relax, and enjoy the peacemaking.

Contributors: Hussein (7th grade, VT), Judah (7th grade, NH), and Sage (6th grade, NH).

audience

The early bird spreads peace and understanding at Kids4Peace camp, and these campers sure are living as peacemakers, waking up bright and early at 7:00 am yesterday morning. While they may not have bushy tails, the bright eyed campers headed off to the Flying Monkey House Theater for their first full day of rehearsal. And as they say in the theatre, early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!

actingAnd these young professionals were on time as they headed into a six hour rehearsal day, consisting of singing, dancing, and scene work. Working with graduate students, staff, and faculty at Plymouth State University, the campers began the journey of breathing life into their musical dramatic piece, Peace Child. However, even the beginning stages of the creative process challenge young performers to reach outside of their comfort zones.

Dance in particular proved demanding, for dancing in front of others can be quite vulnerable. Judah, a rising seventh grader from Hopkinson, NH, “really hates dancing in public”, but nonetheless “had to dance in front of people”. And with that positive attitude and willingness, Judah found that after awhile, “it was even fun!” Sage, a rising sixth grader from Loconia, NH, was continually pushed out of her comfort zone today as singing and dancing is already uncomfortable. And when the campers had to improvise dance themselves, it “was an extra push”, for she “did not feel comfortable making up things on stage with just loose instructions”. Even on the outskirts outside of her comfort zone, Sage was able to appreciate the situation as something that, while uncomfortable, is in fact just “new”.

Being in the theater can be intimidating in itself. Hussein, a rising seventh grader from Winooski, VT, was “really shy” and even “scared” when they arrived at the Flying Monkey House Theater. But Hussein found that “when [he] tried to do the things [the instructors] showed [them], [he] wasn’t as shy anymore, and it was fun to be an actor!” That positivity flooded the day as the campers experienced memorable moments together: hearing the unique score that was composed intentionally for them, learning each of their specific roles within the group, and singing the opening song together.

Both Judah and Hussein enjoyed singing the opening song, or as Hussein calls it, the Group Singing 2“special music”. After the young campers put their all into singing that song together, Judah assesses that it was “definitely a memorable moment”, for “it was a team effort”. The new community they formed together during the first day was further strengthened as they became something even more powerful, an ensemble.

 

Contributors: Arbai (9th grade, Winooski, VT), Emma (7th grade, Andover, NH), Sherihan, (6th grade, Winooski, VT)

Water bottles were decorated and the ice was broken as the camp season was officially kicked off yesterday at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Staff members welcomed fourteen young campers as they entered into their first Kids4Peace camp experience. After name tags had been made and suitcases were unpacked, the staff introduced themselves, and the campers played some get-to-know-you games. Working up quite the appetite, all gathered in the dining hall for dinner. But of course, no meal is complete without a blessing led by a camper.

 

19437509_1349217565156574_413859909257907386_nThe newfound energy from dinner fueled the following discussion revolving the group’s values and expectations while at camp. As campers and staff voiced their hopes and ideals, a Community Agreement was composed that will serve as the group’s foundation while at camp. While the group’s expectations of each other are captured in the Community Agreement, each of the campers had their own pool of hopes and prospects for the next eleven days at Kids4Peace.

 

19554753_1349216735156657_6222761309396805353_n

Sherihan, 6th grade, VT

Arbai, a rising ninth grader from Winooski, Vermont, has high hopes to learn a great deal while at camp. She even aspires to pick up “more English”. The desire to learn is also felt by Sherihan, a rising sixth grader also from Winooski, Vermont, who wants to know “how other people practice their religions”. But sleep away camp with a group of strangers can be intimidating, for campers must “[be] away from family” (Arbai). Not to mention the first day jitters, as campers are “talking and laughing with people [they] don’t know yet” (Sherihan).

19554493_1349218241823173_1612218451267862643_n

Emma, 7th grade, NH

Emma, a rising seventh grader from Andover, New Hampshire, on the other hand is purely “really excited for everything”, hoping to “meet new friends”, “learn about religion”, and “know what it’s like” to be away from home overnight. Whether one is full of unbridled hope, consumed by worry, or anything in between, all campers got the opportunity to voice their hopes and fears and listen to others.

 

The day was closed, accepting all of these hopes and fears, expectations and worries. The campers, now a community, went to bed, marking a successful first day of camp.