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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.

Houston camp visits NASA

merk4p —  August 13, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Dala, Muslim Counselor, K4P Jerusalem

unnamedIt was our last day at Camp Allen, so we ate breakfast and headed to NASA and now we’re spending this one night at the Clear Lake Islamic Center. Our big adventure of the day began in NASA. We ate lunch there and we had a slideshow about the background and current events of NASA.

Brian Duffy is a famous astronaut that we met today at NASA, who told us multiple stories of his experiences; some were happy and some were about difficulties he’s had during missions.

Each group went with one NASA staff member to have a guided tour all around the NASA museum, and the kids were amazed by each different step they were guided. We even saw what astronauts eat during their journey to the moon and what their restrooms look like.

We arrived at the Islamic center in time for dinner; then we will be leaving in the morning for the Cathedral church tomorrow.

The next mission for the astronauts is to land on Mars, so we’re hoping in the near future that Mars will have human footprints on it, just like the moon.

Everything is possible, if you BELEIVE.

“I am very happy I had the chance to visit NASA today. I got to see things I have never seen before in my life.” -Shahd, 13, Muslim

“We spend our time today with the astronauts it was an amazing time. We also watched a movie on a huge screen. It was a great time to be spent at.” -Cleo, 13, Christian

by Leah, K4P Summer Intern

  11864890_704135219692543_7241628479877859214_o 11872022_704135076359224_8688489099147585843_oThe theme of the day was learning about how to “go green”. We spent the morning at Kibbutz Lotan, a small Kibbutz that is just down the road from Ketura. There, we went on a tour of their eco campus where we learned all about composting and reusing our resources. A highlight of our visit was making bricks out of mud and hay.

The kids learned about how we can use the earth and the resources around us in order to build homes and other buildings. At Kibbutz Lotan (almost, if not all of,) their homes are made out of the same material (clay and hay) that we created. In making these clay bricks, the campers got their hands dirty and mixed sand, clay, and water together. Then they shaped the mixture into bricks and put them out in the sun to dry. After, they took already dry bricks and built bridges out of them.

The bridges they built were strong enough to bear their weight so they had a lot of fun walking around on the bridges and testing their new creations’ limits. It was amazing to see how well the kids work together in a team when they are working toward a common goal. After mud building, the kids completed their tour by getting to see the homes made of clay and seeing what an ecological bathroom and kitchen looks like. We finished off our time at Lotan with lunch there, and the campers got to experience composting their own food scraps for themselves.

11882313_704135596359172_1550955720072931400_oOn the way back to Ketura, we took a detour and went to Yotvata, Israel’s dairy capital. The kids loved buying their favorite dairy products there and trying the delicious ice cream. Once we got back, the kids listened to a presentation about the Arava Institute that is hosted here, at Ketura. Learning about the institute really helped them round out their eco experience. Later, they had their movement session with Shuli.11856301_704135749692490_8064042934508902601_o

For the last night here, we had a barbecue and pool party. The kids loved swimming, dancing, and bonding. We are sad to leave but excited to see what Kids4Peace brings us in the future. The campers can’t wait for Leadership!

A very special thank you to the US Consulate General in Jerusalem for making Roots Camp at Ketura possible! The campers are so thankful for their experience this summer.

by Leah, K4P Summer Intern

11882806_703657183073680_598313525766737926_o 11879117_703658353073563_9118155578323815440_oAnother exciting, hot, and action-packed day! The highlight of the campers’ day was definitely their movement session with Shuli. Shuli organized a session where they really got to explore their creative side. The unique part is that for the first time, they were told to make a mess.

Shuli gave the kids a ton of newspapers and asked them to rip them up into tiny pieces until the ground was completely covered in newspaper shreds. They got really into it and even started making snow angels in the newspaper! Though I suppose they’d be called newspaper angels…

Throughout the session she had them do different activities and competitions with the newspaper mess. First, she split them up into four different teams and asked them to choose a corner. Then they tried to get as many newspaper shreds to their corner as possible. The next exercise was a bit more challenging. They were asked to make a fort or home out of the furniture and other supplies in the room we were in and then create a presentation to show to the group.

BUT, they were supposed to do all of this without speaking. It was really incredible to watch them use their imaginations and work so well in teams, all without talking to each other. They cooperated so well with each other, and you could really tell how much they trust each other and each other’s ideas.

This is what Lour has to say about the movement session today:

“This is the fourth movement session that we have had during this camp, and every day it becomes more and more exciting. Shuli is very focused on helping us explore other cultures and letting our creative side run wild. I was a little bit surprised when she told us that we had to rip up newspapers and throw them on the ground. I remember looking around at her and the advisors with a very puzzled look on my face. I thought the idea was a little bizarre, but the moment I began ripping the newspapers apart and tossing the tiny shreds into the air, It felt very good. I felt like art and creativity can be expressed so differently and that it isn’t only limited to quiet and clean activities. It was also an amazing experience to try and build homes out of materials. My group was very successful at it and I must say, our presentation was hilarious. Overall, it was great to see everyone participate in making a mess and surprisingly, in cleaning it up. I felt like we were all very connected and could work together as a team.”11882398_703646379741427_4416038817952705029_o

After the session we planned our hike and poike dinner for tonight, painted the concrete shapes we made on Monday, and went swimming. We told the campers that we have a surprise for them tonight. We’re going to watch the meteor shower! Stay tuned to hear about our experience!

by Dala, K4P Muslim Counselor, Jerusalem
11846748_491779597655920_2136038619410923129_n 11836784_491780017655878_116455258060498258_nAnd we’re on the 6th day now, 5 more days to go. Today is our last night at Camp Allen so tomorrow we will be heading to the Islamic center to stay for one night.

We had another morning with a birthday and it was Lutfi’s birthday, one of the Jerusalem campers.

After breakfast we continued with our regular schedule with art, music, and Olympic Games.
Today was the last day to swim in the lake, so everyone had fun doing the blob, giant swing, iceberg, and the canoeing. After 2 hours of swimming and laughing it started to rain, so everyone started to run so we can get to the cabins as quickly as possible. This is Houston, it is very hot that it even starts to rain from that high temperature “Crazy Houston”.

We ended our night with a great movie “Apollo 13” which was considered a failure, but then ultimately a successful mission to the moon. Everyone sat with their pillows and blanket all in one room to watch that movie and we were getting the kids ready to our adventure tomorrow in NASA.

By Talia, Roots camper

10344283_703390589767006_3898699421493161243_o Today we got to go to the beach in Eilat, experience some cool water sports, and spend some time in the Ice Mall food court. The water sports were really awesome, and were super fun. We had a few different kinds, such as tubing, boating, and riding on the banana boat. When we weren’t playing water sports, we got to enjoy the beach.  After the amazing experience in Eilat, we continued onto a movement session, and even got a movie night! It’s so cool to be able to participate in such a variety of activities at camp.

Quotes from all the girls

Anaghim: Each day gets better and better.

Devorah: It was fun to see the Jordan crossing and learn all about the politics between Israel and Jordan.

Mais: Water sports was the best part of the day.

Tia: The people with us are really cool, especially the advisors and counselors.

Adan: My favorite part of the day was water sports, but I like how camp keeps getting better and better.

Loure: My favorite part of the day was when I fell on Zeena during tubing and then we both fell in the water!

Yasmin: Banana boat was my favorite part.

Lour: This camp is very well planned, and no day is like the other. Today was very different from yesterday, and tomorrow is going to be even more different.

Nina: It was fun to push Samer in the water!

Zeena: Tubing was my favorite part.

by Dala, Muslim Counselor, Houston Camp

11781603_491338397700040_5975133429892608350_n Time passes so quickly.  Here we are on the 5th day. We started our day with birthday’s songs because we had two birthdays for Stuart who is the director of camp, and for May who is another Jerusalem counselor, so lots of delicious cakes were eaten by everyone.

The next part of the day was the activity part and we went to the high rope courses.  It was so nice seeing the kids supporting each other when they are all on very high heights. We went swimming after the high-ropes because we needed a cold place to be in because Houston is so hot.

We ended our night with a campfire and we did s’mores. A camp with Kids4peace can’t be finished without a campfire which everyone sits together and just chat over the campfire with music and everything.

11836627_491336987700181_3886225047278757635_n

“Today we went to the high ropes, I was scared at the beginning, but then I got a lot of support from friends and I had so much fun I even did the zip-line.” -Marianne, 13, Christian

“Today I had so much fun I was partying so much and I had a blast at the lake because the activities were new to me and I experienced it for the first time.”  -Mira, 13, Muslim

by Leah, K4P Summer Intern

 11232917_702987846473947_8754832709214966157_oDay 2 began bright and early with a morning bike ride. We met at the bikeshed at 6:15, and we were off to ride around the rocky trails near Ketura for about 45 minutes. The campers who did not know how to ride a bike got to ride in the backseat of a pickup truck through the trailers. Everyone was included no matter their skill.

As we rode through the dusty paths, we saw sand dunes, mountains, thousands of date trees, and most interestingly: Jordan. The mountain range across from Ketura is in Jordan. Seeing just a glimpse got the kids excited about tomorrow’s visit to the border. The campers loved getting to start off our day with something so active.

After the ride, the campers headed back to their rooms to recharge and get ready for the rest of the day. We were then off to breakfast.11054416_702988049807260_3594209053802510506_o Since we are switching off prayer days for each religion, today was our Jewish campers’ turn to say prayers before eating.

When breakfast was over, the campers had another break and then we had our morning meeting. We went over the schedule, talked about what the day has in store for us, and what we are most excited for. The kids then left for their second movement session with Shuli.

They had a really good time with her and they seem to be having a very meaningful experience communicating with each other through their body language instead of verbally. It is exciting to see the impact the movement sessions have left on the campers.

After the movement session, we got crafty. All of the campers were divided into teams of two to create a special art project. We mixed sand and water together to make a mold for a concrete-like mixture. The kids had a lot of fun exploring their creative side by carving different shapes into the now muddy sand. It was really fun watching them bounce ideas off of each other so they could make a unique art piece. They really seemed to understand the importance of using teammates when working in a group, and they genuinely enjoyed having a partner to work with.

11879085_702988639807201_660067227713121880_oAfter facecasting, we headed to lunch and then had the afternoon to recuperate after our busy couple days. The campers had the choice of swimming or resting in their rooms. Either way, it was nice to cool off either in the water or in the air conditioning. At 4:30 pm, we left for a session led by the Ketura about what a Kibbutz is.

After we learned about the structure of Kibbutz Ketura, we were split up into three separate groups and each given a controversial Kibbutz scenario. For example, the Kibbutz was running low on water, especially because it is in the desert. Therefore, the campers had to decide alternative ways to use less water. They came up with not planting grass and replacing it with synthetic grass. Then, they presented their ideas to the group, had a group discussion, and voted on whether or not they should replace the grass. The purpose of this exercise was for the campers to understand how a Kibbutz committee meeting is run. After this session, we had dinner.

We went on a walking tour of the Kibbutz Ketura after dinner. On the tour, we got to see and learn about what a home on the Kibbutz looks like, the algae factory, and the solar panel field. The solar panel field was the campers’ favorite part. We got to see robots cleaning the solar panels, how cool! Right after the tour we headed to the highly anticipated Kids4Peace vs. Ketura kids soccer game. Everyone who wanted to play got the chance to. I was so impressed with how well the campers worked together and rooted each other on. Not to mention how great their soccer skills are!

It was a long but fun and relaxing day. We learned so much about Kibbutz Ketura today that the campers were more than content with staying here and experiencing all this place has to offer. Tomorrow, we go to Eilat, and the kids can’t wait to go tubing!

by Leah, K4P Summer Intern

11221555_702556333183765_537692727224051429_oIt was an incredible and action packed first day at Roots Camp! We began the day at the Kids4Peace office at 6:30am. The kids came energetic as ever, hugging all their friends, singing songs, and eager to get down to Kibbutz Ketura. After a three and a half hour bus ride, we arrived.

Nadav, one of our Jewish faith advisors was there to greet us, along with other members of the Ketura staff. Campers filed off the bus, one by one, each with a wider smile than the next one. We were here! And boy, was it hot.

From the bus, we headed straight to the Roots meeting room. There, we recharged with cold water, lemonade, fruit, and coffee cake. We started with an ice breaker because Samer, the new Muslim faith advisor, and I, the Kids4Peace summer intern and camp media manager, had not yet met the kids. We soon went over camp rules, expectations for the week, and what we hope to do at camp this summer.11794520_702557073183691_5203347602640481250_o

After our opening session, we headed to the Kibbutz’s cafeteria for lunch. Each day this week, we will listen to kids from each religion say a prayer before meals. Today was Christian day, so the six Christian campers presented a prayer to the group. Next, we ate. There were lots of options so all the campers found something they liked. After lunch, the campers headed to their first movement session with Shuli, our movement instructor. Shuli will be here with us for the week, leading movement sessions, followed by discussions, for our campers. Reports back from the campers were “really fun!” “interesting!” “cool!” They are excited to see what Shuli has in store for tomorrow.

Later, we moved into our rooms. The girls and boys are split, each with their own suite. Each suite has four bedrooms, with three or four beds per bedroom, a common room, two bathrooms, and a kitchenette. We then headed to the pool to relax and cool off. The kids couldn’t wait to get to the sand dunes.

The dunes was the highlight of our day today. The bus pulled up to an opening in the middle of the vast desert. Once we got off the bus, the campers were each given a sheet of paper with a question on it:11791985_702556336517098_9140927453872220006_o 

How do you feel now, sitting by yourself in the desert?

Loure said: “I feel so thankful to be sitting in this peaceful desert.”

Adan: The view reminded me how beautiful God is and how amazing his creations are.”

Talia: “I feel like I’m part of what’s around me. I can feel the sand, on my feet, in between my toes. Every little sound is magnified. The rustle of the paper, the scratching of my pencil. The wind doesn’t resist me. It acknowledges my presence and bends around my lone figure. I would stay like this for hours.

11223880_702556866517045_1906811591494242401_oWe each shared how we felt, sitting alone in the desert. It was a special time because all the campers were listening to each other, intent on how their peers were feeling. This was a unique experience for us. We connected to the land and most importantly, each other.

To wrap up the night, we had a bonfire next to the dunes. For dinner, we made pita bread by shaping dough and putting it on a huge round pan to bake over the fire. Ketura prepared a huge spread of things to put on our pita breads, including falafel, labneh, hummus, and white and milk chocolate spreads for dessert.

By the time we got back to Ketura, the campers were tired and ready to head to bed. If this is just day one, I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Special THANK YOU to the US Consulate General in Jerusalem for sponsoring this camp for us! 2015-08-09 (1)11794435_702557319850333_4516872084762313894_o

by Bar, Jewish Faith Advisor, Houston Camp

11850747_922733204449971_7011123391240170244_o Today is a beautiful, cool morning with the birds singing, the sun coming out of the trees and the lake begins to shine bright. We have some nice ladies in the kitchen, who welcome us each day with their smiles. Some of the campers dressed nice for Sunday worship.

We went to the outdoor chapel to hear Rev. Dub Brooks preach about the importance of our mission and purpose. He showed us with exercise weights that you need to share your burden because we all have a bunch of weight that we carry. Peace can be a heavy weight, but if we all carry it together it can be a wonderful gift.

Later, each group had their own different activity. With my group, we went to do art with Natalia. We are doing a mural project, and our group got the letter D to design of Kids4Peace. Everyone was making their own design, and at the end we tried to find a way to bring them all together. The combination of all the camper’s designs looks beautiful. We also began to paint it, but we still have a lot to do.

11794296_922733174449974_6042341932211129231_oAfter lunch, we went to the basketball court and everyone got ice cream, candy and a basketball to play with. All the campers were smiling and happy. Afterwards, we all went to archery and then to swim. The campers were really excited, and waited patiently to get into the water. Everyone was surprised to feel how warm the water was. Most of the youth tried all the lake water park options: giant slide, blob, iceberg and canoes and paddleboards. After a nice dinner with lots of fried chicken, we closed out the weekend with a fun country dance.