Archives For summer 2015

Word of the day: Empathy

merk4p —  August 18, 2015 — Leave a comment

by Selina, Counselor/Social Media Coordinator

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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.

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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.

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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)

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 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 Dagan, Jerusalem Jewish Advisor, Seattle Camp

“All we need is here…”

This chant (led by our Christian faith advisor Malcolm) has become one of our camp’s many anthems.  I found myself contemplating the meaning of these simple words, and would like to share my thoughts with you on this blog post today.

11844930_511692845647533_3277266647454671294_o Since landing in Seattle last Wednesday, I’ve been experiencing a strong sense of expansion and space. Coming from Israel, a land so dense and over-stressed, I can notice an inner hint of new air, of new opportunities. Must we go so far to renew? We are seeking a process of deep transformation, first within ourselves, and next, hopefully, for the world.

The Washington environment seems to me profoundly abundant; the trees grow so tall, with such grace… Fresh, clean water everywhere…  Vibrant green is the predominant color. Here in the Tracey Levine Center, we have all these beautiful meeting spaces for our activities, meadows for soccer and frisbee…  Here we are enjoying delicious food and comfortable accommodations. All this abundance is, no doubt, a wonderful starting point for the Seattle Kids4Peace camp.

Then add the richness each of us (staff and campers alike) brings, in our bodies, minds and souls. Together we form a unique creation, which expands and evolves each day. As camp enters its 5th day, it seems that our common quest, for peace, is to be reached through the non-conventional means of truth, the human heart, and the faith that unites us as living beings.

Peacemakers! We who choose to see, to keep our hearts open, to not accept the “truths” of the conflict. We choose to remain sensitive in the midst of hardening. We are peacemakers! Boldly saying, “No” to the violence. We who wish to live together. To believe peace in our turbulent land is possible. We resist, by building an alternative of love…

Yet, each of us is bound, by his own borders of perception… So at the Kids4Peace camp we create safe spaces, where we can study and question ourselves and others. As we explore ourselves, so we begin to meet the other more profoundly, more truthfully; without fear. I know myself, I trust myself, and therefore I am willing to listen to you and willingly accept you. I am not  afraid that your story will take my place. You are not my enemy. Hey, you can even be my new best friend!

We collect tools of the heart to help us on our journey to peace. We do this in community, each sharing his perspective and knowledge. In our community, words such as “gentleness”, “feelings”, “compassion” and “trust” do not denote weakness – on the contrary,  they are a sign of inner-power. 11875036_511685965648221_5621357679019118551_oThe true power of the future is the quality of inner-wisdom. And when this rippling power emerges in more and more people, peace will find its way back to our land.

Indeed, all we need is here. We live in such abundance; there is no need for violence. We have all the knowledge and heart we need. Let us have courage to celebrate our differences, and come together to realize a greater union.

(And thank you to Pam Orbach for help editing this post!)

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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.

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