On Sunday (*July 31st, 2016*), Merrowvista welcomed Kids4Peace campers to our community. Kids4Peace brings Muslim, Jewish and Christian young people together for a week of interfaith dialogue with the goal of building understanding and respect. From this foundation, they leave camp with skills and goals to be a Peacemaker in their communities.
These Peacemakers in training join the larger camp community for meals and for two interest groups a day. Last night, they led an Evening Reflection on the concept of peace. They shared their thoughts on what peace is and why peace is important.
Some young people referenced how things they heard on the news made them feel, both as a person of a specific faith group but also as a peacemaker wanting equality for all people. Some quietly shared their vision for peace in our world, and others spoke passionately about their desire to create change and inviting all the campers and staff to stand against prejudice and stereotypes.
They spoke from the heart, and with honesty.
“Peace … can be achieved if people will listen to everyone’s opinions. The key is to have discussions rather than arguments.”
“Peace allows people to be who they are. Peace to me means hope and a connection to your inner self.”
“Peace to me means equality, everybody and every single stereotype being together. Peace is important because with it, everybody can be equal.”
“I think some people should have more positive actions and words. Sometimes people talk about how bad Muslims are when that is really a stereotype. I’m Muslim and some people in this wonderful camp are Muslim too. We should just take time to understand who Muslims really are.”
“Peace is important because it gives each religion the respect and equality it needs.”
“Peace needs: Honor and Trust, Diversity, Making Friends, Love, and to get rid of Stereotypes and Racism.”
“Peace means everyone getting along and feeling safe anywhere they go and not having to change themselves for safety and happiness.”
The evening ended with a few minutes of quiet where campers were invited to reflect on a few questions – what peace means to them, why they think it is important, and what they think we need to do to be peacemakers. Great questions for us all to consider!
One of the most wondrous parts of living at Merrowvista each summer is that it is a community created and cared for by our campers. Our staff facilitates and guides, but the power of this community is that what is created is theirs – the campers’! We begin each day with their thoughts on topics important to them, and often end our days with their voices. Their own, best selves bring the values to life. It is hard work, but filled with learning. Listening to the Peacemakers share last night, and watching our campers listen thoughtfully and respectfully, brings such hope for the future! If only all adults had the chance to really hear what these wise campers have to say.
Peace be with you!