Westlake campers learn about peace, faith
Peace, shalom, salam – no matter how you say it, every faith tradition has peace as a guiding principle. Thus, the concept of Peace Village Day Camp was born.
During the week of July 11, 39 area children in grades 2-12 had the opportunity to learn about four aspects of peace at this special camp sponsored by Dover Congregational United Church of Christ. The camp, led by 30 adult volunteers, focused on Peace within Self, Peace and the Planet, Peace and our Culture and Peace with Others. The children were able to learn about peace through faith stories told by a rabbi, a Syrian immigrant and a Christian minister.
The purpose of the camp was to teach and expose children to peaceful practices through fun, outdoor adventures, classes, music and interfaith stories of peace and fellowship.
Ryan Mowchan, age 12, said, “Peace Village is nice because even though it’s about one topic – peace – we do a lot of different things during the day.” The children moved through different stations throughout the day. They began and ended the day in a large group and then broke up into age-appropriate smaller groups for the activities. They were actively engaged in arts and crafts, yoga, music, service projects and even a field trip on one of the afternoons. Camper Dash Hughes, 11, had this to say: “We played games using teamwork and communication.”
Children at the camp definitely learned something new each day. Reilly Larcey, 16, stated, “This was a good learning experience about different faiths – Jewish, Muslim and Christian. I didn’t know women could be rabbis, so that was neat to learn.” Even the youngest campers were able to articulate what they liked best. “This camp is fun – it’s taught me peace meditations” said 6-½-year-old Thea Sherck.
The closing program, held in the final half-hour of the camp, featured the students showcasing just some of what they learned over the four days. They sang songs, showed how yoga helped them find inner peace and demonstrated, through a skit, how they learned cooperation and peace with others. Everyone present was given a container of bubbles and told to blow peace bubbles out into the world and see how far they will go – meaning: take peace out into the world. During this week in particular, no message was needed more.
Dover UCC Pastor Keith Stuart ended the ceremony paraphrasing the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “If there is ever to be peace in our world; it will come from the children.”
The camp was such a success that Dover UCC plans to hold another Peace Village camp next summer. Coordinator Cynthia Stuart hopes that even more children will be able to attend in the future now that the word is out about the great experience of the inaugural group.