Houston camp visits NASA

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

Half way through Houston Camp!

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.

Peace can be a heavy weight, but if we all carry it together it can be a wonderful gift.

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.

 

‘Kids 4 Peace’ brings Muslims, Jews and Christians to Camp Allen

By Luke Blount | July 23, 2012

[Diocese of Texas] Over the past decade, countless conventions, meetings and summits have been held in search of a long-lasting peace between faith communities in Israel and Palestine, but for the children who take part in Kids 4 Peace, the solution seems simple because they experience it every day.

Kids 4 Peace is a interfaith program developed through the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem andSt. George’s College in Jerusalem that brings together Christian, Jewish and Muslim children from the Holy Land and the United States to take part in summer camps. The first camp took place in 2002 at Camp Allen, and 10 years later, Kids 4 Peace returned to the Diocese of Texas to inaugurate an annual gathering for interfaith education.

Typically, 12 children, four of each faith, come together from Jerusalem along with 12 from the United States. They live, play, work and worship together for two weeks while exploring their similarities and differences. Currently, Kids 4 Peace has five two-week summer camps across the United States.

“Ten years ago we had this dream of a summer camp where children would have the chance to meet each other face-to-face, cross the lines of conflict, learn about each other’s lives and religions and lay the groundwork for a better future,” said the Rev. Josh Thomas, executive director.

Children from the Holy Land and the United States work together to conquer the ropes course at Camp Allen during “Kids 4 Peace” interfaith camp. Photo/Diocese of Texas

Looking at the group at Camp Allen in July, it was hard to tell which kids came from which country or religion. They liked the same games, wore the same clothes and spoke at least some English. During dinner one evening, they all sang along to a pop song from the British/Irish band, One Direction, belting out the signature line “You don’t know you’re beautiful” in unison.

“We are all friends,” said 12-year-old Eliya, a Jew from Jerusalem. “Jews, Christians, Muslims. That’s how it is supposed to be, so it’s good.”

The children spent the week observing the practices of other faiths including Jewish Shabbat prayers, Muslim prayers and an Episcopal Eucharist. After each service, they asked and answered questions to learn more about the three faiths.

Building friendships and seeking common ground came easily for the Kids 4 Peace throughout the week. They conquered physical challenges as well as emotional ones. One of the first activities they participated in together was Camp Allen’s challenge course and giant swing. The children had to work together, encourage and help each other to climb obstacles and ride a zip line more than 50 yards.

Kids 4 Peace campers engage in discussion with an adult leader. Photo/Diocese of Texas

“It’s fun because I’m not thinking, ‘They are not from my religion,’” said Eyal, another 12-year-old Jew from Jerusalem. “I don’t think like that.

Crossing cultural barriers is the central theme of the Kids 4 Peace camp, and Thomas sees a uniting principle that all three faiths can rally around.

“Kids 4 Peace’s bottom line message is that all the children of Abraham can live together in peace,” Thomas said. “Peace and being a peacemaker is a priority and an imperative of each religious tradition on its own as well as something that is strengthened by our time together.”

Throughout the week, the children displayed endless curiosity and love for each other. If one of them upset another, they were quick to forgive and forget. If another needed encouragement, they would gather together to cheer each other on. The ease with which they achieved a common understanding and the joy they expressed at every moment of the day leads one to wonder if these children could teach adults.

“Adults could learn that maybe not everyone from a certain place or group is bad,” said 12-year-old Serifat, a Muslim from Houston. “We are just like everybody else.”

“A lot of adults are not nice,” Eliya said. “I would just tell them not to behave like that because it’s not nice, and if we keep doing that, the world will never have peace.”

“If you are fighting because of different religions, it’s not a good example for anything,” Eyal said. “It’s just not the right thing to do.”

The simplicity of their message may seem trite when compared with the complexity of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, but perhaps they are on to something.

“I often say the Kids 4 Peace is the closest thing I have experienced to a glimpse at the reign of God,” Thomas said. “The ease at which they come together and form relationships is so natural that it offers a glimpse into human possibility of what we are here on this earth for. It feels as if they have been waiting their whole lives for this chance to be together.”

Thomas thinks that peacefulness is the natural state of these children, and if they can harness it at a young age, they can carry it into adulthood with a deeper understanding of what it means to be different, yet so similar. Kids 4 Peace conducts a continuation program in Jerusalem for 13- to 14-year-olds as well as a new leadership program for older teenagers to learn peace building skills as they transition to adulthood.

“It is possible to love your enemies,” Thomas said. “It really is possible to cross beyond those things that divide people and learn about one another. We can value each other’s dignity and worth while respecting differences.”

Visit the Kids 4 Peace website to learn more about the camps.

— Luke Blount is a staff writer and communications specialist for the Diocese of Texas.