Kids4Peace National Camp
Day 1 and 2
There’s a certain kind of time warp that happens at camp. We’ve only been together for a day-and-a-half?? It feels like we’re family already!
As staff members, we come to camp thinking we have oh-so-much wisdom to impart upon young, inquiring minds. But, after 30 or so hours with these teens and pre-teens from Seattle, Vermont, and New Hampshire, we staff members are already getting a reality check and kicking it up a notch to meet the challenge of the bright and creative souls we’ve met here at Rockpoint School in Burlington, VT.
We began our day with Mindfulness & Meditation with Rev. Chelsea, our Interfaith Advisor. Have you ever seen two dozen teenagers sit still and pay attention to their breath for 30 minutes?? We have!
Hannah, our Dialogue Facilitator, watched the students wrestle with the concept of trust – when to set boundaries and when to allow themselves to be vulnerable. Their exploration of vulnerability continued as they shared with each other very personal stories about faith experiences.
Day 3 – Creating Local Change
On the third morning of camp, we discussed different views and perspectives in the media, and the way that they influence how people think about and understand issues. We watched videos of news reports from Fox News and MSNBC and saw how the reporters’ biases impacted the story. We then talked about the subject of the reports, the Black Lives Matter movement, and about how the stories were reported differently based on the source. Just like the styles of reporting were able to shift views on the issue, we conversed about how we can broaden the understanding of people through our own actions and words. This led to a small group conversations, with others from our local chapters, about how we can change our community for the better.
Our ideas included
• A Spectrum Sleep Out combating youth homelessness. A Spectrum Sleep Out is when a group of people sleep outside to raise awareness about homelessness and simulate the experience of being in a shelter. In order to participate, you have to fundraise money that will go to help homeless youth in your community.
• Youth reporting on local news, radio, and newspapers. We think it’s important to provide facts and information that people can easily access. We experienced how the media can be warped and we think that news told from the point of view of youth would be appreciated and beneficial, and would allow the voices of younger people to be heard. We could also report in the form of videos on social media platforms.
• Religious education through clubs and fun activities. With all of the fear around religion in the media, this would give kids an opportunity to have a better understanding about what different religions are truly about. This could be accomplished through after school activities and holiday gatherings.
• Community projects within schools that would help donate to food shelves or make meals at soup kitchens. This will change our community for the better because it will help supply people with food, and it will also allow people to take on a more active role in their community.
• Helping our community by improving the well-being of the community members by starting from the grassroots and helping kids feel confident and comfortable with themselves. This would help to reduce bullying and homophobia in schools.
• Helping and volunteering at animal shelters. It’s not only the people in a community who have to feel good, and making sure that the animals at your local shelters are doing well is a great way to accomplish that.
• Buying school supplies for, and tutoring refugee kids. Many refugees have been coming to Vermont, and ensuring that they’re comfortable and have what they need for school and Vermont’s colder winters will benefit the state. This is beneficial because if we educate these young people, we will have more intelligent people in our work force.
These all might seem like challenging goals to achieve, but if we work together to accomplish these goals, then we can improve the safety and well-being of our community. Our hope is that with your help we can accomplish all these goals and more.
Day 4, Muslim Girls Making Change
On our fourth day at camp, the Muslim Girls Making Change spent the day with us performing and encouraging the teens to write and perform their own poems. Check out the video below to hear about why using your voice, regardless of age, is so important.