How did we end up with over one-hundred 6-13 year-old kids at the Hispanic Cultural Center doing yoga, thinking critically about the media, connecting with nature and learning about conflict resolution for four days? I do not know, but the way all the moving pieces came together to create Learning Peace: A Camp for Kids is one of my favorite Summer 2017 stories.
Seven adults gathered at the United Church of Christ Church in Nampa in February. Members of Southside Methodist Church knew about the UCC curriculum Peace Village and wanted to put on a camp in Nampa. I had been invited through the Nampa Ministerial and invited my good friend and colleague, Grace Episcopal Priest Karen Hunter. We met every other week for the next seven months and in the end the event included:
A team of awesome volunteer teachers who implemented the curriculum each morning.
Use of the beautiful Hispanic Cultural Center (in exchange for Karen doing some grant-writing for them).
Two weeks out we had 12 kids registered so we put a two-day ad in the newspaper and the Nampa schools sent an email to every family in North Nampa, where the Hispanic Cultural Center is located.
Japanese Drummers from the Buddist Temple in Ontario, Oregon came Monday afternoon.
Naturalists from Birds of Prey brought raptors Tuesday afternoon.
Aztec Dancers came Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday afternoon included low-ropes course team-building.
A St. Luke’s nutritionist came Monday morning and taught the kids about mindful eating.
Mayor Henry brought us greetings in person on Thursday morning and even hid a rock with one of the Mindful Movement classes.
Two sister-ELCA Lutheran churches loaned us their vans so we could take up to 30 kids to Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge each afternoon. I used one of the vans to pick up and take home 12-13 kids from Farmway Village outside of Caldwell each morning and afternoon.
Luther Heights Bible Camp had a day-camp cancel so I housed two college-age counselors who served as team leaders. Two other counselors, working at a day-camp in Caldwell in the mornings, joined us in the afternoons
Around 20 adults and another 12 teenagers volunteered throughout the week. The attendance at our review meeting this past Thursday blew me away. Who wants to attend a meeting when something is completed? Chairs in the room kept getting filled by 18 compassionate and dedicated adults who want to make next year’s Learning Peace: A Camp for Kids even better.
One more big THANK YOU to the members of Trinity Lutheran who volunteered their time and skills and those who sent texts of encouragement throughout the week. I will end with the text I sent on Monday to an inquiring member who asked how Peace Camp was going. “Crazy and fabulous at the same time. The ethnic and socio-economic diversity is beautiful–a great portrait of Canyon County. The teaches have prepared so well and the Luther Heights staff are the icing on the cake.”