an article by Jim Sargent
A summer camp in Maine seems an unlikely place for a vigorous, hands-on experiment in world peace but that is exactly what is happening on Pleasant Lake in the little town of Otisfield. Born of an idea by former foreign correspondent John Wallach ten years ago, the camp focuses on bringing together youth from war-torn countries and allowing each individual to discover that "the enemy has a face."
Initially the camp, known as "Seeds of Peace", included Israelis and Palestinians selected by officials of the disputing factions as among the brightest and most promising teens in their homelands. Kids from these two cultures are still an important part of the camp experience, especially after violence has escalated in Israel, but youth from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Cyprus and several other war-ravaged countries also participate today.
Spending that first night in the same bunkhouse with kids you've been taught to hate and fear for your entire young life must be a wrenching experience. But by the end of the three-week session deep and lasting friendships have been forged between youngsters who, only days before, could only think of each other as among the faceless and despicable "enemy."
John Wallach, only 59, passed away on Wednesday, July 10, 2002; a victim of that terrible enemy we all face, cancer. He was a true giant in the struggle to mold a lasting peace in this world. Sadly, Wallach died as the Mideast conflict rages on with bitter intensity.
His dream of peace, though, will not die. It lives on in the hearts of over 1600 former participants and in the activity of a truly astounding and life-altering experience in Otisfield, Maine at a camp called Seeds of Peace.
I highly recommend that you visit their web site at www.seedsofpeace.org and read John Wallach's book: "The Enemy Has A Face", an engaging description of the Seeds of Peace summer camp experience.
Question(s) related to this article:
The best way to deal with entrenched animosities, Are they neutral situations such as the peace camp?
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LATEST READER COMMENT:
There is something irreplaceable about summer camp -- the outdoor group living experience near nature -- that allows us to slow down and discover ourselves, each other, and what is important.
We remember who we are.
We discover new creativity, so what was impossible is suddenly possible.
Here are descriptions of:
1. SIX 2003 YOUTH SUMMER CAMPS FOR PALESTINIANS AND JEWS
2. THE FIRST OSEH SHALOM~SANEA AL-SALAM JEWISH-PALESTINIAN FAMILY PEACEMAKERS CAMP
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SIX 2003 YOUTH SUMMER CAMPS FOR PALESTINIANS AND JEWS
(please excuse us for not reporting more of the camps that happened)
Building Bridges for Peace
On the Web at http://buildingpeace.com , this successful Denver-based work annually brings together Israeli and Palestinian teen girls, and others, and helps them sustain their relationships during the year.
Creativity for Peace Camp
Teen girls, ages 14-17, from Israel/Palestine met July 7-21, 2003 in New Mexico, and will sustain their relationships "back home" during the year. A co-founder was Debra Sugerman ( email@example.com ). The story is on the Web at:
Face to Face/Faith to Faith
Offered by the Auburn Seminary in cooperation with Building Bridges for Peace
The Middle East Peace Camp for Children in Seattle, Washington completed its week for the second year. It was sponsored by the Arab Center of Washington, Kadima Jewish Community, and Beyond Borders. . ...more.