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Give Peace (Camp) a chance

[Stock photo]

The Conrad Grebel University College is once again holding its annual Peace Camp next week with the goal of teaching kids, in an activity-filled setting, all about peace.

That is, through games, sports arts and crafts and field trips, the day-campers learn and practice skills they need to make peace, resolve conflict and come to a mutual understanding with their fellow creatures.

This year, the Peace Camp is teaming up with the people at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, who will be helping run the activities.

“This summer our theme is finding our peace superpowers,” said Katie Gingrich, director of The Ripple Effect Education (TREE), which runs the camp. “So recognizing how we as individuals can build ourselves up to be excellent peace-makers, in our relationships, with our friends our families and in our communities.”

Far from being an abstract state or some larger than life notion, peace, notes Gingrich, and especially the ability to make peace, is a skill that can actually be taught and learned. It’s why the camp was created, to give children the instruction and practice they need to learn those skills in a fun way and apply them to their real lives.

“So Peace Camp has been running here at Grebel since 2011, so we’re in our eighth summer,” said Gingrich. “And in that time we have seen a lot of impact on our junior youth in our community. We’ve seen them grow and change and become more aware of what’s going on in their communities. But also equipping them with tools that they need to be 21st century citizens.”

Gingrich will be on hand to lead the camp, but she won’t be alone. Several guests have been invited to come and meet the campers as well to teach the kids through fun activities. Groups like the Christian Peacemakers Teams, local community justice groups, the Urban Youth Leadership Alliance and Waterloo Global Science Initiative, who will be leading kids on a scavenger hunt to teach them about the U.N. Social Development Goals.

“So together all of those folks are going to share a little bit more about peace work that they are doing in the community. And they will be sharing strategic and practical tools for our youth to be able to take what they’re learning and to put it into practice in their own lives,” said Gingrich.

New this year, the Peace Camp is starting up a partnership with the Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, based in Hepworth, along Lake Huron.

“It just seemed like Peace Camp was a good fit between the values of Silver Lake Mennonite Camp and obviously they had developed a program in keeping with their values as well,” said Karen Cornies, executive director of Silver Lake Camp.

“So we decided to collaborate. And Silver Lake has been able to provide the staffing for it this summer.”

The Peace Camp is being held next week, starting on Monday and running until Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The camp is aimed at kids aged 11 to 14, and open to first-comers. Those interested in learning more or signing up can head to Conrad Grebel University College for more information.

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