by Kate Owens

Summer is a busy time at Peace Learning Center! Summer means it’s time for Peacebuilders camp! One of our most prominent summer programs is Peacebuilders Camp. Peacebuilders Camp takes place from May-July and often focuses on issues like teambuilding, conflict resolution, mindfulness and building communication skills. Different groups come to attend a day of camp throughout the summer, so no two days at Peacebuilder Camp are the same, but each one brings fun, learning, and growth.

Upon arrival, a PLC facilitator goes over the day’s agenda and the students make their own “Agreements for Peace”, which is a list of guidelines the students set for themselves about how they should act to be respectful and get the most out of their day at PLC. Once the guidelines are set and agreed to, it’s time for some icebreaker games! These are important because it helps the kids get comfortable and start opening up, which is important for the rest of the day’s activities.

The game River Crossing is always a hit at Peacebuilders Camp. The group must work together to get from one side of the ‘river’ to the other by stepping on a limited number of ‘logs’ or mats. If anyone falls off their mat, the whole group has to start over. To do this successfully, it’s necessary for the campers to listen to each other and work as a team to reach the other side of the river.

Next, there is a time set aside for meditation. Meditation looks different for everyone and this session begins with a discussion about what inner peace means to the kids individually. After thinking about the meaning of inner peace, a PLC facilitator leads the group in a short guided meditation/breathing exercise. When the group comes back together, they discuss the importance of mindfulness and how it plays a role in conflict resolution and dealing with negative feelings in a healthy way.

Following the meditation session, the group goes on a nature hike! Since PLC is located inside beautiful Eagle Creek Park, going for a hike gives us the opportunity to get out and reconnect with nature. This is important because spending time outdoors can be great for mindful living. It also serves as a reminder that we should treat the earth with the same respect we strive to treat other people.

The day wraps up with the group circling back up with the facilitators to discuss their day. Through this debrief, the kids think about the activities of the day and what they learned from them. Many kids share things like: “My favorite part was the river crossing game because we had to work together. It was cool that the adults didn’t step in and let us figure it out for ourselves.” The activities at Peacebuilders Camp encourage personal development and can have a big impact on the lives of all those who participate.