Peace Village engages kids in camp with a purpose

Five years ago a group of parents from across faith communities gathered together to share a vision; seeking a way to teach children peace-building skills, and teach them early.

With the guidance of DeLona Campos-Davis and a team of adults from elementary, high school and college-level educators to yoga teachers, artists, musicians and religious leaders, Peace Village summer day camp began.

This year, 105 young folks, from both sides of the Gorge joined the traditional, fun camp life and explored the deeper lessons of conflict resolution, bully-management and sustainable living.

The curriculum is based on activities and crafts that help the campers learn how to “create peace within, among and around,” said Campos Davis. That translates specifically to peace within one’s own heart, between oneself and others and in the world as a whole.

“We work for a theme of ‘connectedness.’ This year we focused on food, its sources, and service,” said Campos Davis. While enjoying snacks and lunches during the 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. five-day event, campers learned where their food came from, helped prepare it for each other and then practiced highly efficient recycling.

“Over the course of the first three days with 150 people a day, we generated just 3 pounds of garbage from all activities,” said Jodi Tepoel, adult volunteer master recycler for Peace Village.

The sustainable living lessons didn’t end there. In fact, many of the arts and crafts projects were created specifically to recycle “throw-away” materials into beautiful art.

Cynthia Caudill and Amirra Malak, two local adult artists, volunteered their time to bring new life to old, donated T-shirts. By teaching the campers how to cut and weave the colorful cotton fabric, wall-size mandalas and baskets soon graced the gym walls of the Mosier Community School, host site for the camp.

The camp is also a model of community investment and support, receiving funding from Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, Hood River Faith Connections and the ATOD Coalition, multiple faith groups, parents and community members. A team of 50 teen and adult counselors and facilitators provided supervision.

“We will be back again next year,” said Campos Davis. “It is a great experience for everyone.”

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