Peace Village campers donate homemade trellises to community gardens

Thanks to the kids at the Columbia Gorge Peace Village in Mosier, some local community gardens will be looking a lot more festive and green this summer.

The 150 youngsters aged 6-13 who attended the annual five-day camp, which wrapped up on Friday at the Mosier Community School, donated homemade trellises to several community gardens located on both sides of the Columbia Gorge. The trellises were constructed out of trimmed choke cherry limbs that were provided by camp volunteer Jack Perrian and hand-tied by the kids — under the guidance of the camp’s art program director, Amirra Malak — with strips of colorful fabric.

On Friday afternoon, the trellises, along with a clay pot of peas to go with them, were gifted to representatives of six community gardens in the Gorge. They included: Sarah Segal, Hood River Middle School; Allison Betzing, Parkdale Elementary School; Joel Pelayo, Raice’s Garden in Odell, which is supported by The Next Door; Mosier Mayor Andrea Rogers; Carola Stepper, Cascade Acupuncture in The Dalles; and Judy Davis, Beth-El Shalom Senior Citizen Living Center in White Salmon, which has a community garden that grows produce for a local food bank.

DeLona Campos-Davis directs the camp, which is described on its website as “an interfaith, multicultural day camp with the mission to provide a fun, educational environment in which children can learn the messages and practices of nonviolence and peacemaking from various world traditions.” Campos-Davis said this was the first time in the camp’s six-year history that there had been a service project like this.

“Every year is different, because we take feedback after the camp,” she explained. “Staff, parents, and kids all said, ‘Let’s do more community service.’”

The kids weren’t the only ones who participated in community service. Campos-Davis said for this year’s camp, each family was asked to have one or more adults contribute a minimum of three hours of community service either before, during, or after camp.

The trellis idea came up in a brainstorming session held by camp leaders and fit nicely with the camp’s 2013 theme of “Healthy Habits.” Jody Behr, curriculum leader for the camp, said oftentimes, though, it’s the children who are coming up with the ideas, as the camp encourages children to assume a more independent role in their education.

“We have the rough ideas of the messages we’re conveying, but we let the kids do it,” Behr explained. “The kids come up with their own ideas and we try to stay out of it as much as possible.”

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