Web exclusive: Letters from Peace Camp 



Building Camaraderie
By Carrie Gaffney, teacher, Center for Inquiry 2

Ask any adult who watches these kids go through the Peace Camp experience, and answers are remarkably similar. “They are at their best at Peace Camp.” “They take such good care of each other while they are there.” “They get to know themselves in nature, a rarity in our culture.”

My first time at Peace Camp, I went with an especially contentious group of eighth-grade girls. When we arrived, I was worried about how they would treat each other and their seventh-grade classmates. In less than an hour, the compassionate staff from Peace Learning Center had them out of their comfort zones and crossing boards in the mud. Mesmerized, I watched as they encouraged each other to take risks, held out their hands to help each other and cheered in unison when they accomplished the task.

Whatever negativity existed among the cliques during the typical school day, none of it was present as we roughed it at Peace Camp. Our time there helped establish empathy that, while not continuous, presented itself at strange and beautiful times during the year. When things got tense, we were able to draw on our experiences from camp and come up with solutions that connected to the kids’ experiences.

What I’ve Learned at Peace Learning Center: Fouls and Values
By Alex Ruschman, third grade, CFI 2

Hi, my name is Alex Ruschman and I learned that values help the community because it means telling the truth, being respectful, being patient, listening, being quiet when someone is talking and more. Fouls are when someone is doing something bad like hitting, shouting, kicking, shoving, talking when someone is talking, being disrespectful and more. Foul busters are when someone fouls someone and the person doesn’t foul back or does something in the book “Simon’s Hook” that would be a foul buster.

A Cornucopia of Surprises
By Jonathan Young, eighth grade, CFI 2

Peace Camp was a cornucopia of surprises. When I first went there I didn’t know what to expect. First of all when I went there I thought it would be another boring way to teach kids how to change the world. But when I got there we went on hikes, made campfires and played games that end up being a great way to teach me and other kids about how to play a big role in a global community.

Working Together
By Kayla Byrd, eighth grade, CFI 2

I’ve only encountered the Peace Learning Center once, when they came to CFI last year when I was a seventh-grader. It was fun, but it also had a good purpose. We split into groups with a combination of 7th and 8th graders. That was when I didn’t know the 8th graders that well. We did lots of activities that required us to work together. It brought everybody together and we even got to know each other better just in one day! Even though we had already been in school a few weeks, we were better acquainted with each other because of the Peace Learning Center.

They Wanted Us to Have Peace
By Tyler Kniess, eighth grade, CFI 2

Every year I think about Peace Camp. I enjoyed all the great times we had. We made videos, played football, but the most fun was the tools they used to teach us peace. Peace Camp disguised them as games, knowing that we would have fun doing them and would be learning something deep within ourselves. After I have reflected on this, I realize that peace was the main reason we played those games. They wanted us to have peace.

The counselors told scary stories at night and played games with us during the day. Each day was something new to experience. We had some really great times. We played and laughed and had fun, always growing more attached to our mentors and what seemed like three minutes turned out to be three days. It was a great experience all in all, and I hope that someday when I have children, they will be able to experience everything that I was lucky enough to experience.

Changing My Ways
By Carmen George, eighth grade, CFI 2

Peace Camp was a great experience for me because it taught me to be peaceful. See, I used to be a violent young lady, but when I went to Peace Camp, I changed my ways.

Peace Camp taught me different ways to solve my problems, like I-Messages, Stop, What’s the Problem?, Peace Circle and Peer Mediation. I use these solutions to be a peaceful person.

The Most Fun in My Life!
By Riley Bogan, eighth grade, CFI 2

My experience at Peace Camp was probably the most fun one of my life! All the counselors were really nice and they had lots of fun activities for us to do. I don’t like spending the night at other places, and I was really scared about going to Peace Camp, but that changed once I know how much fun I was going to have! The camp was only two nights, but I wished it had been a whole week! They taught us ways to solve our problems without creating more and how to just avoid them altogether. I hope we go again this year!

How Peace Camp Affected Me
By Katelyn Wright, eighth grade, CFI 2

While I was at Peace Camp the counselors had us break out of our “cliques” and talk to people we would never talk to at school. And because of that I learned a lot of things. I learned that life is too short to get in conflicts about stupid things. I also learned that we should all look at each other for who we are and not for what we’ve got. Not only did I learn a lot, I had fun learning it.

I Learned So Many New Things
By Destiny Nicely, eighth grade, CFI 2

Sitting on the bus, driving through swerves and curves. I glance out the window seeing trees so tall, wondering what is going on inside those big woods.

We finally reach camp, butterflies floating in my tummy. The bus trudges up the big hill, I see many things, buildings and a lot of hills, even a miniature lake. It was so cool. The bus tires crunch against the rocks and I see people standing there waiting, their faces were glowing. I couldn’t wait to learn a lot of new things and have an adventure. I remember this one lady so much, “Hi I’m Kat.” I couldn’t wait to get to know her more. She seemed like a really nice lady.

As she finishes her words the wind blows across my face. The air was moist and sticky, it had probably been raining. We all gather into our different groups, girls were separated from boys and you were put with your class members. We grabbed our luggage and tugged it to our new home for a few days. The bunk beds were tall and didn’t have any ladders; it was so much fun climbing the way up, they made sure we were safe though.

When everything was settled, we sat down and spoke our names and something about us. That night we had a delicious dinner, took showers and went to sleep. It was so odd being with people from school at camp, but I kind of felt at home, like I could be myself. Girls were playing hide and seek while we waited for the counselors to come in and tell us it was time for lights out. They finally walked in and the lights went off. It grew silent and all you could hear were the crickets outside.

Sun shines through the blinds and then the lights flip on, “Come on girls, get up, it’s time for breakfast.” I rubbed my eyes and hopped out of bed, took a nice big stretch and then got ready for the day. It was kind of chilly outside so I wrapped up in my coat and kept walking. After breakfast we went into a small building and played a game, and then we finally sat down and got serious.

They taught us many things such as
• What to do in a fighting situation
• How to deal with your problems
• Ways to stop arguments and settle them

I learned so many new things …

Peace is to Protection as Hate is to Destruction
By Jonah Stevenson, eighth grade, CFI 2

Eating ’round the campfire, telling ghost stories, eating affordable food. I watch the break-dancer as everybody laughs and claps. The lights go out. The guy with the laser-whitened teeth pulls out a knife as we all scream. “Today is the day everybody dies!” Then a guy tells him off in a kind and polite way. He was just re-enacting the way we shouldn’t do something like that. The counselors showed us cool games and how to prevent conflicts in sophisticated ways we had never known. We all want to go back to Peace Camp. Please send us back. We would really like one more time at Peace Camp for our eighth grade year.

Many Experiences with Peace Learning Center
By Jake Friedly, eighth grade, CFI 2

I have had many experiences with Peace Learning Center and every experience I’ve had with them I ended up learning something. Whether it was how to avoid conflict or how to be a peaceful person, it helped me in my future life.

Peace Is to Protection As Fun Is to Peace Camp
By Domonique Dashawn Henderson, eighth grade, CFI 2

While at Peace Camp I learned a lot of new things. One of the most memorable things was the first night at peace camp it was playing Uno all night long on the floor. Unfortunately I forgot the names of the counselors, but I will never forget the nachos we had. They were the best I ever had. At the Peace Learning Center I learned a new phrase and it was “Stop, what’s the problem?” And that is my memorable experience at Peace Camp.

Dancing at Camp
My experience at peace camp was very fun. I got to go in the woods at night and hike. We had a campfire and told stories. I got to eat good food everyday like pizza and chicken. I like peace camp because we go to dance. The type of dancing we did was break dancing. We also had rec time. During rec time we played football and that was the best time of peace camp. Peace camp was one of the best experiences for me.

Peace Camp
When I first went to Peace Camp, my friends and I had fun. My friends and I learned a lot form going to Peace Camp. When I was walking around with my friends, I went on the trail, we played tug of war, ate pizza, made cookies, and drank juice. We also played with a bow and arrow. All I’m trying to say is that Peace Camp is fun.




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