Forging Friendships, Promoting Peace

Annual Camp Teaches Children Importance Of Interconnectedness

Posted: July 25, 2013

The sixth annual Gandhi Center Children’s Global Nonviolence Summer Camp will be held Aug. 12-16. This year, the focus will be on the environment.

Known simply as “Peace Camp,” the summer program educates children ages 6-13 on the ideas of nonviolence and social justice.

“One of the many things the Gandhi Center does is educating the public and community,” said Gary Race, director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center of Global Nonviolence. Peace Camp focuses on education of the younger population, seeking to teach better communication skills, conflict-resolution strategies, the impact of individual actions and the importance of diversity.

Lessons Learned

Through engaging activities — such as creating and performing skits or participating in crafts — children learn valuable lessons about themselves and the community.

Reid Trybus, 7, was excited to share her experience at last year’s Peace Camp. “I think Peace Camp is one of the funnest camps I’ve ever been to,” she said.

A daily schedule includes arts and crafts, music, yoga and other activities. Race explained that each has an educational purpose to teach better communication and strategies to reconcile difference.

“[The activities are] fun, but they also give us an opportunity to talk about peace and the message of nonviolence,” he said.

For example, yoga is a way to help children focus, whereas creating group skits encourages social interaction and teaches conflict resolution.

Time And Talents

Anna Trybus, 10, who attended last year’s camp with her sister, also enjoyed the experience. “I had a lot of fun last year,” she said. “The counselors were really cool and the kids there were really awesome, as well — and I made a lot of new friends.”

Because the program is run by students — who volunteer their time — the camp offers a friendly, cooperative environment.

This year, 26 volunteers will help focus participating children and the larger community on the importance of the environment.

Social, Not Political

Though the camp teaches children about peace and some of Gandhi’s principles about nonviolence, Race clarified that the camp is not about Gandhian philosophy or any sort of political agenda, but rather the importance of social justice.

By focusing on interconnectedness, campers are taught to be more aware their own actions — both toward themselves and others.

Anna and Reid’s mother, Mary Clay Thomas, immediately saw the camp’s benefits in her daughters. “The girls felt connected to their experience,” she said. “I noticed they were happy to go [to camp] everyday and had lots of stories to tell on their way home.”

A year later, Anna and Reid still remember those rewarding experiences. “I learned that if I’m upset, peace is a really good way to calm myself,” Anna said. Reid added that before Peace Camp, she didn’t know about Gandhi or his principles but the program taught her new things. Plus, it offers “fun and happiness,” Reid said.

Focus On Earth

This year, the theme, “Planting Peace,” focuses on the importance of the environment.

“We’re really going to focus on plants and the environment, and how that impacts people’s lives,” Race said.

Race and his team are preparing for one of the biggest groups they’ve ever had for Peace Camp, but he’s excited for new and returning campers.

“The summer camp is one of the things the Gandhi Center does that engages the community,” Race said.

Matt Trybus, Anna and Reid’s father, couldn’t agree more. “It’s a really great way for the kids to meet other people, learn ... principles about peace and share in the experience with other children,” he said.

Gandhi Center Children’s Global Nonviolence Summer Camp will be held from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Aug. 12-16 at Memorial Hall, James Madison University, 395 S. High St.

Cost is $50 per child.  Registration ends Aug. 1.

For more information, visit jmu.edu/gandhicenter/.


Contact Sarah Stacy at 574-6292 or sstacy@dnronline.com.


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