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Giving Peace a Chance—at Camp

Second annual Peace Village day camp
comes to Las Cruces July 9-13.

 

Summer camps for kids focus on all sorts of specialized subjects these days, ranging from honing math skills to helping teens lose weight. This summer, Las Cruces will be home to a day camp that's all about peace.

The second annual Peace Village camp, for students entering grades one through eight, will be held July 9-13. The camp offers a week of fun activities in which participants develop conflict resolution and non-violent communications skills, discuss ways to make peace by working for justice, and become more aware of the influence of the media on values and decisions. Campers learn to work, play and be creative in a cooperative, respectful framework. Children from all spiritual and cultural traditions are welcome at the ecumenical camp, which is co-sponsored by more than 20 community organizations.

The adults staffing the staff of Peace Village include volunteers from co-sponsors Wellspring, Community of Christ, PFLAG, Holy Family Ecumenical Catholic Church, La Casa and the Unitarian Universalist Church. They are current and retired educators, yoga/t'ai chi teachers, artists, drummers, singers, storytellers and dancers. The Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces provides a free membership to Peace Village campers as well as transportation during the camp. Classroom and playground space is donated by the Unitarian Universalist Church.

The cost to each camper is $50, which includes snacks for the week and materials for all activities. Scholarships are available to children who could not otherwise afford to attend. Teenagers who serve as intern counselors, recommended by co-sponsors or other community organizations, receive stipends. These young people develop their own peacemaking and leadership skills as they support the younger children during the week's activities.

Beginning on Monday, with the theme of "peace begins within me," campers will share stories, practice meditation with representatives from the Zen Center of Las Cruces, take part in a tea ceremony and create their own clay raku fired tea bowls with guidance from members of the Potter's Guild. As the week progresses, daily themes will be "the negative effects of greed," "appreciation for diversity," "giving thanks and giving back" and "forgiveness." Each day starts with a theme-relevant story and singing. Other activities will include: African, Latino and Middle Eastern drumming with Karuna from Family Pride Foundation; Native American drumming, chanting and dancing with Yolanda Martinez; folding origami cranes with volunteers from the Religious Society of Friends; a field trip to see a home built for sustainable living and to experience non-verbal communication with horses (a technique now being used to help children with emotional problems or with autism); making prayer flags with international students from NMSU; and a "blind lunch," to help sensitize children to the difficulties faced by people with disabilities.

Beginning on May 1, brochures including complete information and an application form will be available at Branigan Memorial Library, COAS bookstore and Mountain View Co-op, all in Las Cruces, and at any of the organizations acting as co-sponsors. For further information, contact Anne Nalls at 541-5608 or email peacevillage.lcnm@yahoo.com.

 

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