When a few of us started meeting in the fall of 2007 to bring the Peace Village program to the Gorge, we had no thought that we would still be playing peace with kids 10 years later. We hoped our own children would enjoy the experience of learning a few practices for inner peace, gain some skills in conflict resolution, and be inspired by peace heroes near and far. That first summer, my own children were ages 6, 8, and 11-- all old enough to be campers. We chose animal names for camper groups and the tradition of having our youngest campers be called the Frog Group was born.
Mateo, in the yellow shirt above, was one of our first Frogs. He was about the size of his cousin Max, above in orange, who is a 2017 Frog. That's what 10 years looks like in the life of a child. Ten years, enough time for a sweet six year old to grow into a six-foot-tall young adult. 10 years of learning, playing, practicing skills for a healthy, full life in the larger world. 10 years to become a leader and mentor for the next crew of campers. I will forever be grateful for the community of peace educators, artists, musicians, youth counselors, and other adult mentors who helped my kids become caring, thoughtful, engaged adults. Parents of 2017 Frogs, Salamanders, Squirrels, etc. my hope for you is that you find community as an integral part of Columbia Gorge Peace Village and that together you can grow the next generation of leaders and teachers. --Peace, DeLona Campos-Davis
by: Ayva Sunshine, your resident counselor on crutches
This morning during the first of our village fair rotations, Heroes Magical Journey, about 10 of the children had the chance to go on an Imagination Vacation. I also had the chance to join some of my own campers on this peaceful journey. The class starts with some simple yoga, just something to stretch out and get the peace flowing. After a bit of student-led goofy yoga poses, like flying magic unicorn, we chose a spot on the floor to start our journey. This is a journey into our minds to find our most peaceful place. A place you can go to when you are feeling stressed or need a break, you can remember this place. The meditation starts with some simple instruction to relax, to breathe deep and open up your mind. The leader will ask you to imagine a path, this path will lead you to a door, it can be made of whatever you want, glass, wood, crystal... you reach this door and are invited to open it. Inside you see your happy place, your peaceful escape. A world of anything and everything that makes you happy. You are invited to explore this place, to listen to the sounds, to feel the ground under you and to smell the smells. You spend some time here and then are asked to start saying goodbye to your place. In my world, I had to say goodbye to my new animal friends as I stepped back through the door, onto the path. You are guided back along your path, and are asked to start waking up. Stretch out, open your eyes. After you have woken up, you have the opportunity to draw or write about your place, to help you remember your peace. Once you draw, the campers circle back up and share their experiences. It was amazing to see and hear the ideas and imaginations of the kids and even myself.
By Stephanie Delgado
Where are we? HERE! What time is it? NOW! We are at Peace Village, in Mosier, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, in North America, on Planet (spaceship) Earth! This place is a beautiful container for our camp, a rich and colorful reserve of energy and excitement that is building all year and finally comes together, sometimes leaving us wondering "how do they do it?"... It can be answered in one word for you: Teamwork!! So many wonderful people contribute their energy, inspiration, ideas, and support to the Village, and YOU CAN FEEL ALL THE LOVE! I honestly get chills talking to other instructors about their content and how certain lessons go, listening to what the kids have to say. Chills. The kind that make you feel that there is magic afoot.
It's hard to believe that we are on our second to last day of camp! This year has had a beautiful flow to it. My roles have evolved over the years, from teaching art in Village Fair to Media Literacy, though this years roles have felt extra meaningful to me. Co-leading opening and closing ceremonies as Troubador, as well as teaching Earth Connections with our exuberant newcomer Kenji. This is his first year at camp and it is very impressive how he has found his place with such ease. It makes a difference who you decide to partner with! We build each other up, bounce ideas off each other and throw information together and to present in a fun way. Coming up with songs, dressing up, being silly, offering support, communing and listening have been my "jobs" at camp this year, and my heart could not be more full. This year I feel like I have 100 new friends. Thank you to all who make this dream a reality, and connecting us to each other to the Earth and our common thread of creating inner peace, peace among and peace throughout the world.
We have now reached the mid-way point in our camp journey of 2017. Each day has been packed with new activities where we continue to learn how we can promote peace within, peace among, and peace around. This morning I was so thrilled to see my campers (the bats) arriving for another packed day of camp. Each one came with a big smile on their faces and began by eagerly asking "What are we doing today?" I always love watching them throw themselves into each activity with contagious excitement - so far today, those activities have been Village Fair, Guardians of Peace (where we played games to promote the values of the Jedi), and later this afternoon Media Literacy. While they all seem to love these activities (they all come away smiling) they all seem to enjoy traveling to the next activity since that is when they are treated to piggybacks! As one fellow counselor said to me "I never see you without a camper on your back!" It is true, I spend most of my time between classes acting the part of a horse, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Today at lunch there was an epic water fight which left many a camper and counselor soaking wet and dripping on their way to Village Fair. We have managed to beat the heat this week with the help of spray bottles and sprinklers - a favorite among all at camp. We knew that we weren't going to let a little hot weather get in our way this week (after all it is August), but instead we have turned it into endless fun and games with the spray bottles. While we have reached the middle of the week in camp, I am sure the rest of the week will be filled with even more fun and discovery than the first half of the week!
Do you remember your first day? Of school or a new job? Maybe your first day joining a club or church? Or perhaps trying a new activity, craft or sport? Your heart may be full of anticipation, your mind pulled to the furthest reach of possibles to come, and your stomach in knots over the unknown or the unpredictable.
Beginnings can be full of excitement, nervousness or unanswered questions. But, as demonstrated by some of our younger camper groups, it does not take long to find your family and comfort here at Peace Village from day 1! Today, we look to the example of the The Frogs and The Salamanders, aged 6-7 years old, who have wasted no time in creating a fun, open, and loving community within our Village. From playing name games, to sharing jokes and even building each other up in LOVE, These young peace heroes have found new ways to show love for themselves and those around them (goofy faces and silly sounds inclusive!).
During a class exercise, The Frogs and The Salamanders used positive words and actions (plus some magical tape) to build up and repair the torn "feelings" of their peers.
You are worthy.
You are so strong.
You look great today!
Can I give you a hug?
I love the way you think.
You are a good friend.
You are funny!
For many campers, teachers and volunteers this may be their first summer here at Peace Village. May we all take a note from our youngsters to harness the awesome power of positive affirmation for ourselves and our community. Reach out and remind someone why they are wonderful today! Whether its your first first day, or your 10th returning to Peace Village is a perfect place to be empowered in LOVE!
It is day 2 here at Peace Village and we are as busy as ever. Currently, campers are at their first Village Fair where they are enjoying activities that include yoga, arts and crafts, play for peace, aikido, and gumboot dancing. This morning we had our opening circle for the day where representatives of the Baha'i faith came and taught us about their beliefs and also taught us all a song in Italian! Needless to say, we are all fluent speakers now!
We also took our camp picture today, where all the campers, counselors, and teachers lined up for the camera in their fantastic Peace Village shirts (blue and green). We all proceeded to smile and wave for the camera to document this awesome 10th year of camp!
On the morning of day one, camp is always full of excitement and nervousness as every camper says goodbye to their home life and hello to camp life! We are all ready for a week full of fun, adventure, learning, and peace.
Today, in our morning staff meeting, we discussed our theme word for the day is CONNECT. Our priority, especially on day one, is to learn all of your kids' names and connect with them as we launch into a full week of Peace Village. It is fun to watch every camper transform as we play name games all together and break the ice, from hesitant to happy.
Then we moved into the gym for opening ceremony, getting to play silly games with everybody at camp and loosen up the kids, dancing together and signing together. After a quick (and yes, mom, nutritious) snack we were off to activities!
Mountain Lions sat in the shade and talked about Earth Connections--focusing on other forms of communications besides talking and understanding we can experience this with all beings on our mother Earth. Every camper was able to meditate briefly on a being they want to connect with and/or represent before making masks for our Council of Beings next time.
Moving from lunch, to a little free time to get the wiggles out, each camper gets to sign up for a village fair time. Village fair is a constantly shifting variety of activities to expose campers to wonderful hobbies while having fun and practicing peace. From field games to junkyard band, we hope we tucker those campers out a bit before afternoon snack.
Thanks so much for bringing your child here, volunteering, and just being apart of our peace community for our 10th year! There is so much excitement coming up all week, this is just a slice of day one from the Mountain Lions group, so stay tuned. :)
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