ANNOUNCING CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2022!
JULY 18-29, M-F 10 AM – 3 PM
SS. COLUMBA-BRIGID CHURCH, 75 HICKORY STREET, BUFFALO 14204
Our 2022 theme will be “Justice for All.” We will explore such questions as: What is Justice? What makes a person a citizen? What are our rights and responsibilities as citizens? How do we change laws that are unjust and oppressive? We will discuss different types of government that exist around the world and how different countries handle infractions to their laws. Concepts such as laws and law enforcement, civic duty, civil disobedience, the court system, culture and customs will be explored. How do we use the existing justice system productively for all people or change it if it no longer works for society?
CAMP PEACEPRINTS is a summer camp designed to introduce youth to social justice, while providing them with peaceful conflict resolution skills and exposure to a broader community. It is a two-week long alternative education program for participants ages 8 – 13, with older youth serving as Youth Assistants. Participants take weekly fieldtrips and hear from local organizers daily. The lesson plans expose them to alternatives to violence exercises, historical movements to end oppression and modern day efforts in community organizing. Music, art, theater, dance, and recreation are significant facets of the program.
Past Camp Peaceprints themes include:
2021 “Explore the World”
2020 “Let’s Talk Peace”
2019 “Discovering Diversity: An Intercultural Adventure”
2018 “The Language of Peace”
2017 “Peace Networking”
2016 “Pathways to Peace”
2015 “Unity in Community”
2014 “Peace Messaging”
2013 “Telling Our Stories of Peace”
2012 “Peace With the Earth, Peace On the Earth”
2011 “Justice and Peace in Space and Time”
2010 “Think Globally, Act Locally”
2009 “Environmental and Social Justice”
2008 “Community Building and Social Change”
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2021 “Explore the World”
Network of Religious Communities
1272 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo
Monday through Friday, July 12 – 23, 2021 from 10 AM to 3 PM
Camp Peaceprints 2021
In spite of (perhaps even as a result of!) the pandemic, we believe this was our best Camp Peaceprints in our 14-year history! Thanks to the Network of Religious Communities, Camp Peaceprints found its 2021 home at the stately edifice at 1272 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Having access to the carriage house, basement and lawn spaces made camp a fun and safe experience. We used the carriage house for morning arrivals, afternoon departures and small group workshops; the basement of the main building for opening and closing circles, workshops and lunch; and the front lawn for art, recreation, drumming and dancing!
The Camp Community
Although our total number of campers was reduced due to Covid-19 restrictions, this enabled the campers to receive individual attention and focused care. We had a total of 25 culturally diverse campers (ages 8-13) in attendance throughout the two weeks, and 8 youth/young adult assistants (over 14). Families came from a variety of Buffalo communities on the eastside and westside, refugees from Vive Shelter (a program of Jericho Road Community Health Center) and first-ring suburbs. Some were repeat campers from previous years, some came from WNY Peace Center’s PeaceJam program, some came by referrals from church groups and from programs for at-risk youth.
The success of Camp Peaceprints 2021 was in large part due to the collaboration of staff and volunteers from the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, the Interfaith Peace Network of WNY, the WNY Peace Center, The Prevention Council of Erie County, and the Foster Grandparent Program of Catholic Charities. Planning before and evaluation after camp each day provided a unity of purpose, cooperation, discussion of special needs, problem-solving, and efficient division of labor.
“Explore The World” Theme Activities and Stations
With the help of our volunteers, the campers were divided into small groups called flocks, evoking doves of peace, for more focused attention. Each flock chose a special name and a shirt color for outings. These small groups allowed for the children to rotate through stations of different activities, while also being able to have their voices better heard.
The campers explored the human family, the physical earth, and the continents and their cultures, including their own inner world, their relationships, and how we are all interconnected. Four mornings of art projects related to our theme were directed by Jan Burns of The Prevention Council of Erie County. Other activities included mindfulness practices, conversations on de-escalation and resolution of conflict, discussions of other cultures and respecting differences.
With the help of a giant world map beach ball, the various continents and cultures explored included:
the Deaf community through ASL/signing lessons as well as discussion with a teacher from St. Mary’s School for the Deaf
Antarctica with WNY Youth Climate Council
South America with the Peruvian Outreach Project
Diversity and Inclusion with Unite by Night and Daemen College students
Central America and the Garinagu people with Cynthia Ellis from Belize
Europe with American Field Service (AFS) student exchange program
Asia and Middle Eastern cultures with world-traveler Victoria Ross
Australia’s unique animal kingdom and Aboriginal people with camp co-director Vivian Waltz
African dancing and drumming with The Slyboots School of Music, Art & Dance
Campers also learned from each other’s cultures through daily interaction with participants from various communities, including African – Somalian and Congolese, Native American/Indigenous, African-American, Mexican, Bolivian, Columbian, Burmese, Congregation of Israel; Indian (from India); and White: various Eastern and Western European. Campers also represented religious diversity: Christian, Muslim and Hindu.
Field Trips: Extending “Explore the World”
Our field trips were planned to be a learning extension of our theme: exploring the natural world, from rock and soil to plant and animal life, along with looking at time and space: how our world changes and the evidence of worlds that existed before us.
At Reinstein Woods, Lor Seneca from the Haudenosaunee community started and ended our time with a Gnonyoh, a traditional opening and closing Thanksgiving Address. Lor and her daughter also shared about the terrible life at Residential Schools and the ongoing work to save Indigenous languages and medicinal plants, honoring and protecting Mother Earth and the creation for the 7th Generation.
After educating the campers about biodiversity, naturalist Leah Tyrell released dozens of endangered nine-spotted ladybugs into the forest at Reinstein Woods for repopulation and growth. She talked about newly discovered flora sentience, and the natural interconnectedness of all life.
At Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Preserve, the campers explored our local area and discovered that the imprints of brachiopods, crinoids, and trilobites were evidence of an ancient undersea environment that existed 380 million years ago! They learned about climate change and how as the environment changed, species of the region changed, too.
Swimming is always a highlight of Camp Peaceprints for our campers and this year was no different! What was different was the variety of places we enjoyed the water: twice in the pool at the Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius College, once at the splash pad at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park and once at Woodlawn Beach State Park. Many campers had never been to the beach before and playing in the sand rivaled swimming in Lake Erie for a new adventure!
For all the learning and fun, we are exceedingly grateful to the Riefler Ministry Enablement Fund of the Network of Religious Communities and the Children’s Foundation of Erie County. In short, we could not have held the camp, and not for these worthy campers, without the support of these grantors as well as the donors to the Jim and Audrey Mang Camp Peaceprints Scholarship Fund.
At Camp Peaceprints 2021, young people were privileged to “Explore the World” — to honor their differences while experiencing their connections with each other and with nature. In discovering their inner and outer world, Camp Peaceprints instilled self-confidence and equipped children to be activists for social and environmental justice throughout their lives. We continue to affirm Gandhi’s conviction, “If we are to teach real peace in this world…we shall have to begin with the children.”
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2020: “LET’S TALK PEACE”
via Zoom, Monday through Friday, July 13-24, 2020 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Camp Peaceprints 2020 was a virtual breeding ground for more inner peace, better relationships, a healing spirit, and a feeling of Beloved Community for those who participated. The 25 campers and youth assistants were buoyed up by the caring, learning, and sharing that was offered by staff, interns, special guest presenters from the community, and volunteers.
The theme of “Let’s Talk Peace” was born out of the need for all of us to establish a culture of peace with people who are different from us, especially in our current polarized political environment. We wanted to teach the children first how to find peace within themselves, and then to listen and communicate a belief in peace and justice for all people. All of this with the challenge of making distance learning fun and somehow like a camp!
Caregiver comments include, “They loved it, and always wanted to get back on…. Very interactive.” “It was a real help to us.” “It was something to stimulate their learning over the summer.” “They kept doing and talking about things from Camp after Camp was over.” Campers virtually all said they wanted Camp to last longer! Other camper comments: “It’s so much fun…” “I learned a lot about how to be kind and loving, and work for things to be better in the world.” “It helped me be more peaceful and feel good.”
Attendees included children and families that have been traumatized by recent and/or longstanding injustices in the community (some very much in the local news). Therefore, we practiced “Talking Peace to Myself” through:
mindfulness and hatha yoga;
deep slow breathing, including with repetition (also known as japa);
guided visualization and meditation;
self-esteem and self-confidence (with Lonnie Barlow of the Little Africa Cultural Center);
an understanding of self-soothing and our alert systems, also known as fight-flight-freeze;
identifying and exploring different feelings.
Good communication and “Talking Peace to Another” was fostered through
creating and abiding by a Peace Agreement with respect as the foundation;
cultivating listening skills and practicing with each other;
developing I-Messages and nonviolent communication;
learning how to be assertive (vs. aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive).
This set the stage for “Talking Peace to My Community” and frank discussions of
community and racial issues led by two insightful and expressive young black social workers – Poet Jillian Hanesworth and Shawnte Wilson;
the police and how to interact with them led by John Curr, the Regional Representative of the NYCLU and also a dad;
protest and other forms of activism and advocacy, including a reading of the book Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights.
Nonverbal communication and the arts were also vital to our shared experience, including:
American Sign Language, beautifully taught by teachers from St. Mary’s School for the Deaf;
dancing and movement – including Japanese Fan Dance, African Dance, Indian Classical, and more;
drawing and painting a community collage with stellar art teacher and counselor Jan Burns, rock painting, drawing your safe place, and making your own emoji;
creating Zen gardens, fairy garden houses, the fans used in the Japanese dance, and origami peace cranes;
making music with percussion egg shakers, and singing.
Activities were integrated too. An example is how Valentino Dixon, a local man now nationally known due to his exoneration and release after his 27 years of unjust incarceration, did a Draw and Talk with Me for the youth. (One of the campers has a dad who was unjustly incarcerated for 22 years and is still on parole.) The campers also decorated the journal they wrote in to help assimilate their learning during the course of camp, as well as Camp Peaceprints water bottles they used to stay hydrated.
As the Camp was entirely virtual, we availed ourselves of the opportunity of “Talking Peace to My World” by taking field trips to Machu Picchu, Peru, with Camp Co-Director Vivian Waltz and her daughter Rosita, a native of that part of the world; to Kenya with volunteer Kawiye Jamale, originally from there; and – with Co-Director Vicki Ross – to Afghanistan with the Afghan Peace Volunteers; India, and Nepal. The experiential learning of this cultural smorgasbord was buttressed by a presentation on World Religions and their universal teaching of the Golden Rule, all by a young Masters graduate of Union Theological Seminary.
Camp hours and structure were determined by safety (first) as well as in conjunction with preferences expressed by parents in a survey done by Say Yes for their summer camps. Parents wanted a virtual camp, to run no more than two or three hours, and only expected their children to attend 3-4 times per week. Camp Peaceprints ran 1:30-3:30 M-F, July 13-24.
Campers also received supply bags for all the activities mentioned above, especially the art supplies, as well as percussion shakers and yes – a wide assortment of snacks!! All the families really appreciated this.
A champion of nonviolence, Congressman John Lewis passed away on the first Friday of camp. Remembering his life’s work for the advancement of civil rights, campers were inspired to honor their differences while embracing their common humanity.
Camp Peaceprints is a program that fosters security, in every sense of the word – it is creating more stability in the lives of our children and youth, along with self-confidence and wellbeing which will help them create more peace through justice in our communities. “Let’s Talk Peace” empowered them to be activists for human rights, equality, and true nonviolence throughout their lives. As Gandhi said, “If we want to have a lasting peace, we must start with the children.”
Vivian Waltz, Director of the Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence / 716.893.0808 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Ross, Executive Director of the WNY Peace Center, and Peaceful Conflict Resolution Consultant for the Interfaith Peace Network / 716.931.3520 / email@example.com
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2019: “DISCOVERING DIVERSITY: AN INTERCULTURAL ADVENTURE”
St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, 2253 Main Street, Buffalo
Monday through Friday, July 15 – 26, 2019 from 10 AM to 3 PM
Camp Peaceprints was a successful and fun adventure this year! There were a total of 37 culturally diverse campers (ages 8-13) in attendance, and 11 youth assistants (over 14). Very few of our campers had to pay the full cost of the camp thanks to the Riefler Ministry Enablement Fund grant and generous donors to the Jim and Audrey Mang Camp Peaceprints Scholarship Fund, which enabled us to deliver the camp to those most in need. We had rave reviews from the campers, born out by a growing number of repeat campers and referrals from camper families, sharing their experience and recommendations with their families and friends.
This success was in part due to the collaboration of staff and volunteers from the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, the Interfaith Peace Network of WNY, the WNY Peace Center, Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Young Neighbors in Action of the Roman Catholic Center for Ministry Development, and the Foster Grandparent Program of Catholic Charities.
As a camp, the children were able to learn and play through activities focused on diversity and nonviolence. Some of these exercises included sign language lessons, conversations on de-escalation of conflict, mindfulness practices, and discussions of other cultures and respecting others.
The various cultures explored included:
· the Deaf community through ASL/signing lessons as well as discussion with teachers and students from St. Mary’s School for the Deaf;
· the Yemeni community through the Arab-American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) of WNY Summer Enrichment Program bringing their students and teachers to visit us at Camp Peaceprints as their field trip. The groups spent the whole day together – making group art murals, learning about the Afghan Peace Volunteers and US foreign policies, and writing to our congressional representatives, as well as learning ASL/signing, playing, and eating together!;
· further learning about the Afghan community through joining in on a Global Days of Listening call with the Afghan Peace Volunteers – yes, actually speaking with them – for those who were able to participate over the weekend;
· the Haudenosaunee Native American community through starting and ending with a Gnonyoh (traditional opening and closing Thanksgiving Address) as well as one of the stations being offered by Haudenosaunee Jocelyn Jones on dances and ceremonies; and
· the flora (and fauna) communities through learning about the environment, biodiversity, newly discovered flora sentience, and the natural interconnectedness through a presentation by Ilyas Khan, the youth leader of the Buffalo Youth Climate Strike.
Campers also learned from each other’s cultures through daily interaction with participants from various communities, including African – Congalese and Rwandan; African-American; Argentinian/Pakistani; Bolivian; Burmese; Congregation of Israel; Indian (from India); Muslim; White: various Eastern & Western European; and more.
One of the most fun parts of camp is our swimming excursions. While encouraging fitness, swimming is a tremendous lesson to the youth in facing one’s fears, building trust, perseverance, goal-setting, and achievement.
We took the campers on two field trips. The first, to the Albright Knox Art Museum, exposed the children to diverse artists and their works centered on culture, and especially refugees, immigrants, and prisoners. The second trip was to Buffalo’s City Hall, which continued on to the Outer Harbor and Tiffts Nature Preserve. When meeting with the Mayor, the children were encouraged to speak their minds – asking him questions, as well as giving him their opinions of what is needed in the community.
Camp Peaceprints campers also held a rally in Niagara Square to advocate for other children: “Families Belong Together.” This experience, and preparation therefore, further encouraged the children to focus on immigration issues and what families around the world face both at home and in trying to find refuge to survive. The embracing of our common humanity was very clear.
Each year, Camp Peaceprints teaches area youth peaceful conflict resolution, social responsibility, and community organizing. We explore the need for acceptance of and friendship with people of different cultures, and respect for and love of our natural environment. Camp Peaceprints this year was truly an intercultural adventure! As Gandhi said, “If we want to have a lasting peace, we must start with the children.” Camp Peaceprints continues to follow this path, and we are truly grateful to all who made it all possible.
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2018 “THE LANGUAGE OF PEACE”
Camp Peaceprints 2018 “The Language of Peace”
Children and youth, all 56 of them – as well as adult volunteers – had an intensive experience of the Language of Peace over the two week period of Camp Peaceprints at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in July. Sponsored by the Interfaith Peace Network, the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, and the WNY Peace Center, our campers aged 8-13; youth assistants aged 14 and up; and adults (including parent volunteers, community helpers, interns, adult leaders of the Young Neighbors in Action groups, staff of St. Mary’s School for the Deaf and Foster Grandparents from the Catholic Charities program) – all learned about the Language of Peace through education, inspiration, and action.
Our education, inspiration, and action in the Language of Peace included:
· Four sessions of instruction in American Sign Language. Instructors included both students and faculty of St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, as well as the Superintendent of the entire establishment, Timothy M. Kelly. We learned and connected to both the beautifully expressive language and the wonderful St. Mary’s community as never before!
· Study of the peace quilts with symbols and images used by enslaved people and fugitives to communicate information about how to escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad, and creating our own quilt through an exceptional art project designed and facilitated by our faithful art director Janice Burns, MSEd, CPP, artist and art instructor. The project prepared us for our visit to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, an experiential museum that reveals authentic stories of freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls. Their mission is to “inspire visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and to take action toward an equitable society.” We were inspired!
· Four small-group sessions facilitated by UB School of Social Work intern at the WNY Peace Center, Stacey L. Smith, on communication techniques that included role plays, discussion, fun worksheets, games and home replays of concepts explored, including I-statements and other nonviolent communication techniques;
· Understanding the language of our own bodies through yoga, deep slow breathing, and other ways to communicate with and calm ourselves through mindfulness and self-awareness (facilitated by Camp Co-Director Victoria Ross);
· Communication through art by creating Artists Cards delivered to Mayor Byron Brown on our trip to City Hall, with campers expressing their thoughts, feelings and ideas for improvements in the City, painting campers’ interpretations of the language of peace on canvasses and jewelry creations (all facilitated by Jan Burns), likewise through thank-you cards for donors, helpers, and each other (facilitated by Co-Director Vivian Waltz);
· Working through our group and interpersonal communication throughout Camp, through
o upholding the Peace Agreement (composed and affirmed by the whole Camp);
o recreation and activities organized by the Young Neighbors in Action, brought to us the first week from Chicago and the second week from New Hampshire by Dennis Mahaney of the Buffalo Diocese and the Catholic Center for Ministry Development, whose mission is to help youth encounter Christ through a week-long experience of service, community, and prayer;
o swimming in the sunshine in Buffalo Public Pools, with campers and youth facing fears, working together, learning, and moving forward both literally and metaphorically;
· Communing with nature through walking the paths of Tiffts Nature Preserve, lunching by Lake Erie, and experiencing one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls, up close on the Maid of the Mist, compliments of James and Mary Glynn, longtime supporters of the SSJ Sister Karen Center. Even the camper whose mother said she would never ride on a boat did not want to miss out – she faced her fears and joined us, with the courage of community to back her up.
Campers were inspired by all our experiences together as evidenced by their enthusiasm for Camp and for each other. Goodbyes were tearful, as usual, and buttressed by plans to keep in touch and return to camp next year. Expressions of the Language of Peace were being communicated throughout in tangible and heartfelt ways, as Camp Peaceprints once again created Beloved – and diverse – Community and a Culture of Peace.
The Interfaith Peace Network, the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, and the WNY Peace Center couldn’t be more grateful to Camp Peaceprints’ funders, supporters, transporters (including especially NFTA for both field trips!), volunteers, participants, and well-wishers. The Camp Peaceprints community is sure to be practicing the Language of Peace in the future – may the expressions and actions create real change by speaking peace to our troubled world!
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2017 “Peace Networking”
Camp Peaceprints 2017
“Peace Networking After 150 Years”
St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, July 17 – 28, 2017
We had a wonderful tenth annual Camp Peaceprints, through the Interfaith Peace Network, the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, and the WNY Peace Center. The Camp, for youth ages 8 to 13, was our best yet, with 58 youth altogether, including five under the 8-year camper age limit. As we build the Beloved Community, the needs of the community take precedence. Thus we allowed siblings and refugees with a real need to be included to come on in and be part of the Camp – we are Family!
The campers and youth assistants came from Buffalo and Burma; from Senegal and Sturbridge MA; Tibet and the Congo (via most of South America); and from Nepal and New Hampshire – the varied backgrounds and experiences, races and ethnicities, ages and stages made it a rewarding time for all. Tears at camps’ end were accompanied by campers’ saying they can hardly wait to come back again next year!! (Only 15 had been to Camp Peaceprints previously; we have not had more than 1/3 repeat campers, to further spread the message.) Some comments from various campers:
· I love camp … It is fun! You get to meet lots of other people.
· On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 10.
· Camp calms me down!
· It is a good experience for children and everyone … (from a Youth Assistant)
Our Interfaith theme was well covered by speakers who shared key faith traditions and life ways.
· Iris Hill, Haudenasaunee and Lakota, a former Camper;
· Bhante Chipamung, a Hinayana Buddhist Monk;
· Imam Yahye Omar, a Muslim Imam originally from Somalia;
· Dr. Sucharita Paul, Hindu from Tonawanda and doctor at ECMC Emergency Room!
The children and youth also learned a tremendous amount from
· Jan Burns, art teacher, youth facilitator, and activist (Director of Focus on Consequences program of ECCPASA), who ran our Art program;
· Dior Lindsey, social worker, Peace Education Taskforce Co-Chair, and WNYPC Board Member;
· Kareema Morris, facilitator of Bury the Violence;
· June Licence, Administrator of the Interfaith Peace Network and Riverside Salem UCC;
· Eve Everette, Assistant Director of Buffalo State’s Anne Frank Project;
· karima amin, Storyteller and Founder and Co-Chair of Prisoners Are People Too!
· The adult advisors/group leaders of the two Young Neighbor In Action youth groups that came from Sturbridge, MA and New Hampshire respectively;
· The Foster Grandparents program of Catholic Charities.
Through it all, it was fulfilling and fun, with swimming (5 times); field trips (to Grand Island’s Riverside-Salem UCC and Beaver Island State Park; as well as visiting – and sharing suggestions with – Mayor Brown; and exploring Tifft Nature Preserve); cooperative games; and peaceful conflict resolutions throughout.
Many thanks to support from
· St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, host;
· The Network of Religious Communities and its Riefler Fund;
· The Peace Education Fund;
· The Lifesavers, youth group of the Stop The Violence Coalition, and advisors Shantela Woods and Camille Williams;
· The Joan Droit Camp Peaceprints Fund of Riverside Salem UCC;
· The Jim and Audrey Mang Camp Peaceprints Scholarship Fund;
· The Canisius College Athletics Program;
· The Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates of Buffalo;
· You reading this – many of whom contributed through memberships at or donations to the Interfaith Peace Network, the SSJ Sr. Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, and/or the WNY Peace Center.
The camp got together – as we always have – with children and youth from St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, and we all learned some American Sign Language. It is always a high point of Camp – with immediate and strong connections made. So much so that this year, we resolved that we’ll explore full program integration next year. It’ll probably be our best camp yet! Again, many thanks to all for making it all possible!!
Peace and Love from Co-Directors
Rev. Vivian Waltz
Director, SSJ Sr. Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence
Victoria – Vicki – Ross, QCSW, LMSW, MALD
Exec Dir, WNY Peace Center
Consultant, Interfaith Peace Network
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2016 “Pathways to Peace”
St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, 2253 Main Street, Buffalo July 18 – 29, 2016
The ninth annual Camp Peaceprints, put together by the Interfaith Peace Network, the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, and the WNY Peace Center, was a rousing success. The Camp, for youth ages 8 to 13, provided exposure to a diverse community while introducing and exploring communication, social justice issues, and peaceful conflict resolution. Our focus on “Pathways to Peace” – or the various religionsand life-ways – was very well-received and fruitful. It was our best camp yet!
Some 50 children and youth attended the camp, both as campers and youth assistants. Their feedback included that they“liked” or “loved” the Camp, learned “how to get along with each other,” and wished that “Camp would last forever.” One of the moms said, “It was a very enriching experience for the kids. They learned so much, especially from the sign language, and being around other cultures. They were very excited every day and would go again in a minute!”
Nurturing male role models were a particular strength of the camp this year. Our first group of Young Neighbors in Action (coming all the way from the Diocese of Sacramento, California!) were all young men, with two wonderful male advisors. They were called upon to nurture the campers, and to be models of gentleness and peaceful conflict resolution. Their tremendous success in and great appreciation for such a role, in this fairly “macho” society, was exciting to campers and staff alike, and encouraged similar behavior, especially in the boy campers. Positive male role-modeling was further accentuated by the two volunteers who came as part of the Foster Grandparent Program of Catholic Charities.
This year’s special focus on pathways to peace included learning about and celebrating different faith traditions and their common themes of peace, justice, sharing, and love. Indigenous life-ways, the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and Eastern faiths (Hinduism and Buddhism), were all covered by wonderful guest presenters – activists and artists from the Buffalo area.
We began camp with a welcome and traditional thanks-giving from an Indigenous (Tuskaroran) woman, Jill Yagwaneest Clause. Our guest speakers also included a young Muslim film-maker and activist, an Episcopalian priest, a City Commissioner, an Imam, and a Buddhist monk- all peaceful, gentle, and accessible men. The strength of a compassionate nature was emphasized by all.
Our art projects were once again led by Janice Burns, artist, art teacher, and director of the Motivational Counseling program of ECCPASA (Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse). They included gift bags for homeless people that were left at the Homeless Jesus statue near St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral on our second week’s field trip. We also created artworks made of and left in nature at Tifft Nature Preserve on our first week’s field trip. A giant colorful Peace Dove was fashioned of puzzle pieces decorated with symbols and words representing what each camper had learned at Camp Peaceprints.
Our field trip to a local mosque was covered by Channel 4 for working for interfaith appreciation and against Islamophobia. Back at the school, students from St. Mary’s taught us some American Sign Language. The intensity of affection, and determination to cross the language barrier to communicate, was powerful. We all learned to sign our first name and words for family members. St. Mary’s students also joined us in a drum circle.
Our youth assistants from Young Neighbors in Action for the second week were young Catholic women from Milford, Massachusetts. They took over smoothly from our first group of young men from California, leading the campers in games and recreation, including swimming at Buffalo State College. Throughout the two weeks, adult volunteer Deidra EmEl was a calming presence and a big help with the camp program.
Campers learned and practiced listening, expressing themselves, cooperating, dealing with feelings, and problem-solving. At Camp Peaceprints 2016 creativity was encouraged and celebrated, and Nonviolence was explored in real and powerful ways. As we sang in the Peaceprints song, we learned together to “follow the way of love.”
Many thanks to the Network of Religious Communities, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, the Center for Ministry Development and local coordinator Dennis Mahaney, WAVE (Women Against Violence Everywhere), St. Columba-Brigid RCC, the Presbytery of WNY, University Presbyterian Church, the Peace Education Fund, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and all others who gave of their resources to make Camp Peaceprints 2016 a life-changing experience for all!
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2015 “UNITY IN COMMUNITY”
Camp Peaceprints had its best year yet in 2015! “Unity in Community” was our theme for our second year at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. We served almost 50 youth who were enthusiastic and eager to learn about and practice being a community guided by peace and nonviolence.
· Our diverse staff included dynamic members of WAVE (Women Against Violence Everywhere) who mentored and taught the youth and whose work in the inner city made our staff team even easier for campers to relate to. Other collaborators were the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, the Interfaith Peace Network, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, the SSJ Sr. Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, St. Columba-Brigid RCC, Veterans for Peace, and the WNY Peace Center.
· Our great group of youth assistants included Young Neighbors in Action teams from New Hampshire and Wisconsin; our 2nd-year UB School of Social Work Intern, Alessandra Waylon; young women from TRY (Teaching and Restoring Youth); and a few very gifted young men from Buffalo Public high schools.
· Our increased diversity also included four Foster Grandparents from the Catholic Charities program who were wonderful supporters and mentors for the children and youth.
· The shorter day – 10am to 3pm – enabled the youth (and the adults!) to be fresh and rested each day, and to bring greater intensity to the Camp time.
· Increased swimming time (4 one-hour sessions at the Canisius College pool) allowed campers to build self-confidence by overcoming their fears, and fostered trust and a feeling of community.
· The rotating station format gave an intimate experience to the campers as they learned in small groups from the speakers, artists, activists, and teachers who graced the camp.
· Activities included yoga; trust-building, communication, and conflict resolution exercises; exploring nonviolence, history, current events (particularly nuclear issues and human rights), and social change; submitting our ideas about our neighborhoods’ needs to the Mayor; singing the “Peaceprints”song; creating lively drumming circles; and enjoying outdoor recreation in the sunshine.
· We learned from the Peaceprints Prison Ministry how important it is to reach out for the help we need to heal from hurts and be our best selves, and decorated bags for their Holiday Gift Bag Project.
· Our Art Project was a tremendous experience all by itself, with children sharing themselves and their skills on pieces that became part of an intricate, unified mandala design; later put on blue fabric representing the one blue sky above us – a reminder of the peace we want under it – and surrounded by our peaceprints and expressions of our hopes, dreams, and deepest feelings for a better world for us all.
· Field trips were
o in and around the Tri-Main Center– to the Brewster Street Urban Farm; the People’s Park with storytelling from Karima Amin and crafts with Aspire (joining with people with developmental disabilities); Buffalo Arts Studio and their mural project, and found-objects artist and author Betty Leader; and a stop at Landies Candies where they kindly offered free samples to the whole camp!
o to the Erie Basin Marina and Canalside, where we enjoyed the new environment, shared lunch and ice cream, and got tours from the Buffalo History Museum and Buffalo State College’s Maritime Center.
Jan Burns, who plans and delivers the wonderful art projects for Camp Peaceprints every year, was at Camp for our Community and Family Potluck Celebration on the night before the last day of Camp, and brought her elderly mother who helped with our finishing the mandala. The next day, Jan called to say her mother passed away that morning. It was very touching and a very real reminder – both of how beautiful and constant a life of service can be, and how quickly and unexpectedly our time here on this earth can end. It makes it even more obvious how we need to love each other and use our time well. The campers learned many great lessons about the gift of Unity in building our Beloved Community, as we all did.
CAMP PEACEPRINTS 2014 “PEACE MESSAGING”
(See News and Events page for report.)