Peace Camp is an initiative housed in the MSCU Center for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College. The 2016 Directing team is made up of Kaitlyn Skelly, a current University of Waterloo student going into her 4th year of Speech Communication and Peace and Conflict Studies and Rebekah DeJong, a recent University of Waterloo Alumni of Peace and Conflict Studies.
The Peace Camp Team is happy to share that we have completed another successful workshop season! The Peace Camp 2016 season resulted in 101 peace education presentations facilitated at 30 different schools across the region, reaching an estimated 3235 students. Throughout the hour long workshops Rebekah and I had the chance to work with youth in elementary schools ranging from Grade 3 to Grade 8. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore ideas of social justice and peace building with youth and to empower students to use their abilities to have a positive impact on their communities.
Our activities ranged from Peace Postcards that became random acts of kindness to team building activities that challenged participants to complete a bridge building task without verbal communication. Junior students experienced a Circle Process that explored the impact our words have on the feelings of those who hear them. Intermediate students tried their hand at conflict analysis to understand the root causes of problems and create solutions that turn conflict into a peace building opportunities. These activates highlighted the workshop participant’s peace building skills and demonstrated how each individual is capable of being peace builders in our communities.
We loved seeing students experience “aha!” moments when ideas and concepts we were discussing clicked for them, especially when talking about how we can apply peace building to our everyday lives. It was exciting to witness the creative ideas students had to solve problems, express themselves and the depth of understanding for peace and compassion they demonstrated in our sessions.
Students we worked with were enthusiastic and engaged with the topics of social justice and peace building. In our feedback from teachers we were told that,
“the students were highly receptive and reflective based upon the ideas discussed”
and that they were impressed with the level of engagement their students showed while participating in the workshop. Another teacher said that “the message is positive and important and having it come from young adults is great”. Educators were pleased with the connections their students could make with local university students, “Thank you, so impressed with the many programs coming out of the University of Waterloo”. Rebekah and I are glad to hear about the positive impact this program has had on students and are grateful to the educators who welcomed us into their classrooms.
Throughout the 2016 workshop season one of the questions students ask us most often was “Is there a real Peace Camp in the summer?”, and the answer is YES! We have a week long day camp in August for youth ages 11-14. The camp is located on the University of Waterloo Campus at Conrad Grebel University College. This summer’s theme is ‘Peace In Action’ and the goal is to show campers that whatever their interests may be, whether it is art, music, math, engineering, business or even fashion, be they can use them to pursue peace. Registration is still open and we have a few more spots available.