Camp PEACEPRINTS was held July 12-23, 2010. Another World is Possible
Camp Peaceprints had another great year – better than ever. The wonderfully diverse group of more than 40 children and youth involved over the two-week period, both campers and youth assistants, showed real commitment to each other and to trying to “be the change they want to see in the world” (Gandhi). Through camp co-directors Vivian Waltz, Director of the SSJ Sister Karen Klimczak Center for Nonviolence, and Victoria Ross, Peaceful Conflict Resolution Specialist, everyone involved in Camp Peaceprints 2010 grew in the knowledge and practice of nonviolence that the Center promotes. Over the course of camp - the work and the play, the Peace Agreements made and explored, the Peace Tools discovered and practiced, the Alternatives to Violence Project games and exercises experienced, the speakers heard and field trips gone on, the conflicts peacefully resolved – Camp Peaceprints truly became a beloved community and a hope for the future.
The themes of Think Globally the first week, and Act Locally the second week, were reflected in the speakers, art projects, and field trips the campers experienced. Agnes Williams, Seneca, from Indigenous Women’s Initiatives and Native American Community Services, inspired with stories of the Haudenosaunee about Creation and the world as well as our roles in caring for it; and Jill Hambee and her wonderful children came down from the Tuskarora Nation to join Dinah Porter, NACS, in sharing their local experiences, the ways they learn about their clans, and why they stand up for the rights of all. We all gained new insights into an indigenous perspective.
Karima Amin, storyteller, drummer, teacher, mentor, and community pillar extraordinaire (founder of Prisoners Are People Too and co-chair of Erie County Prisoners Rights Coalition), told a number of high impact stories about the artificial boundaries and fears that keep us apart. She also imparted the kind of energy that will put a spring in our steps for a long time to come.
Kelly Cooper came from Journeys End to help us understand what refugees and immigrants go through, and their role in Buffalo, invigorating our city and giving it new hope. As citizens of Buffalo with approximately a quarter of the children and youth in the camp coming from other countries (Bolivia, Eritrea, Haiti, Nepal, Rwanda/Kenya/Togo), this was a very important piece for us all.
During Week 1 we were also privileged to have Young Neighbors in Action with us for the second year. This year as last year the youth came all the way from Massachusetts to help us with Camp Peaceprints as their service learning project, culminating their year as a parish youth group following social teachings. That they are Roamin’ Catholics should be apparent! They were so caring and connecting, it was hard to let them go at the end of the week. They remain part of our Beloved Community.
We also learned a lot during the field trips. Week 1’s trip to Forest Lawn was filled with history and imagery - symbols of love, remembrance, and hope. Week 2 brought our annual visit with Mayor Byron Brown, with questions and suggestions from the campers evidencing real insight on local issues. They made us proud. Then on to the Colored Musicians Club, where President, bandleader, and terrific sax player George Scott shared the impressive history and exciting prospects of the Club and its soon-to-be-realized interactive museum, as well as letting us jam with him on the (David Granville) song Peaceprints. What fun! Our last stop was the Michigan St Baptist Church, where Bishop William Henderson showed us where slaves stayed and were cared for on this, their last stop on the Underground Railroad, on the road to Freedom. The moments of silence we spent in their memory were uplifting.
Our volunteers and staff also shared awesome gifts with us. Enthusiastic Ellen Moomaw modeled and educated about recycling; Jazzy Jan Burns (of ECCPASA) led art exercises and projects (including contributions to the national Empty Bowls project, sponsored by Buffalo State College locally); Blissful Bekah Starr taught yoga; Smiling Sarah Gallo facilitated improved identification of our feelings; and Karibu Kate Mang offered up whatever seemed needed at the time. We are also grateful to Cowboy Charley Bowman and Friendly Frank Gage who faithfully brought children, parents, or whoever and whatever was missing. Sincere thanks are also due to the St. Margaret’s School for kindly sharing their ideal facility, and to St. Columba-Brigid Church for generously lending their van.
Last but not least, The Riefler Foundation, the Presbytery of Western New York, University Presbyterian, North Presbyterian, and numerous big-hearted and benevolent individuals provided the funding that enabled scholarships for many of our campers who couldn’t have come otherwise.
Without the support and commitment of so many, Camp Peaceprints would not have been possible. With it, another better world is possible. Nonviolence begins with us, and we’ll keep learning how to leave and spread peaceprints individually and collectively. Thanks to the larger and inclusive Camp Peaceprints community.
Victoria B. Ross, QCSW, LMSW, MSW, MALD
Peaceful Conflict Resolution specialist