Personal change begins at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine.
Each summer, hundreds of young people engage with each other across lines of conflict and difference—sharing meals, living spaces, and learning experiences in a traditional summer camp program.
It is here that personal and interpersonal change begins, as perceptions and attitudes shift in the face of a new reality they create at Camp.
As participants find their own voices, form relationships, and gain insights into the root issues that divide them, they build greater levels of confidence, trust, respect, and empathy, which inspire their commitment to work for change at home.
Every day, campers engage each other directly in small-group dialogue sessions. Dialogue is a youth-led space where Campers explore and unpack issues around identity, power, privilege, and community, and share with a supportive group the many complex perspectives and identities that make up their different lived experiences. Youth are the experts on their own experiences, and they, as a group, lead the content of the conversation as they share their personal stories.
Facilitators are guides and are there to simply structure the process to ensure it is honest, meaningful, challenging, and trauma-informed. The purpose of dialogue is not to come to consensus or agreement, but to more deeply understand the differences that each individual brings, to listen and to be heard in all of our complexities, and to learn something new about oneself and others. Participants leave the dialogue experience with the courage, curiosity, and communication skills they need to engage others back home and throughout their lives in difficult or complex conversations and discussions.
The Group Challenge component of the Camp program complements the dialogue sessions—it is dialogue conducted in physical form, or ‘dialogue in action.’ The series of group activities reinforces trust, cooperation and communication, thus forging stronger bonds between dialogue group members and enhancing the dialogue sessions.
The program is designed to be flexible and is constantly reevaluated and adjusted to meet the needs of the young people and to best impact group dynamics as the dialogue process unfolds.
Leadership and Community Action
In addition to our dialogue program campers participate in sessions focused on leadership development and the skills for action-taking on the issues and topics they are most passionate about.
These sessions focus on communication and conflict resolution, self-awareness and personal reflection, and the skills they need to take meaningful action in their communities.
During camp there are athletic and arts activities designed to develop leadership skills, foster creative expression, and strengthen the values of respect, good communication, and action-taking across lines of conflict.
Campers engage meaningfully with peers, caring adults, and mentors of all ages who create an ecosystem of support and solidarity across lines of difference as they navigate the uncertainty, challenge, and resistance that often accompany change-making pursuits. During their time at camp, youth create traditions together that build deep and long-lasting community.
Religious and cultural events
The diversity of faiths and cultures at Seeds of Peace presents unique learning opportunities. Campers are invited to witness their peers’ religious and cultural practices first hand and engage in dialogue about our different experiences.
Religious services for various traditions take place weekly, and we also support individuals to organize services or practices during Camp.
On special nights during each session, campers share their cultural heritage and traditions with one another, while enjoying a dinner of their favorite dishes from home.
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“At Camp, I learned to listen to people, even if I don’t agree with what they say. I learned how to understand other opinions, respect them, and became more open-minded.” — Shai (Israeli)