As an alumnus of the very first Seeds of Peace Camp, I wish all the incoming Seeds this session lots of luck.
I’d also like to share some takeaways from my own experience in their shoes, back when the campgrounds were still called Camp Powhatan, in the hopes that the three weeks they spend there prove as transformational as mine were.
The most important advice that I’d give to any new Seed is to be honest and true to yourself. Don’t feel pressured to say a particular thing or change a particular viewpoint just for the sake of change alone. Honesty—both personal and intellectual—is key!
Be polite, of course, but be frank. Your goal isn’t to reprogram yourself merely through peer pressure to “fit in.” Rather, your goal is to learn, to think critically and consider the differing narratives you hear from your fellow campers; and then decide if your view is still valid, or if the authentic, new knowledge that you gained calls for your view to be modified. If you have a view that is a minority position, that’s not a problem. Give it a voice and help your fellow campers reflect the true diversity of views and life experiences that each of you bring.
If you feel that you made a good faith effort to reconsider certain things but find your views on them unchanged, that is okay, totally normal and natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. If anything, you can at least have the satisfaction of knowing that such a view was submitted to honest and informed scrutiny and passed muster successfully, and that you don’t hold it merely due to preconceived notions or received knowledge.
By the end of your time at Camp, you may find—the way I did—that Seeds of Peace will affect you in ways very different from what you had expected, or from what others in your class or who came before you had experienced. That’s normal and natural too! But no matter what you take away with you from your time with Seeds of Peace, I assure you that the experience will be tremendously useful and informative.
Have fun, but keep your thinking caps on. An honest and educated Seed is the best kind of Seed: the kind who can both earn respect and recognize when others earn it too.