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A Peace Camp Inspired Mantra for Peaceful Living

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Last week we hosted our annual Peace Camp at Woodberry Crossing where 37 children spent their days swimming, learning about their interconnectedness with the environment, making new friends, enjoying snacks, laughing, running, and practicing how to be peacemakers.

Yet, children are not necessarily born knowing how to be peaceful and kind with each other. So, being at Peace Camp is one of the ways we can show them through words, deeds and stories how to be peacemakers.

To do this, our team has identified six developmental concepts to teach peaceful living.  They are:

  • I Like Myself
  • I’m A Good Friend
  • I Help Others In Need
  • I Treat Animals Kindly
  • I Help Take Care Of The Earth
  • I Solve Differences With Words Teamwork, And Patience

Each day at Camp, we used these developmentally appropriate concepts to discuss what it means for the kids to be peaceful with themselves as individuals, with each other, with their natural environment, and with the global community.  As I watched these curious campers learn and interact, I did a private audit of my own life to see if I always follow these concepts too.  After all, how can we expect children to be peacemakers if we adults don’t model liking ourselves through self-care, being helpful and kind to our own friends, being good Samaritans, treating all animals, wild and domestic, kindly, acting as stewards of our Earth, and being progressive and nonviolent conflict resolvers?

I’ve put an electronic sticky note on my laptop with these concepts. Every morning, when I open up my computer, I read this mantra and put it at the center of my intention for the day.  When hectic life events draw you into autopilot responses, it’s helpful to have these peacemaking concepts in your back pocket. This past weekend, my family drove up I-95 to start our family vacation. It was 95F degrees, the kids were cranky, I was mad at myself for not bringing enough snacks, traffic was awful…so I closed my eyes and started at the beginning: “I like myself, I’m a good friend…I help others in need…”

Shelly Clay-Robison has served on the PSC Board since 2010 and is also the Center’s Co-Director.  Shelly’s career has been in international humanitarian and human rights advocacy and activism and much of her work has been in writing, research, and communications.  She also has experience in cross-cultural education work in Australia and Dominica.  Shelly has a B.A. in anthropology from American University and a graduate certificate in Conflict Transformation from the University of North Florida where she researched and co-wrote a paper titled, “Peace Education in Children’s Literature,” presented at the AERA annual conference. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Negotiations and Conflict Management from the University of Baltimore.  

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