At peace camp, positive energy flows like the nearby river

August 10, 2011

A little over four years ago a group of parents, friends and teachers joined together to think of a way to teach children how to create peace in a world awash with conflict.

From that initial brainstorm, the Columbia Gorge Peace Village summer camp was born.

This Monday, Aug. 8, the day camp opened again to 94 campers, who will join 24 counselors and many adult supervisors for a fun-filled week of arts, games, skill-building and deeper lessons about life.

"We have grown quite a bit since 2008. We started with just 50 campers then," said DeLona Campos-Davis, this year's village co-director and one of the camp founders.

"I think it's pretty fun," said Frances Dickinson, 9, of Hood River, as she downed homemade ice cream while whirling in a hula-hoop frenzy. "It's fun to meet a lot of new friends and do so many activities."

The camp is structured to help children, teens and adult helpers develop tangible ways to create peace in three important areas: within oneself, between people and within the world at large.

"We want to teach how to develop a peaceful heart, peaceful communities and families and a more peaceful world through peaceful practices," said Campos-Davis, who holds a degree in peace studies.

The curriculum of the camp offers a variety of practice opportunities including arts, yoga, writing, music, non-violent conflict resolution, media literacy and earth-conscious behavior. The camp is inclusive of all faith traditions and those who do not practice a faith.

One of the child-geared inventive activities at camp addresses an occasionally serious community problem - those nasty baseball bat-sized zucchinis now found in gardens everywhere. The "vegetable sculpture" zone offers campers a positive, creative solution to that growing problem.

"Just look at all these sharp pointy objects!" yelped Niko Swihart, 9, of Hood River. Swihart was thrilled to be working with sticks, knives and stick-pins used to create the veggie creations.

Meanwhile, the craft also offered the adult supervisors a chance to teach Swihart about being care-filled with things that might cause harm to others, an on-target peace lesson.

The camp has worked to develop simple, engaging activities which lead to discussions about world resources, sharing, mindfulness, working together toward goals and respecting differing ideas.

"A single activity can help a child learn ways to feel more peaceful inside themselves - while it may help another learn how to get along better with their peers," said Campos-Davis.

This year's youth counselors are almost all returnees or former campers who have grown enough to pass along their experience to others.

"This is my second year," said Patrick Sadil, a HRVHS graduate now at Reed College. "I really like being part of this."

The campers range in age from 6 to 13. At age 14, teens may apply to become junior counselors. The Mosier Community school hosts the camp each summer.

Many organizations and individuals have stepped up to support the camp's ideals. According to Campos-Davis, sponsors include: Hood River County Faith Connections and Commission on Children and Families, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, Bethel UCC, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Riverside Community Church, Gorge Ecumenical Ministries, Mount Adams Zen Buddhists, Columbia River Fellowship for Peace, Azure Standard and Hood River Sewing and Vacuum.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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