Peacebuilders Camp won’t be holding its traditional overnight camp this summer due to lingering concerns over Covid-19, but that’s not stopping us from bringing our message of peace building through human rights to youth in Americus, Georgia. We are thrilled to be debuting our first ever day camp in partnership with the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. Our opening day today was a great success, and we can’t wait to see how our campers grow and learn during the rest of the week.
The morning started with a visit with Mama Peace, a.k.a. Jeni Stepanek, who will be meeting with us each day to remind us of the message of peace that her son Mattie shared through his poetry. Building on the theme of Mattie’s poem “I Am,” campers created a mural that highlights not only who they are as individuals but as part of a community.
After a wonderful lunch generously donated by Roman Oven Pizza, a special guest joined us. Eleanor Roosevelt, traveling through time from Geneva, Switzerland in 1947, shared how her committee was at that moment working to create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Campers were able to advise Mrs. Roosevelt about what rights should be included in the UDHR, and they shared with her what problems, including racism and discrimination, remain to be solved so many years after the UDHR was written.
Next, campers worked in pairs to build communities that reflected the values and human rights they consider most important. We toured each community and saw the creative ways that rights such as housing, healthcare, education, and food were honored in each. One community relied on solar power for electricity and bicycles for transportation; one provided trained counselors in place of police to respond to mental health emergencies; all had recycling facilities. It was easy to get caught up in our campers’ vision of what a just community should look like!
Of course, there was time for fun and games, and for making new friends. We are so grateful for all the support we’re receiving from Laura Bauer and Barry McConatha of the Mattie Foundation and help from camp counselor Andarius Burton. We can already tell that exploring human rights with this group of campers and staff will be an exciting and rewarding adventure!