Blessed are the Peace Campers

Michigan’s Littlefield Presbyterian Church prepares to host 21st Annual Peace Camp for kids

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

Children carry Pinwheels for Peace in the Peace Camp neighborhood parade. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Since 1998, children ages 6 to 12 have been gathering at Littlefield Presbyterian Church in Dearborn, Michigan, to work together to build peace at home, at school, in their communities and around the world.

“Children of all ages need to learn respectful, peaceful ways of resolving conflict and working together,” said Littlefield’s pastor of 22 years, the Rev. Frances Hayes, who retired May 31. “Peace Camp gives us a chance to learn peaceful ways of doing things, celebrate our neighborhood’s diversity, make new friends and have a lot of fun together.”

The 21st annual Peace Camp will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. July 16–18 at the church, 7560 Littlefield Blvd., in Dearborn. The church funds the camp, which is free to participants.

Each evening will begin with a halal meal, with children also learning songs and chants about peace and playing games. The children will make crafts such as Pinwheels for Peace, decorate Peace Camp T-shirts and construct a peaceful community from eco-friendly cardboard packing boxes. Prior to the construction project, the children talk about what they may have brought with them on their ship to an uninhabited land — items like tools, animals and seeds. They will answer questions such as “What do we need to create a sustainable, peaceful community?” They’ll also discuss “How can we work together to meet our needs for clean drinking water, land suitable for growing crops and creating fire and shelter?”

Peace Camp participants work on craft projects to take home. (Contributed photo)

“By sharing and working together, the children become more aware of what it takes to sustain a community,” said Trudy Mason McCreadie who, together with Lonnie Luzod provides key leadership for community building, discussion topics and music for Peace Camp. “While living in the church neighborhood, we would often hear the children singing ‘Peace Is the World Smiling’ or chanting ‘Stand Up for Peace, Salam, Shalom.’ I think the biggest impact I have seen has been the openness to diversity and the willingness to work as a team.”

The children gather in small groups to discuss these and other questions of peace: “What is peace to you?” “What do you do when you are angry?” “How do you feel when you are rejected or bullied in some way?” “How do you feel when you are a peacemaker?” A chalkboard “graffiti wall” gives children a place to write their feelings about issues in their lives.

For many years, former campers, ages 13 to 20, have returned as Peace Camp Youth Leaders. They serve alongside adult leaders and earn community service hours for volunteering. Many Littlefield members take part in Peace Camp as group leaders, art project coordinators, meal preparers, registration assistants and cleanup crew.

The camp concludes with a rally near the peace pole, a peace parade in the neighborhood, singing and campers and parents joining together to recite the Peace Pledge. A highlight for the campers is always sharing the newly constructed buildings found in a peaceful community. For questions about Peace Camp, call the church office at 313-933-3740 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Littlefield Presbyterian Church began as a “Sabbath School” in January 1929. The congregation was organized on Jan. 5, 1930. The congregation met at McDonald School for 10 years before moving to its present location. The church commemorated 90 years of ministry and mission this year. Littlefield’s mission is to love God, one another, and all people; and to show God’s love through peace and justice.

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