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Third Annual Interfaith Peace Camp is a safe place for kids to make friends and ask anything about other religions.

How many children realize that the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths have many beliefs in common? A five-day Interfaith Peace Camp near London, Ontario provides children from Grades one to eight the opportunity to learn about the common traditions of each faith. Children from all religious traditions are welcome.

The campers participate in similar activities to any day camp with the similar objectives of having healthy fun and making friends. Some of the activities are designed to have fun; something children of every faith already know they have in common.

Some activities are designed to demonstrate that as Jewish, Christian and Muslim children, they share Abrahamic traditions and beliefs.

Learning that another child shares many of their values, beliefs, and traditions helps children feel comfortable developing friendships with them.

Since all three religions follow, for example, the Ten Commandments and say some similar prayers the children learn that their religions are not that different. Therefore they learn that people from other faiths are not strange and different and that they can become friends.

The camp gives campers a safe place to ask anything they may wonder about the other religions. It provides them with a group of knowledgeable leaders to answer their questions. And it gives them a chance to make friends with people their age who are living the experience of a different religion. Friends made at camp often become lifelong friends.

Eastern Mennonite University’s interfaith peace camp, which was used as a model in designing the camp in Ontario.

Incorporated into the recreational and group work activities are opportunities to learn about each other’s faiths with focus on the shared values. The campers also learn about distinctive contributions all three faiths have made to Canadian Culture over time. These include contributions in the areas of art, theatre and music. They learn about these contributions by participating in them through fun, well planned camp activities.

Of course food unique to each religion’s background is shared as well.

This year this camp was hosted by King’s Western University. This was the third annual interfaith day camp, with the number of campers growing each year. The camp is co-organized by: London’s Temple Israel, the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario, and Valleyview Mennonite Church. The day camp is modeled after a program developed at the Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia.

This year the campers visited churches, mosques and synagogues including Al-Mahdi Islamic Centre, Or Shalom Congregation, and St. John the Divine Roman Catholic Church.

This Peace camp is not the place to discuss the problems of the world. It is a place to lay the groundwork for friendship and peace between people from various religions. It is a place to learn that people from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions believe in living a just life, an honest life, and a life based on worship.

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