Seeds of Peace

Every summer, children from conflict regions all over the world come together on a lake in Otisfield, Maine, USA. They come to join a camp called Seeds of Peace. The main goal of Seeds of Peace is to “give rise to new generations of leaders uniquely inspired and equipped to build lasting peace.” This summer the camp hosted 92 campers from Israel and Palestine. The participated in diagloue sessions to replace anger with leadership skills to advance peaceful progress in conflict regions.

Watch this video to learn more about the campers this summer:

Seeds of Peace was founded by award-winning author and journalist, John Wallach, in 1993. That summer, a group of 46 Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, and American teenagers inaugurate the Camp. The Seeds are then President Clinton’s invited guests to the historic signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.

On September 22, 2014, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at Cooper Union college in New York City, New York, USA. “To those who say peace between Israelis and Palestinians is impossible, I say, let them visit America. I say, let them visit Maine,” he told the audience. “In Maine every summer, young Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, Arabs, and others meet in a camp called Seeds of Peace, founded in 1993. They build the very world I am calling for in Palestine. It works. It is real. It is the future.” Read his full speech here:

Part of the reason I think that this camp is so successful is because it is held on neutral ground. If this camp was held in either Israel or Palestine it may not be as effective, because either side may not feel as safe or protected to say what they want. By having this camp in Maine, either side is free to say their beliefs and talk in a peaceful way.

3-1_seedsofpeaceSeeds of Peace states their values as, “Our Seeds and Educators are at the heart of everything we do, as it is their realities and futures that are most affected by the conflicts that define their lives. They hold a wide range of beliefs and opinions on how to end the conflicts within and between their societies. Their common ground, however, is the belief in and commitment to dialogue and informed leadership as the basis for meaningful change and the most effective tools in the pursuit of peace.”

I think that what they are doing at this camp is powerful and meaningful to not only the children that are able to come and participate in it, but to the Americans as well. They learn how complicated this topic is and how difficult it is to come to a resolution.

What do you think? Do you think that this camp should be held in the United States or another neutral ground or in the conflict ridden areas? Do you think the camps are successful or not? Check out my friend Jess Carnprobst’s post on Peace Camps in the Middle East too!!

9 thoughts on “Seeds of Peace

  1. Nice find, Marissa! I had no clue this existed. Main stream media reports the Israel-Palestine conflict, but rarely does successful interactions like this make the headline news. I wonder once the Palestinian and Israeli participants return home, if their views toward the other changes or remains the same as it did in Maine? I definitely think the “neutral” region helps both sides because it promotes an environment conducive to equal sharing and learning. I also wonder if many Israeli’s and Palestinians support these young individual’s journey to this camp? Since Israeli’s and Palestinian have not always had the greatest relationship, I would imagine some are not very encouraging when it comes to this type of camp.

  2. Wow, this is so cool! This is an amazing opportunity for the youths of different cultures can sit down and talk about real issues and how it affects them. I agree that the reason this camp is successful is because of the neutral ground it is held on. I don’t think it would have the same positive effects if it were held somewhere else.

  3. Very interesting post. This led me thinking about how much it affected their life after leaving. It goes to show what really does influence and spark a lot of the conflict going on between both sides. I’m sure there are many in favor of this camp but also many who are not encouraging towards it. The neutral ground really is the main factor of keeping things neutral and I would be interested to read about this happening in other areas.

  4. This was really cool to read about and I definitely can relate because I’ve gone to peace camp before. I’m sure the impact these campers leave with are very influential because of how serious the conflict they are faced with at home. Peace camps can be so comforting to be in because the camp is usually a safe place where everyone is open with each other, and since this camp is also on a neutral land for both of them, it probably feels extra welcoming there. I’m glad i read this and got to learn that a place like this exist for kids!

  5. This is such a great initiative! It gives me hope that maybe future generations will be able to resolve the conflicts that past generations have struggled with for so long. I believe that any program like this can only aid in bringing peace and understanding, and it is such a nice change of pace to read about something positive happening in the midst of all the conflict.

  6. This is one of those posts that sort of restores your faith in humanity and that’s awesome! So, thanks for writing it! I honestly had no clue this existed and find it really interesting. However, I wonder what the qualifications have to be in order to Beatle to be a part of the camp including faculty and staff requirements.

  7. What a great camp! I can’t help but wonder if teaching the youth about peace and leadership, especially Palestinian’s and Israeli’s, will in turn alter their families views on the conflict. The quote from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was so powerful. I love that this camp is based out of America, because it demonstrates how we here in the states can have an impact on those facing conflicts in other regions around the word. Great topic!

  8. I love this idea! I think it’s great that we are encouraging students to learn about and how to organize peace, both domestically and internationally. I think these camps are a great opportunity for students, however I wonder, of the students that came from overseas, most of them had to be from well-off families I would assume. Are there any scholarships for this camp to provide for students who don’t have money to come to the U.S. on their own?

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