About 10 children are busy this week taking part in the Peace Camp being conducted at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Tunkhannock.
On Monday, the kids started the day, tapping their heads and faces.
Camp director Rodrigo ‘Popi’ Gereda of Wilkes-Barre explained that although the activity is presented as a game, it actually provides children a tool to calm them down.
“It allows them to work through problems,” Gereda explained. “By presenting it as a game, it teaches them how to deal with certain critical situations without having to think about it.”
This is the seventh year St. Peter’s has hosted a Peace Camp, which will conclude Thursday.
The primary purpose of the camp, he said, is to teach kids how to deal with various challenges.
“Life has grown so complicated over the years,” he said. “The camp helps kids build their confidence. A lot of them are overwhelmed by what they have to deal with. So it gives them time to catch their breath.
There is plenty to do at the Peace Camp, including participating in the drum circle conducted by Al Cabral of Falls.
“I’m a drum circle facilitator,” Cabral explained.
For the past 15 years, Cabral explained, he has conducted drum circles. Not only does the activity give the children a taste of performing on the drums, it also shows them importance of learning how to play and communicate with each other.
In another activity, kids go outside and explore their creative abilities by doing chalk drawings of various scenes on the sidewalks.
The purpose of the Peace Camp is to provide children with methods on how to deal situations which often arise in real life.
“Throughout the week, we’ll be building up their self-confidence,” Gereda explained. “We’re going to be putting on a play on how to deal with a bully. The kids have fun doing it, but it also teaches them how to manage such situations.”
The kids also participate in an exercise which teaches them techniques on how to avoid being coerced into doing something wrong.
“We show them how to get out of something when they know it is wrong,” Gereda said. “A face-saving way to get out of it.”
Each participant puts together a little journal during the camp, recording his or her thoughts.
“They explain why they are grateful for certain things,” he said.
St. Peter’s pastor Lou Divis explained that this is the sixth year the Peace Camp has been held at the church.
“I read about it in Wilkes-Barre, and contacted Popi about running a Peace Camp here,” she said.
For the past five years, Divis explained, the camp has been financed by the Tunkhannock Rotary Club.
“The camp promotes peace the same way the Rotary does,” she said.
Children do not have to be a member of St. Peter’s in order to participate at the camp.
“The kids absolutely love it,” Divis said about the camp. “The staff is absolutely terrific.”
Several speakers gave talks to participants on various subjects throughout the week. On Monday, Tunkhannock Area School District drug educator Cammie Anderson spoke about the district’s D.A.R.E. Program. Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell is scheduled to conduct a ‘walk and talk’ at Lazybrook Park on Thursday.
Michael Sembrot, 10, of Tunkhannock, has been participating at the Peace Camp at St. Peter’s for the past five years.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “I like it because I get to hang out with friends. Also play games and talk about peace. I’m glad they teach you how to be peaceful and calm, and not start fights.”