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Contact: Robert Kent, 650.537.0536,

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Menlo Park resident wins national search for “Peace Pioneers” - Summer Camp Scholarship for Forging Friendships and Trust among Israeli and Palestinian Youth one of two winners of Ben & Jerry Prize.

May 27, 2008 . . . Menlo Park, CA

The PeaceCamp Initiative – a Menlo-Park based non-profit that raises scholarship funds to send deserving Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders to a traditional American summer camp – is pleased to announce that they have won Ben & Jerry’s “Peace Pioneer” contest. The $10,000 prize was awarded May 27, 2008 at a Times Square press conference introducing new flavor “Imagine Whirled Peace” attended by Jerry Greenfield (the Jerry of Ben & Jerry), B & J CEO Walt Freeze, representatives of the Lennon Estate, and actress/activist Maggie Gyllenhaal.

PeaceCamp Initiative founder Robert Kent explains: “We live in a world where a successful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine is the single most critical step in eliminating the root cause and the rallying cry of global terrorism. Many, embittered by years of conflict, see this resolution as impossible, claiming that Israel and Palestine will not know peace until they both have leaders capable of guiding their people across the chasm of violence, politics, and rhetoric that divides them – and such leaders do not exist.

“Which is why,” Kent continues, “it is so important that we start creating them now.”

The PeaceCamp Initiative was founded with the conviction that lasting peace requires men and women who can bridge a history and habit of bitterness with bonds of friendship and trust. The program selects Jewish and Arab youth leaders, all of them participants in Budo for Peace, a special martial arts program that gives Jewish and Arab students of Karate, Judo, or Aikido the chance to train together in harmony, and brings them to a traditional camp in America. The typical residential summer camp program of team and individual sports, with a spring-fed lake, horseback riding, mountain bike trails, craft shops, climbing tower, etc. has taught boys and girls from America and all over the world tolerance and respect for others, how to deal gracefully with conflict, and a sense of fair play.

In other words, the traditional American summer camp has been teaching, for more than 100 years, exactly the lessons that forging peace requires. The Jewish and Arab youth that the PeaceCamp Initiative brings to America will experience a world without bullets and bombs, refugees and resentments. They will learn to trust and value each other as teammates, cabinmates, and friends. They will start to outgrow their inherited enmity.

These young men and women will also, in turn, become leaders amongst their peers, and start sowing seeds of peace and tolerance in a land where both are scarce.

The PeaceCamp Initiative (, based in Menlo Park, CA is a program of Aiki-Extensions, Inc. a 501(c)3 non profit based in Chicago ( that was formed in 1998 to deepen and extend the practice of aikido as an art of peace. Its members do so in unusual training sites such as schools and in centers for at-risk youth; by applying aikido ways to harmony in the healing arts and the expressive arts; and by promoting social harmony in venues that include Brazil, Ethiopia, the Middle East and the inner cities of North America. The PeaceCamp Initiative partners with Budo for Peace ( and the Middle East Salaam Shalom Aikido Peace Project (, which bring together young people from conflict areas to learn and practice traditional Japanese budo (martial arts) in order to learn its values and apply them toward breaking down fear and building trust between peoples. Through martial arts training and understanding of traditional Japanese budo values – including respect, harmony and self-control – the youth enrolled in these programs are taught to convert both internal and external conflict into harmonious behavior.

The PeaceCamp Initiative was largely inspired by Kent’s long experience as a camper and staff member of Camp Susquehannock, one of the country’s oldest traditional residential sports camps. Founded in 1905, Camp Susquehannock Inc. is a 501(c)3 educational non profit. More information can be found at Kent also runs the youth program at Aikido West ( in Redwood City, CA, and teaches a course, Aikido and Ethics, for the Philosophy Department at Williams College ( each January.

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PeaceCamp Initiative Founder Awarded Ben & Jerry's "Peace Pioneer" Prize