I believe that the incandescent joy of a happy child transcends every ethnic and economic distinction humankind has invented to keep us apart.

I believe that every prejudice, every oppression, every resentment, and every misunderstanding can be cured more quickly by mixing everyone’s children together, making two teams, and letting them play than by any form of conflict resolution, court intercession, or legislation we’ve come up with so far.
— Robert Kent, Founder - The PeaceCamp Initiative

Our Beginning

That statement, excerpted from an essay titled "I believe in Summer Camp" submitted to NPR's This I Believe series in 2006, gave birth to the idea of PeaceCamp. Traditional American summer camps have, for more than 100 years, created great summers for kids from all over the country and all over the world. Summers that changed each child's life, but in most cases, probably did not change the world. We at The PeaceCamp Initiative honor that long history of friend-making and trust-forging, and have started to offer it to future leaders from Israel and Palestine. Every summer, in conjunction with the organization Budo for Peace (BudoforPeace.org), we bring a few children of Israel and of Palestine to Camp Susquehannock. Athletic kids, regular kids, innocent kids. 

All candidates for this program will be selected based both on their ability to get the most out of camp, their ability to teach, and learn from, the rest of the campers, and their ability to then do the most for their friends, their classmates, their parents, and their communities when they return. 

We do not expect that many of these candidates will have the resources to afford airfare and camp fees, even when discounts are available, so your support is critical for this work to continue.

Why Martial Arts Kids?

Because they make better peacemakers, better leaders, and better friends.

The PeaceCamp Initiative is a program of Aiki Extensions, a non-profit dedicated to bringing the wisdom of Aikido - a martial art devoted to peaceful resolution of conflict - out of the training hall and into the larger world. Working with Budo for Peace, an organization that creates "sister school" pairings between Palestinian and Israeli martial arts schools, we find deserving youth who are already disciplined, athletic, and experienced in the thoughtful exploration of the role of power and violence in their lives. We believe that these children will make better peacemakers, better leaders, and better friends. We believe that martial arts training helps people respond carefully rather than fearfully, rationally rather than randomly, and all the while in much greater control of the energy of the conflict all around them.

Enjoy this interview with our 2012 PeaceCamp Initiative Delegates - discussing what they learned at camp, what the other campers learned from them, and what they'll take back with them to their Israeli and Palestinian communities.