First time UP coach Carly Berlin talks about some of the beautiful moments she has witnessed at Camp Ultimate Peace 2015.
At camp, the weekend is no break– teams are continuing to improve their skills through long practices in the morning sun, are bonding through activities like last night’s Camp Olympics, and are beginning to create beauty together through their clubs.
On Friday at dinner, however, all of training camp took a brief pause from the constant activity. Yabi, an assistant coach and Jewish Israeli, and Yasmeen, an administrative assistant and Arab Israeli, acknowledged the Jewish and Muslim holy days that occur every weekend. Each described the origins and traditions of these holidays, Shabbat and Jumah, and welcomed campers and coaches to greet each other with “Shabbat Shalom” and “Juma mubarkeh.”
Yabi emphasized the importance of joining family members on Friday evenings to enjoy time together and discuss feelings about the week. He pointed out that all two hundred campers and more staff members in the dining hall resembled a family coming together.
A camper joined Yabi and Yasmeen on stage to read the Kiddush, a prayer that Jews traditionally recite at the Friday night meal. On Sunday, Christian customs will be highlighted.
Ultimate Peace is all about finding what unites us and forging friendships across cultures. On Friday, we spent a moment exploring differences. We learned about one another’s traditions, and many shared greetings they had likely never spoken before, let alone heard. It was a time of recognition, acceptance, and celebration of the distinctions between us.
Many of my campers returned to UP this summer excited to return to their family at camp, and others are just beginning to learn of the bonds that connect us here. Yesterday, my camper Mohammad put his arm around his teammate, Uri, pointed to him and said “habibi.” Friend.
It is my first summer at UP and I have witnessed and experienced no shortage of beautiful moments so far. A perpetual lack of sleep and the relentless Middle Eastern heat cannot damper the joy I feel when I see smiles on campers’ faces, as they learn to throw a flick or create a new cheer with a teammate. Here, we can both acknowledge each other’s different cultures and celebrate the things that bring us together.