High school students from Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions came together earlier this month to begin training for the upcoming Peace Camp, hosted by the Children of Abraham Coalition. The camp is geared to junior high students and takes place Feb. 18 – 19, with several stops along the way. This year, it has been fully funded by a generous grant from a foundation that funds interfaith work.
This year’s Peace Camp, the fifth, is especially timely in a world rocked by violence in the Middle East, Ukraine and Yemen, as well as a surge in Antisemitic attacks and anti-Muslim hate crimes, the idea of young people coming together to attend a Peace Camp resonates.
It was Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, founder of the Children of Abraham Coalition, who brought the idea of a camp for middle school students back to the group after seeing a similar camp in Canada.
Peace Camp was envisioned as a place where Jewish, Muslim and Christian young people could build friendships with each other while they learn about the richness of each other’s religious traditions. They also would learn to develop skills for standing against faith-based prejudice and bullying. Making it even more relatable to middle school students, it would be an interfaith team of high school and college students who would lead them.
“This event is important because religious-based fear and hate start early,” Fr. Corey says. “During the camp, even sixth graders can identify it and have experienced it. Our goal is to help these kids grow in interfaith literacy, while also learning skills to speak out against faith-based bigotry and bullying.”
During the training, which took place at the Province Center, leaders heard from representatives about their respective faith traditions and how to encourage interfaith dialogue.
“Since 2018, Peace Camp has touched the lives of hundreds of young people who go on to build peace in our world,” Fr. Corey adds.
At the training, teen made plans to visit a mosque, synagogue and a Christian church in Chicago’s North and Northwest suburbs, and secured representatives who will offer a presentation about their faith tradition and its important artifacts.
Fr. Corey founded the Children of Abraham Coalition in 2010 in response to the growing number of hate-based events in the wake of 9/11. Right from the start, he offered events that promoted interfaith dialogue between people of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions.
“Peace Camp doesn’t end after the camp,” Fr. Brost says. “Campers and leaders gather throughout the year through monthly virtual reunions or service afternoons, so they can continue to develop interfaith friendships, interfaith literacy and interfaith reverence.”
Spots remain open for Jewish and Christian participants.