Some Thoughts in Response to September 11
Since the September 11th tragedies, many people here in New York have commented that the whole world has changed, and at the same time, nothing has changed at all. We feel that this idea is true in many contexts. Despite the devastation that we have experienced, we continue to see some of the very qualities that may have precipitated September 11th - hatred, ignorance, inequality, and prejudice - pervade our society. Here at ICEP, although we recognize the current fear and apprehension to travel to the United States, we feel that our mission has become even more important and necessary. We believe in peace and nonviolent conflict resolution.
We believe that the informal context of camping is the best forum for bringing young people together from around the world to learn and grow. We still believe that if people have the chance to share their culture and interact with others from different backgrounds, they can build international peace through the friendships they nurture and the diversity they celebrate.
Now more than ever, children need an environment that teaches them to live peacefully with all kinds of people while building their own character, skill, and leadership development. So, in response to September 11th, ICEP will continue to send highly qualified young people from around the world to work as camp counselors in the United States. We will continue to welcome counselors to New York City for orientation and we will continue to work with the many wonderful camps throughout the US that share our goals and ideas. In addition, we will continue to travel overseas ourselves to visit our representatives and counselors.
Stranded between the culture of hope and the culture of despair, we are challenged to provide the forum for children, youth, and adults to nurture friendships that can sow the seeds of hope and peace for the present and the future. Margaret Mead reminds us: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." We witness that sentiment at work within the camp community when children, youth, and adults celebrate their humanity
Creating world peace may now seem a more overwhelming task, but the challenge of being an international camp counselor is the same - you have nine weeks to work hard, share your skills, culture, and individuality, and make a difference in the lives and education of American children. Surely, there will also be things that you can learn from. We believe that the summer camp experience can be mutually enriching to all participants.