The children every morning came to Peace and Carrots jumping and running. Their energy certainly rubbed off, as I was not able to finish my coffee that I brewed that morning. Their bright smiles and uncontainable energy made the week pass by quickly. This contagious enthusiasm was transformative as we were able to learn about God’s Creation and Peace. Ultimately, this was a fun ride as we dug into the ground getting our hands dirty and also learning about people who stepped out into the world to the lead the charge for peace.
For the Carrots’ portion of the camp, the children weeded and planted in the Neighbor’s Garden. This was probably the first time they had a physical connection with God’s Creation. They knelt down on the ground to pull the carrots out. Their fingernails covered with brown dirt. They yelped with astonishment as each of them pulled out carrots bigger than their hands. Next, they planted cucumbers filling up a bare row. Instead of wearing gloves and utilizing a hand trowel, they dug into the ground with their bare hands. They carefully placed the cucumber plant into the hole and covered it with soil.
Afterwards, we cleaned the carrots and turnips and cut them into slices. The carrots were smothered in honey, while the turnips were baked in olive oil. When it was cooked and ready to eat, it turned out surprisingly delicious. How amazing that vegetables can be more delicious and simple than the food we buy from fast food places? There was not one ounce of waste at the end of the meal because the goats, sheep, and chickens enjoyed the meal, too.
For the Peace portion of the camp, we sat in a circle with ears pricked to hear the story of famous peacemakers. These peacemakers were not only inspiring during their lives, they continue to inspire us today. They learned about Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Mahatma Gandhi. As children heard each story, they were impressed by how our Peacemakers fought for Peace without the use of violence. Each day, they reenacted the story, they can experience how it was like to pursue peace.
One such story made an immediate impression on the children. Dorothy Day gave shelter to the homeless in Chicago. Not only did she make a difference in Chicago, her message of hospitality spread to other cities, such as Atlanta. And so our hope is that the message of hospitality practiced by Dorothy Day will be passed onto the children and that they continue pass it along to others.
The Peace and Carrots Camp are not separate camps, but as a whole proclaim God’s Creation and Peace. The goal of the camp was for the children to recognize that their activities in the Neighbor’s Garden were also about peace. In fact, the children soon realized that the vegetables they were pulling out or planting in the ground would be shared with our neighbors. This is our way of making peace with ourselves and others, regardless of how small our hands can be. Our small hands can lead to big changes.