As Pope Francis had extensively addressed these two vital topics, the camp had therefore become a venue for these groups of young people to increase their awareness and to enhance their capacity to deal with varied issues and challenges, as well as propose concrete actions and solutions concerning family and environmental matters. Integrating these two topics in the varied activities daily made them realize the relevance and importance of these in the present Palestinian society.
Family atmosphere was in evidence as laughter, joy, presence, surprises and light moments filled the air amidst work and activities that were shared by the participants, together with the facilitators and the staff during the days of the camp.
This natural ambiance of ‘being in a family’ became even more tangible and intensified when the parents came to join us on the last day. Some parents really made an effort to be present, spent the day with their kids, and enjoyed each other’s presence through games, and the organized program of the day. Through these fun games and animated activities they were able ‘to waste time’ together and exchange simple gestures of love and support which strengthen their relationship with one another. Majority of the parents also valued the bonding moments with their children which made this camp unique and different from any other camps that we had before. The presence of other members of the family aside from the parents was also an indication that everyone is united in this desire to keep the family ties strong.
Their coming had meant a lot to the campers as joy and contentment were etched on their faces as we parted ways on that day. In the same way, the parents who came were equally happy, grateful and appreciative of what they experienced that day. Many of them expressed their amazement at how the level of enthusiasm was kept high from the beginning until the end of the camp. A good number of them also noted the positive changes in the attitudes and dispositions of their children. Another theme which kept the participants interested until the end was care for creation reinforcing their responsibility to build a healthy environment wherever they are.
Ms. Agnes Sleibi, one of the staff-facilitators noted, "...in every varied activities that we introduced each day in the camp, the theme-family and environment were interwoven, be it in a game, art session, A to Z and spelling contest, values formation session, film- viewing, etc. Through these activities, the participants got to know more about the following: values and traditions that their families uphold, problems and issues confronting every family, what the Bible and the Quran say about how parents should be treated, communication and relational issues in the family as well."
Likewise, Ms. Mariam Sleibi, another staff-facilitator has this to say,"...the participants have spontaneously exchanged, shared opinions and also showed interest and enthusiasm in any activity that has something to do with the environment. Thus, they were made aware of the consequences of the following: a simple act of throwing garbage in a trash can and/or the potential harm of just throwing it anywhere, planting herbs/trees, different ways of caring and respecting the earth and ways of preserving our environment, how to protect the wildlife-the flora and fauna and extinct animals."
The three different age group levels enjoyed each of the allotted two week-long encounter filled with intense and growth-provoking activities.
These varied activities are captured in the pictures, which indeed, speak a “thousand words…”
Text and photos: Monnitte V. Monana