Last week, GSS Halton-Peel helped the Interfaith Council of Halton organize and put on the second Interfaith Peace Camp in Oakville! The purpose of the camp was to learn about the different faiths by visiting different faith buildings and participating in numerous activities and discussions around peace and faith. We had 21 amazing campers from 5 to 12 years old. Throughout the week, we learned very interesting aspects about the Baha’i Faith, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism.  Councilors and supervisors joined us from the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) and our camp’s home base was the Halton Regional Police Children’s Safety Village. Lucky for us at GSS Halton-Peel, the week also had a focus on the environment, so we were asked to lead the campers through some fun eco-mindfulness activities outside in nature.

Eco-mindfulness is a practice that inspires mindful connections with the environment around us. It also ties into the environmental value demonstrated Faith and the Common Good’s interfaith concept of the “Green Rule”- do unto the Earth as you would have it done unto you. This rule shows that in every faith, there is a common principle of caring for our planet. To encourage and learn about eco-mindfulness, we went to the beautiful Bronte Creek Provincial Park with our amazing outdoor education teammates Darryl Houghton and Kristen Stansell from the Bronte Creek Project (http://garyallan.ca/high-school-students/bronte-creek/).

The activities were designed in a way to make the children more mindful of their environment and surroundings, whether that was through channeling their empathy for other living creatures or listening to the sounds of nature that we often ignore. One of the highlights was Darryl’s “Nature Art” activity. The campers were challenged to use whatever they could find on the ground, safety, to inspire the creation of an art piece. Afterwards, the entire group had an art gallery walk-through experience that showcased all the ingenious nature art, featuring an explanation from each group of artists about their masterpieces.

In addition to the eco-mindfulness activities, the camp’s focus on the environment as a sub-theme also meant this fantastic group put extra effort in proper waste sorting, learning about other environmental topics, making energy and water conservation signs for their homes, and even arranging for all lunches and snacks to be 100% vegetarian! Amazing job!! We are so honoured to be a part of the Interfaith Peace Camp organizing team, and to be able to help encourage youth of faith communities to connect with, learn about and appreciate their natural environments. Thanks to the incredible team at the Interfaith Council of Halton for inviting GSS Halton-Peel be a part of this magical week!