February 21, 2005
On the first night of the Seeds of Peace summer camp, most of the teenagers do not sleep. It’s not because they are excited about the camp activities in which they are about to participate.
Instead, the youth are apprehensive about the enemies with whom they are sharing cabins.
About 500 teens from Israel, Palestine, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan will attend the 3 1 /2-week Seeds of Peace camp in Otisville, Maine, where they learn vital conflict resolution skills necessary to become national and world leaders.
A group of Arizona teenagers aims to raise $30,000 to make it possible for teens around the globe to attend the annual camp. The local youth belong to the Arizona Teen Chapter of Seeds of Peace, founded in 2002 at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale to raise funds and awareness for the international organization.
"You have 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds who have never said a word to each other, who come to camp and find themselves that first night lying in a bunk . . . terrified that if they fall asleep, harm will come to them," said Aaron David Miller, Seeds of Peace president and a former adviser for Arab-Israeli relations at the U.S. Department of State.
By the camp’s end, the teens leave each other with tears and hugs, having made new friends among their former adversaries, he said.
Miller will be the keynote speaker at the annual fundraiser, hosted by the Arizona Teen Chapter, on Sunday at Ancala Country Club in Scottsdale. Last year’s event raised $15,000 for the summer camp program, said chapter spokeswoman Susan Assadi.
Miller will speak on Seeds of Peace, its leadership camps and programs, and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Desert Mountain chapter was the first supporting group formed to help fund the international organization. Founded in 1993 by New York Times journalist John Wallach, Seeds of Peace trains teenagers in leadership skills and peaceful coexistence. More than 2,500 youth have been trained at the annual summer camps in Maine or through programs run in their home countries, Miller said.
What: Gala fund-raiser for Seeds of Peace, hosted by the Arizona Teen Chapter
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Ancala Country Club, 11700 Via Linda, Scottsdale
Cost: $125 per person