Activism and... PN Summer Camp

IssueSeptember 2009

I didn’t think there would be such a mix of ages, but then people young and old set up camp, and the variety of workshops was fit to please all.
My favourite workshop was on the Saturday night. Les (a warm and bubbly activist) had organised a felt-making workshop. We stretched out warm and fresh lamb’s wool across a board, soaked it in hot water and soap, and then people began to dance on the wool to help it bind together.
An old record player boomed out old hits from bands such as “Boney M” and “The Clash”. It was a great release after an interesting and detailed “Libertarian Education/Home Education” workshop. The air was full of laughter while a wide range of dance moves were being invented on top of the soaking wet hot wool.
After two hours of crazy jigs, jives and “disco Stu” struts, the felt was done. I really felt good after peeling back the square of material to find the beige felt blanket we had danced up.
It wasn’t just producing a beautiful bit of felt which was thrilling, but the strong bonds everyone had made by having fun together without any worries or judgements.
I really enjoyed the week I spent at the Summer Camp, all the people I met and the workshops I went to widened my brain and challenged my beliefs.
I highly recommend next year’s camp to anyone with a mind that’s open to different opinions, a thirst for knowledge and the need to relax and socialise with plenty of communal fun.
Young woman, 15

I came to the Peace News Camp for a number of reasons – one being to bring my teenage children to a positive camp (they love camps and festivals), also to spend quality time with a friend and her children.
I think Peace News Summer Camp is probably the best camp I have ever attended, in so many ways. The workshops were fantastic and so much on offer to us all. The people attending were so incredibly diverse and this gave me hope for the future and created a “welcome to all” atmosphere.
The land itself held beautiful vibrations (which I can be sensitive to). The camp was very, very relaxed and restorative.
I cannot wait to hear whether we will all be able to meet again. I really do hope so!
Woman, Tunbridge Wells

It’s the first time I’ve been with a group of people where I didn’t share a culture or a faith with them but I shared values.
In the faith-based resistance workshop, I met a woman with strong Christian beliefs who I shared values with. There was that amazing young girl who’s been to Gaza; religion just didn’t come into it for her.
For me, religion has been a driving force in my life but for her it was just seeing the difference between right and wrong, and that was enough to go off [to Gaza]. There were quite a few things like that which had the “wow factor” for me.
Some of the quieter people in the group, the couple who do the Nukewatching; it’s a very peaceful activity sitting in your car watching the nuclear weapons convoys, but it’s part of the bigger picture. That had the “wow factor”, and I’m glad I went and met these people.
Some people were very experienced, they’ve been out in the field; some people were newbies; some were looking for answers from religion. But there was enough common ground for us all to meet.
My younger sons had loads of fun, one of them became more aware that it’s not just anti-Islam, or anti-religion, these wars. There was a tent by the fire with big posters about “why Britain can’t stop killing” – he learned masses from that.
All my sons enjoyed it and came away saying: “When do we come again? We hope it’s for longer, for two weeks!”
For my eldest son, it was good for him to hear people talking about these issues who aren’t religion-based. Sometimes [in my community], with the best of intentions, when people discuss why the wars are going on, they focus on the religion, but actually the religion’s not the reason for going to war.
In our community we have a lot of angry young men who are getting into an “us and them” attitude. The Peace News Summer Camp is the kind of thing that helps break the “us and them” attitude.
Muslim woman, West London

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