On September 9 members of the PeacePlayers International – Middle East Leadership Development Program went on a camping retreat in northern Israel. The following blog is written by PPI-ME Fellow LaToya Fisher who attended the retreat.
School. Work. Love. Technology. These are just a few of the things that occupy many people’s lives and cause distractions. Distractions often leave us disconnected and familiar faces become strangers. Every now and then you have to unplug from society and do something extraordinary. Last week the Leadership Development Program (LDP) had the opportunity to do just that during a camping trip on the Sea of Galilee.
One of the PPI – ME’s core programs, the Leadership Development Program serves participants 16 years and older who have demonstrated outstanding leadership potential. Activities include practicing on integrated teams, volunteering locally as assistant coaches, participating in leadership and basketball workshops, and leading neighborhood community service projects.
At each point of the camping trip, I felt all LDP participants improving their teamwork and communication skills. Everyone worked together to set up the campsite. Even when it came to preparing the first meal everyone knew their role and the meal naturally came together. It reminded me of a holiday dinner where the entire family is in the kitchen cooking together at once. It even included infamous banter such as “I don’t want to cut those, can you do it?” followed by the “What are you doing? Why are you doing it that way?” Also, the American Fellows introduced the LDP to a quintessential camping snack – s’mores.
We spent hours in the water well into the night when you could no longer see the bottom and needed a flashlight to illuminate the way. Some of us stayed late laughing, singing, and enjoying each other’s company. The next day we woke up, ate a little more, and spent even more time in the water before packing up and leaving.
This overnight camp served PPI-ME’s ongoing mission of forming friendships between Israeli and Palestinian young people. All LDP members continued to break down barriers and have fun together. It’s nearly impossible to leave a PeacePlayers retreat and not feel a bit closer and connected with the people on the trip. The retreats are always fun, unique, and a great way to break the ice with people you don’t interact with often. The retreats create some of the best memories and I always look forward to them! I look forward to continuing these new friendships in more LDP opportunities!