Balkan Camp Program

Balkan Camp: June 18 - 30, 2015

In the summer of 2015, we will implement our new marine education program called PACT SEAS, to enhance our peace-building curriculums of growth and discovery for children and adolescents from various PACT regions of intolerance, including Balkan Youth from ages 11 - 17. As in the past, under the guidance of a dedicated core of trained U.S. and Balkan-based volunteers, campers will participate in a challenging "values-based" curriculum of peace-building and reconciliation.

The Balkan Camp program generally begins with a thorough examination of influential but often unwarranted stereotypes and conceptions held by each of the Balkan communities, followed by training and practice in conflict resolution, dialogue, and critical thinking skills. In letting go of negative stereotypes, grudges, and resentment, the ethno-religious groups pledge to coexist in an atmosphere of peace and mutual respect.

As the different ethnic groups demonstrate the willingness to accept one another and work together as a whole, the camp transitions into a week-long exercise in appreciating diversity both on an individual and community-wide basis, exploring the culture and history of each society represented at camp as well as examples from other regions of the world. During this phase, children have the opportunity learn first-hand about different approaches to and interpretations of universal human experiences.

After forging a bond across ethnic and religious barriers, the entire group will be challenged to take on a final project. In this last stage of the program, participants will have a chance to put into practice the skills they have acquired, and reflect on what they have learned. Working together towards a common goal, they can see for themselves the enormous power of collaboration and cooperation.

The program culminates in a symbolic agreement by all parties to move beyond their differences, and take the peace-building skills learned at camp back to their home communities.  The event is celebrated with a day of festivities and represents the bridge between a troubled past and a more promising future.