A FAMILY of YOUNG SOULS, camp niangua 2003
On the Threshold of the Peace Dome
|Read more on the Peace Dome Healing Wall atwww.peacedome.org !|
What happened at Camp Niangua this year? Camp Director Dr. Pam Blosser gives the scoop!
Camp Niangua, 2003 marks the fifteenth year of young people’s summer camps here on the School of Metaphysics campus. Each year has had a special theme. Since the beginning of construction in late 2001 of the World’s First Peace Dome, our focus and theme has been peace. “Peace is an idea whose time has come” as is so aptly put in our Universal Peace Covenant, is particularly true for our camp as we endeavor to make the idea of peace alive through studying the Peace Covenant and peace stories around the world. We’ve discovered how to be peaceful by learning about individuals who have been named as Nobel Peace Laureates and the source of inspiration for them all, Mohandes K. Gandhi. “Living peaceably begins by thinking peacefully.” means learning to still the mind through concentration for the purpose of understanding.
Coming this year were Logan Goldstein, Oklahoma City, OK; Nissa Romanowski, Bloomingdale, IL; Susie Starkey, Leavenworth, KS; and counselor, Elizabeth Vaughan, Broken Arrow, OK.
Young people’s minds are very active, and in our society we are taught that scattering one’s attention is valuable. One of the campers proudly said she was best at multi-tasking, implying that concentration was something that would slow her down or limit her. Concentration actually causes the mind to be more expansive rather than more restricted. It offers much more freedom and power.
There were daily practices during camp in learning to still the thoughts, concentrate and use the mind productively. The young people began each day’s activities by focusing attention on the second hand of a clock. The campers were always eager to do color cards, a telepathic exercise, and sought to get more right than the day before. One day I looked up from projecting the colors and the first person I saw was Logan. He was giving me his full attention. His body was perfectly still and I could tell his attention was fully on me. He told me he was looking for the reflection of the color in my face. This action had given him a point of focus. He got ten out of 23 right that day. Another day, as I was projecting the colors another camper, Nissa, began speaking in a soft, quiet voice when saying the color. I could tell her attention was less in the conscious mind and more in her subconscious mind. That day she got nine right.
Then under the direction of Dr. Daniel Condron, the campers learned tai chi and meditation. Dr. Dan gave them a single point of focus each day for concentration. Afterwards they talked about what they noticed were their distractions. As they learned to meditate the campers noticed a calming, relaxing feeling. Through tai chi they learned to align body and mind to gather and direct energy. In just a few days the campers learned an entire tai chi form and were able to present it Saturday evening of Family Weekend.
Intuitive Arts, taught by Dr. Laurel Clark gave many opportunities to see and experience their energy through kurlian photography, aura meters and actually seeing auras. They also practiced their clairvoyant and telepathic abilities. (Click here to read related article.)
Through the week the campers learned how to use the power of their thoughts through expectation and visualization. Elizabeth Vaughan, had found a four leaf clover and put it in a book. When she went to look for it later it was gone. When we went swimming Logan Goldstein had picked up some shells. He was very pleased to have found a shell with both sides together. When we got back from swimming he was crestfallen because he had lost the shell. In both cases I talked about the power of thought and how when you expect something will happen Universal Law will follow and cooperate with what it is you want. I suggested to Elizabeth that she imagine finding another four leaf clover, and to Logan that he imagine when we went swimming again he would either find the same shell or another one that was very similar to it. In a day or two Elizabeth came running to show me a four leaf clover she had found. The next time we went swimming, almost as soon as we got there, Logan excitedly ran up to me to show me a shell he had found. I think they both were just as delighted at finding the shell and four leaf clover as they were at experiencing the learning of the power of their minds. The campers were learning to use their minds in a way that empowered them. Later in the week I heard Logan giving the same instruction to another, having the opportunity to pass on what he had learned to someone else.
A very special project for the campers was to add the continents of the world to the Healing Wall adjacent to the Peace Dome. This is their gift to the Dome dedication we will have on October 11. As the week continued and the campers added the continents of the southern hemisphere, northern hemisphere, then the islands, the vision of the healing wall came more and more to life for them. Settling into their minds they were realizing more deeply the significance of the Healing Wall and their part in it. The day they completed the continents I rounded a crab apple tree which cleared my view of the healing wall. There in full view I saw all the continents of the world. My heart leapt in my chest. Adding the continents was the further manifestation of the vision we have of being a place of healing and wholeness, of offering peace and bringing peace into the world. I was so happy the campers had had the opportunity to be a part of this creation. They had been a part of something bigger than any one of us. Through the week I believe they came to understand this more deeply. Susie Starkey couldn’t leave before she showed the Healing Wall to her mother and grandmother.
The sight from the Healing Wall gave the campers a panoramic view of our immediate campus. One afternoon as they were finishing up at the Healing Wall Elizabeth came running to me excitedly because they had just witnessed a new born calf. They had seen it standing up on its wobbly legs and the mother cleaning it. Then others came in to inform me of their experience. I could tell this was an important one for them. There were also some chicks born during camp. We brought them up to our warehouse and the campers loved spending time holding them.
The nature of what we teach and learn as well as the land we have chosen for our campus provides a rich experience for young people. Living in cities they are not as much in touch with the source of creation as they are here. They swim in chlorinated pools; here we swim in a flowing river with a rocky beach. They go to the store to get their milk in bottles, eggs in cartons and butter and cheese already packaged. They buy berries already picked. They go to the restaurant and are served food that has gone through a several month process of planting, growing, harvesting and shipping and through many people’s hands before it comes to their table.
Being here at our college campus gives them the opportunity to experience the many phases of creation. They get to witness and be part of the process that is creation: seeing and gathering eggs from the hen’s nest, picking berries off plants that grow naturally in the wild, or seeing potato plants and learning how to dig them out of the ground. Being closer to the source of the abundance of life, they can see the steps of creation that occur that make it possible for them to have what they buy in the store. In nature it is much easier to see creation in motion.
The land is rich with wildlife, so on our drives from Dream Valley, where they stayed, to our campus we often saw turkeys, deer, rabbits, and mice. One day we saw a possum. Around our ponds and at the Niangua River we explored the wildlife there finding a variety of frogs and turtles, minnows, and crawfish.
On Friday evening, the last night of camp before Family Weekend, we had a Peace Fire. It was a way to honor peace and send thoughts of peace to the world through the fire’s expansive flames. We began by singing a song about friends. Each year the campers add a verse to this song. After Martin Luther King Jr. spoke we offered dried herbs to the fire and thoughts or prayers for peace, either for ourselves, others or the world. As the smoke rose our thoughts ascended into the heavens to be carried to their destination in the universe. We ended our peace fire with a Circle of Love sending love across our planet.
The campus was graced by Nobel Prize Laureates and the campers got to spend time with them. College and graduate students had for five months before camp started, been becoming familiar with particular Peace Laureates, learning by heart excerpts from their acceptance speeches and endeavoring to embody their consciousness. It was fitting for these individuals to serve as representatives of the Peace Laureates so the campers could spend time with a person who had devoted years of their life to the progress of peace. They picked up rocks with Jimmy Carter, dug potatoes with Betty Williams from Northern Ireland. They made short cakes with Mother Teresa, and went on a scientific expedition of dowsing with Linus Pauling. They travelled through the Niangua jungles with Albert Schweitzer to go swimming. And Martin Luther King Jr. visited at our Peace Fire on Friday evening. Through the week the campers learned and became familiar with the ideas of these Peace Laureates to gain a greater idea of what peace is.
Where they learned the most about them was through theater arts. Dr. Barbara Condron, teacher, had created an exquisite three part presentation given on Saturday night of Family Weekend. The program was based on a three part chant developed as a collaboration with her and others entitled Satyagraha (for a cassette of Satygraha and Peace is Real, click here). The campers loved the chant. They asked me often how a certain part went so they could learn it, and it was the music they first heard as they awoke each morning. We listened to the chant as we painted and then folded the paper to make Peace Cranes. Satyagraha is a term Gandhi used meaning “holding onto truth”. He developed, taught and lived by this principle in his human rights movements in South Africa and India. This began the first chant, satyagraha(holding onto truth), pravi, pravi (bring), forming a tribute to Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi appeared, telling the story of his life, and one at a time the Nobel Peace Laureates were escorted forward by a camper who related their life, how it paralleled Gandhi’s or how they had been influenced by him. After saying a few words, each laureate gave a gift to Gandhi and, at the end, received one of his few possessions left behind after his death.
The second chant, Pravi , Rama, Rama, Rama adi Om (bring the delight of creation), was represented in the love story of Rama and Sita. Rama means delight, and the campers delighted in presenting this story as a shadow puppet play. They designed and created the characters themselves. Upon seeing it the audience was delighted as well. The third part was a beautiful yoga dance including all the movements from the Sun Salutation. This was danced to the chant Svagata mahatma (Come, great soul), Namascar ahimsa (Pay reverence or obedience to non-violence). A lovely tapestry of form and movement was woven together through sight and sound.
This beautiful experience brought our camp to its fruition and formed the climax to a wonderful evening of Family Weekend for everyone present.
“A friend is somebody who understands you,
Bringing you cheer with a smile.
All friends are special, old or new,
For now and forever we’re friends.”
This is the verse the Camp Niangua campers wrote on their last day of camp to add to the Friends song. Although all of these young people have only known each other for a short time, they seem like old friends. Logan and Susie chased each other around the garden like brother and sister on the first night of camp and at other times argued like an old married couple. Neither one of them seemed shy or bashful about their fondness for each other. Elizabeth said Nissa and Susie made her feel good. I think this feeling of security spans more than the acquaintances she has made with them this lifetime. These are old friends, and they are very special.
Camp Niangua unites old friends and brings their bonds to a deeper level of understanding. As the Dalai Lama said, we are basically all alike. Recognizing this makes it possible for us to bond together and become friends no matter what our skin color, dress or language we speak. Even if we become angry with each other, if we remember we are all the same and we all want the same things, it can dissolve our anger into understanding. And this is what makes peace.
©2003 School of Metaphysics