Thirteen-year-old Noura Alaemi couldn't wait to come back to Cincinnati's Kids4Peace Camp for a second straight year. "I have been discriminated [against] in school before and it was really hard for me but... all these kids [at the camp] treat me like family."
The camp, started in Jerusalem, is designed for Christians, Jews and Muslims to better understand each other. Judy Chamberlain and her husband Bob worked to bring it to Cincinnati. She wants kids to feel empowered to speak and stand up for one another.
"The goal is to build peace one person at a time," she says.
In the basement of St. Barnabus Episcopal Church in Montgomery on Tuesday, nearly two dozen kids gathered around tables to literally get some hands-on experience. With sticky fingers, they mixed dough to make Hot Cross Buns, a Christian tradition eaten on Good Friday.
Michele Young's son was a camp counselor last year. "It's a revolutionary concept when you think about it, which is to create tolerance at an early age and even, I would call it, passion or love for each other's faith and background, is huge."
The camp started this week at the Islamic Center of Cincinnati and Wednesday will go to Adath Israel. Thursday is a service day and Friday the teens will visit the Clifton Mosque and Matthew 25 Ministries.
The camp director, Hebrew Union College Rabbinical Student Natalie Stribman, the daughter of a Catholic mother and Jewish father, says she has a life-long passion for interfaith relations. "As the director, I feel empowered and inspired by the people I have brought together."
Thirteen-year-old Noah Cochran, a Walnut Hills 8th grader, says he is learning, making friends and looking forward to making a difference."
Organizers hope to expand the camp next year.