Articles From the October 1994 Unification News
British Church Holds Summer Camp Singing Plates and Letters to God
By George Robertson-London, UK
Between 1st and 22nd of August this year a total of 91 children took part in three summer camps organized by the British Unification Church at Cleeve House in Wiltshire. Ages ranged from six to twelve and children traveled from all over the United Kingdom to participate in outings, sports, crafts and classes.
"It was a memorable experience for staff and children alike" said Chris Jubb, leader of a group of 7 year olds. "We all learned a great dead. Even from the variety of things that troubled some of the children They were ...well, quite remarkable.
I remember waking up one morning at 3am and there was one of my group standing like a ghost at the door. Michael, with a recent history of diarrhea, announced with a terrible almost Shakespearian gravity: "It's too big." "What is Michael?" said I, still in bed." What's too big?" "The toilet seat" he trembled. "The urgency in his voice was causing me some concern. I said go! Michael. Go! I didn't want to get out bed. He sent to the toilet but he came back. "I can't" (e said. "I would like to but I can't." I got up. We went to the toilet. He seemed almost to be sleep walking. I said OK Michael, There is the toilet. "No no I can't" he said. "Michael, my voice rising as I heard his stomach and intestines rumbling, you've got to sit on that toilet and pretty soon! He made it then at 3.15am....just".
One of Chris's sons, Simon, a keen naturalist recalled the visit to Seaworld at Weymouth. "Touching the silver sharks was great and I found three old nests in the grounds of Cleeve House, two blackbirds and a wren. I liked the workshop but I would have liked more time for nature study." Simon's sister Kathrine was in agreement with that. "I would like to have walked more around the woods but I made a new friend and she wrote to me. "Parents are always keen to find out what the children remember from the classes. Kathrine said quite definitely: "Don't tell lies".
Is classroom teaching appropriate? One parent who took part during the camps said. "I watched many of the children carefully writing notes but I'm not sure of how much they are retaining from classroom sessions. I think we need to think very creatively about how to "serve" the spiritual food. I think there are other ways apart from the traditional classroom where the teacher is talking and everyone sits listening. There is nothing wrong with that of course, as long as the children can respond. I've seen some excellent drama lessons which can teach many valuable lessons. Maybe we should include that in the future".
One of the committee who arranged the summer camps suggested that "if the children really learned one major point and could take that home with them, then the spiritual content would be a success for that child. It may sound like a very modest goal but it's realistic and if a child really is inspired, for example, to help their friends, or not to lie or to care for their possessions then it can be a lesson for their whole life".
A clear understanding of the origin of evil must be a central point as children grow up. Recognizing its importance, Mr. and Mrs. Brann, the National leaders in the UK, took time to personally teach these lectures about the Fall of man during the summer camps. "There were golden moments" said Chris Jubb. I was particularly struck by one thing Geoffrey Summer said to me. This little boy just can't sit still,
and doesn't appear to listen. He is a whirlwind on two feet. I asked him what he thought about a lecture on the subject of the Fall of Man. "Well," said this six year old after a moments reflection," I am happy to know the truth" and he paused meaningfully," but it's such a sad truth".
Anni Robertson has been involved with blessed children's education for several years. "We still have a long way to go to reach a good standard.
We have many plans and ideas but realizing them is hard. I think that the information we presented about the true children was effective. We drew charts of their hobbies, schools, favorite pets and their likes and dislikes.
There was real interest from the children in this project. They asked lots of questions and seemed excited by the details".
On that subject, one evening reflection read "I enjoyed the film of True Family singing. I think I enjoyed that a lot but not getting drenched..." (This was written on rainy day visit to the beach.)
Can children to learn how to pray? One teacher taking part in the camps said " Praying out loud is not easy for 7 or 8 year olds. They are inevitably shy. I wonder if we shouldn't start with some kind of meditation, even as a game and teach them gradually a measure of self control. This is such an important thing and we need to find the right strategies. If these children can find the joy and excitement of prayer with God then they will really have an incredible asset for life".
One of the children wrote in a reflection after a class about prayer
"Today in the morning our teem leader talked about prayer and I realized I didn't really pray proper" and finishing off the reflection in a truly religious style this precocious seven year old wrote "thee end".
"I think that it's important to see the children really as individuals, We make a mistake if we start relating to them as some kind of group. They are all very different and one of the treasures I take with me", said Chris Jubb, "is the say that I have gotten to know many of the children individually. I think it can mean a lot to them as well. One of the lessons which I take away from the summer camps is the need to improve our parenting skills. If you were to take almost any group of children from society you would find there are some you can get on with easily and others it seems almost impossible. In general, some adults do have problems and they see groups of children only collectively, not as unique individuals which they are."
Hamish Robertson who taught during one of the camps reminded everyone of the importance of the hyung sang aspect: good order, clear schedule and rules. "Not," he said, "the rigid discipline of an army but until we realize a level of unconditional love we have to recognize our present limits and work sensibly towards our goals. We need to keep lectures to a maximum length of 45 minutes. They need to be prepared more and have greater visual content".
Every team had duties which included washing up and one of the kitchen staff recalled the following conversation as two eight year old struggled with dinner plates: "How can you love a smelly old plate like this. Yu'h!"
"You have to pretend the plate is crying."
"Why would the plate cry?"
"Because it's dirty. When they're clean they sing". Carlo Raccarelli talking with the adults prior to the camps emphasized how to relate to the secretness of children, the sense of there being two sides and the "conspiracy" against adults. "If we can enter into their mind, we take away that terrible generation gap and their naughtiness and we gain access to them. It ceases to be two worlds going on separately under the same roof," he said
Children were invited one day to write a letter to God and the contents varied. From the sublime:
Dear God, I hope you are having a good time because I am. Please can you guide me through the week so that I don't do bad things.
and the penitent:
Dear God, So sorry for the fighting in the world and people dying from the war. When the kingdom of god comes on the earth there will not be any more fighting, killing, grayness secrets or sin.
Dear God Thank you for giving me life and please help me to use it to help others.
To the more esoteric:
Dear God, Hello how are you? My name is Jennifer and I am 12 years old. (I know that you already know these facts about me but I don't have anything else to write.) Can you answer one question for me? Why did you make it bad weather when we went to the beach?
and the ecstatically simple:
Dear God, Every morning I wake up and I look at the rabbits.
with an after thought
PS I don't want to swap back beds and I will try to be more like you
(and one more:)
PPS If you would like to come and visit us this is my address and what my house looks like (Drawing and address followed)
and the truly philosophical:
Dear God, Thank you for making all the people and nature. It would have been very dull if you had never made them and nobody would no what to do. If it wasn't for the True Parents getting my mum, and dad to join the church then I would never have existed.
Looking back over the summer camps staff members felt there had to be a fresh determination to prepare for future camps even as far as a year in advance. Keitha Browning urged more practical life guidance for the older children and reducing the size of groups to allow them to be more manageable. The development of family exchanges throughout Europe was also looked forward to and suggestions were made about creating a camp "uniform". Staff too, were encouraged to wear good quality and bright clothes.
From a spiritual viewpoint both parents and teachers agreed that the blessed children need to be excited by the prospect of their future mission which is to work with True Children. It was also suggested that elder blessed children could be trained to help as staff in the future.
Many of those who took part during the three summer camps expressed how moved they were by the example set by Mrs Brann, the British National leader who was caring for everyone, making drinks for the staff, always watching to make sure every child had their dinner, tidying up rooms and bringing the atmosphere of a true mother.
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