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Teaching Peace, A 25 Year Tradition

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VESTAL, NY -

Nearly one week ago, District Attorney Steven Cornwell announced Broome County's crime rate has decreased 16 percent, since 2016. Making the County 6th overall with the highest crime rate in New York State. This fluctuation in number could be attributed to the increase in patrolling police presence or an increased awareness in the public, but it's not certain. 

For one local program, decreasing crime by focusing on the next generation of humanity has been at the heart of their service for 25 years. The Peace Camp, hosted by Our Lady of Sorrows Church, has been holding a four-day camp for children, grade K to 6th, to examine ways they can all help make the world a more peaceful place. Being mindful of what they think, say and do.

Monday, children learned the specifics of peace by creating artistic supplies, joining in fun and interactive activities, as well as discussing the world with their volunteer counselors. Counselors that, over the past 25 years, have grown up to share the knowledge they learned at the same camp, with the same ideologies for a generation.

"I cant believe it's been 25 years here. It's been astounding! I've made so many friends here over the years. It's just been amazing," said Robby Brown a volunteer counselor.

"We were thrilled to have 1,2,3, or 4 years here, but at this point all of our counselors are teenagers here. A vast majority of them were campers themselves," said Dr. Jody Dempsey, Peace Camp Developer.

This year's camp featured a live performance by Vitamin L, a musical group from Ithaca, NY, that has written and performed much of the music used in Peace Camp. Through music, arts and human interaction, camp officials say, will help these children explore the many dimensions of peace and how it can be achieved when these campers grow up into adults.

"I think the way the kids get from the time we start from the time we're done, they get it. There is a connection that is with the common theme (Peace)," said Dr. Jody Dempsey.

And with all the fun and love at Our Lady of Sorrows' Peace Camp, the most important tools that camp counselors hope their kids take away, year after year is;

"I hope they take away that there really is still peace on earth. Our goal is to teach these kids the tools they can use when they aren't at camp anymore," Robby Brown.

"Peace be with you,"  — Dr. Jody Dempsey.