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Learning life lessons at 'Peace Camp'

It's summer camp season, and while many kids will participate in sports or theater camps, one group in Wilkes-Barre is doing something a little different.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — While, in the video above, it may look as if these kids in Wilkes-Barre are doing nothing more than having fun at summer camp, the lessons they're learning will likely last a lifetime.

"As a teacher and a mom, I find having this week for the kids to just be themselves, to learn that while we all have differences, we have a lot in common as well, and how to deal with those differences," said camp director Joli Mattia.

"Peace Camp" is hosted by the Peace and Justice Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and the goal is to teach kids about conflict resolution, teamwork, and empathy.

"I love it because you get to be in someone else's shoes from a different culture, which is super fun," said 12-year-old Isabelle Figliolini from Delaware County.

Isabelle and her friend Guinivere McCurdy spent part of the morning learning about life in the Middle East from a guest speaker.

"And then another girl taught us about her culture because she's Jewish, and she taught us to spell 'Shalom,' which means peace in Hebrew," the girls explained.

"I think kids really need to learn these lessons young so that, as they're growing up, they can take these lessons in school and in their different activities," said camp volunteer and King's College student Marissa Jason.

"Sports camps teach you how to play a sport. Peace camp teaches you how to do peaceful things like, be a good person, just make sure that you can make the world a better place," said camp volunteer and Penn State student Daniel Hancuff.

Last summer, the camp had to be held virtually. Organizers, volunteers, and the kids all agreed that it just wasn't the same.

"It's good to be back in person like it was the first year where we could all work together and play games and form friendships and bonds," said camp volunteer and West Chester University student Lauren Kozicki.

While the kids spend a lot of time learning about different cultures, they also spend a lot of time learning about each other.

"My favorite part of Peace Camp is that we have such a range of ages. I love that there's 5-year-olds and 13-year-olds. And what I love seeing is them partnering up together, and the opportunities for the older youth to have a leadership role," said assistant camp director Jessica Figliolini.

For more information on the annual summer camp, click here.

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