Back in September, I promised I’d share more from Eboo Patel’s book Acts of Faith, about his personal journey to embrace his own Muslim faith and what led up to his developing the Interfaith Youth Core. I must confess that it has taken me longer to work through the book than I had intended (not a comment on the book itself, which is fascinating, but on the clutter of my own life). Now, however, seems to be a good time to recall it.
Patel warns us that “In the sphere of religion, the totalitarians have spent decades investing in their institutions and focusing like a laser on young people.” [Acts of Faith, p. 144]. He goes on to say, “Well-run youth programs have a profound impact on the behavior of young people” , and “The totalitarians have put their resources into building youth programs. The pluralists haven’t.”
One well-run youth program that helps young people develop skills for pluralism is Camp Everytown, offered by the Silicon Valley Conference for Community and Justice. Every year, hundreds of high school age youth experience “a 4 day residential, intensive, leadership training program that reduces stereotypes and prejudice, and increases understanding and respect.”
This Summer, for the first time, the SVCCJ is offering a specifically Interfaith Camp Everytown.The goals of the camp are “To help students gain the invaluable experience of exposure to other faiths in their formative years:
- Understand their religious environment.
- Learn how to effectively relate to peers of faiths different from their own.
- Learn how to respectfully communicate with them.”
As we move forward into the multi-religious reality that lies before us, it will be essential for young people to learn the skills and attitudes necessary to maintain a pluralistic community. Interfaith Camp Anytown is a unique opportunity to do just that. Consider the young people you know that might benefit from this opportunity, and encourage them to attend.