Harmony Camp marks quarter century of building self-esteem and having fun

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — For the last 25 years children ages 6-9 in the region have had the opportunity to attend several sessions of Harmony Camp, which today is offered by the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance. During a session held July 8-10 at the Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Camp about 20 boys and girls made crafts, shared stories, played games and enjoyed healthy snacks while building self-esteem and learning about how to interact with others.

ne-harmonycampcolor-dc-po-29Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom

    HARMONY CAMP 2014 — Alex McDade reads aloud, while Macee Pearl holds up the book “Who’s in Rabbit’s House?” on July 10 as part of a session of Harmony Camp held at the Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Church. For 25 years Harmony Camp, which today is offered by the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, has provided children ages 6-9 the opportunity to have fun while building self-esteem and learning about how to treat others.

     On the morning of the final day of the Dover-Foxcroft Harmony Camp, the youngsters gathered around in the welcome circle to start their day. Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance Prevention Educator Angie Alfonso told the campers that Harmony Camp mascot Harmony Bear told her that he is happy because he now has 24 new friends between the children and camp volunteers. Alfonso said Harmony Bear wanted her to thank the campers for helping their peers, such as when someone arrived late to help get them caught up with the group and cleaning up after the art projects.
    The Harmony Camp participants heard the book “Stone Soup” read aloud and, “We talked about how everybody brings something different to the pot so there’s soup for everyone,” Alfonso said. “It’s important to take care of your community and take care of Dover-Foxcroft,” she said about another lesson from the book.
    The campers then were given some stones to decorate however they saw fit, using materials such as pipe cleaners, markers and glitter. During the three days the various art projects included caterpillars with each insect unique like a person’s fingerprints, paper replicas of the campers to show how they see themselves and decorative photo frames and art bags.
    Harmony Camp concluded with an art show, where each child was given a certificate saying they are a special and including a picture of Harmony Bear munching on a piece of bamboo, an official Harmony Camp T-shirt, their own Harmony Bear and a Linus Blanket handmade by a local quilting group.
    After time to run around outside on the grass behind the church for a game of freeze tag, the campers returned inside to enjoy sliced apples and peanut butter with apple juice to drink. They then reassembled in the welcome circle with Alex McDade, who is interning with the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, and Harmony Camp volunteer Macee Pearl.
    Before McDade read the book “Who’s in Rabbit’s House?’ aloud, with Pearl holding the pages up so the campers could see the pictures, she asked what they had learned so far at Harmony Camp.
    Responses included “you can express your feelings,” “sharing with others,” “be nice to each other,” “a good friend is a good person,” “stand up for those who are being bullied,” and “if you want to give someone a hug you have to ask them and if they say ‘no’ you don’t do it but if they say ‘yes’ you hug them” as well as “you can make a soup with rocks” as “Stone Soup” was still on one camper’s mind.
    McDade asked what were some of the favorite Harmony Camp activities. The answers included “making new friends,” “crafts,” and “playing with new friends.”

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