Here at Repair the World, we have been big fans of Eden Village Camp – the Jewish organic farm camp – since the get go. We have profiled their awesome summer program, with its environmentally-focused, hands-on, empowering approach to summer camp education. We even volunteered to help them build their greenhouse!

So we were very psyched to see Putnam Valley, New York-based program profiled recently in the New York Times for its innovative and gutsy “no body talk” policy, which aims to shift kids’ and preteens’ awareness from a body image and style-driven focus to deeper engagement with one another. Check out the excerpt, and read the full piece at The New York Times’ website:

No Body Talk at Summer Camps
New York Times, July 18, 2014

“Last August, on a clear summer day, Tom and Maura Gould were driving their 12-year-old daughter from Eden Village, an organic farming camp in Putnam Valley, N.Y., to their home in Cambridge, Mass., when they started talking about family members who were particularly hairy.

“Why would you want to talk about that?” their daughter, Aviva, asked from the back seat. “There are much better things to talk about than someone’s looks.”

For many people, including children, talking about physical attributes would be no big deal. But for Aviva, this kind of talk sounded an alarm, mostly because she had not heard it at camp.

At Eden Village, staff members and campers follow something called the “no body talk” rule. “The specific rule is while at camp, we take a break from mentioning physical appearance, including clothing,” said Vivian Stadlin, who founded the camp six years ago with her husband, Yoni Stadlin. “And it’s about myself or others, be it negative, neutral or even positive.”

On Friday afternoon, when the campers, girls and boys from 8 to 17, are dressed in white and especially polished for the Sabbath, they refrain from complimenting one another’s appearances. Rather, they say, “Your soul shines” or “I feel so happy to be around you” or “Your smile lights up the world,” Ms. Stadlin said.

Signs posted on the mirrors in the bathroom read, “Don’t check your appearance, check your soul.”

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