Seeds of Peace campers from Pakistan, Jordan, Palestine and Israel cheered and sang at opening ceremonies last summer. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Seeds of Peace has canceled both sessions of its annual summer camp in Otisfield because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Josh Thomas, interim executive director of Seeds of Peace, told supporters recently that it was a tough decision.

“We know many people will be disappointed,” he said, but “pulling together camp under normal circumstances is complicated” and “with so much uncertainty around the global health and travel situation, we simply cannot anticipate or prepare for all the potential risks that we might face this summer, from sickness at camp to travel disruptions.”

Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit which has an annual budget of more than $7.4 million, typically brings hundreds of young people from a wide range of places to Maine for its acclaimed program aiming to create leaders who can bridge the gap between clashing communities.

Over the years, it has brought more than 7,300 young people from 27 countries to its programs.

Camp officials realized in March they could not resolve logistical issues, particularly those involving travel, with so many government offices, schools and other organizations closed.

Thomas said, though, that “even without camp this summer, Seeds of Peace will continue.”

“Over the summer and fall, we will organize a series of community conversations, both in person and online, for Seeds, educators, board members, staff and supporters to talk together about our vision, strategy, and impact,” he said.

In a nod toward a controversy that rocked the program earlier this year, Thomas said, “We will use this time to update our program, so we can continue to offer a best-in-class experience to all our participants for years to come.”

“We will resume regional programs as soon as circumstances allow,” Thomas said, and will “move quickly to make plans for next summer, and to open applications as soon as possible.”

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