Camper Joel Kalai, of Lexington, Mass., takes part in a game at the Seeds of Peace summer camp Monday in Otisfield. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

OTISFIELD — The Seeds of Peace camp is getting underway for the first time since the pandemic — but without the international flavor.

Monday’s flag-raising ceremony marks the start of the first of two sessions this summer involving teenagers from the United States. The session features campers from New England and the New York City area.

The camp was originally created to bring together Israeli and Palestinian teenagers to explore their divisions and seek common ground.

It has expanded over the years to include other Middle Eastern countries, along with teenagers from the U.S. who explore their own divisions in hopes of ending hatred and violence.

This summer, there will be no international visitors because of travel restrictions associated with the pandemic.

Instead, the U.S. campers will explore the deep divides in American society, including race, religion, and political differences, while learning how to to address conflicts within their own schools and communities.

Over the past 28 years, more than 7,300 campers have graduated from the program.

Campers sing the Seeds of Peace summer camp song Monday in Otisfield. The Seeds of Peace camp is getting underway for the first time since the pandemic — but without the international flavor. The camp was originally created to bring together Israeli and Palestinian teenagers to find common ground. This summer, there will be no international visitors because of travel restrictions associated with the pandemic. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

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