“It was the best thing that happened to me.” These are the words of Sudays Qasim (12), a participant at Awqaf SA’s holiday camp for children. As part of its on-going youth programmes, Awqaf SA conducted a four-day youth camp for children and teenagers between the ages of eight and 15.
The Day Camp was designed to provide young Muslim boys and girls in Johannesburg with an opportunity to learn about their faith, make new friends and explore new hobbies in an environment that allows for both fun and learning. It is hoped that the day camp will be a transformative experience for these young learners and will, insha Allah, instil in them a love for Allah (s.w.t) and His Prophet (s.a.w). The programme consisted of a tarbiyyah (self-development), archery, calligraphy, hiking, and conversational Arabic – all with an underlying Islamic ethos.
Rumaysa (14), shares her experience: “To me, coming to an Islamic camp was very exciting. I go to a non-Islamic school so I was looking forward to making Muslim friends and I have, Alhamdulillah. My favourite thing about the camp was Deen for Teens. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about my religion and I really loved it. Arabic was the hardest but also a lot of fun. I really had fun at this camp.”
The camp falls under one of Awqaf SA’s focus areas: Education and Leadership Development. The objective of which is to provide more dynamic and accessible spaces for youth education and engagement – which is largely absent in the South African Muslim community.
The camp hoped to inspire the students to take on meaningful hobbies, including delving into the Islamic Arts by learning calligraphy. Islamic Arts are thought to reflect the message of Islam and to remind one of the divine reality. The genius of Muslim artists and architects are often forgotten. The camp therefore wished to connect the students with this rich tradition, reminding them of the achievements of Muslim communities, past and present.
The Day Camp took place from the 1st – 4th October 2018 in Emmarentia, Johannesburg. On the final day, the students and facilitators met at the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve for an educational hike. Activities of this nature, we believe, allow the students to reconnect with nature and reflect on the creation of Allah (s.w.t).
Faizan (12) sums up his experience: “The camp inspired me a lot. I made a lot of new friends and I learnt many new things. We learnt about our religion, which helped everyone become closer to God. In calligraphy, we learned how to write the beautiful letters of the Arabic alphabet. In Arabic, we learnt to greet, talk and ask many questions. Archery was one of the best because it’s a great sport and everyone likes it. The facilitators were also really good and kind. I’ll come again any day!”
Awqaf SA and the camp facilitators are encouraged by these young Muslims and will be putting together more frequent youth programmes for them to attend insha Allah. Youth Development, we believe, is critically important in realizing vibrant communities and a resilient society.