It has nearly been two months since our annual family camp, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. Since many people missed out on this year’s camp, I thought it would be a good idea to share a little on the discussions held during the camp which was attended by 32 members.
Our guest speaker, Brother Abdul Rauf Shokoya, who is a presenter on Ahlulbayt Channel in the U.K., was very impressed with the beautiful surroundings on offer and also commented on the very family orientated atmosphere of the camp, stating that he could see that much effort had gone in to include discussions from the youth of the community which was much appreciated.
Apart from sharing meals together, the group was able to hold many fruitful discussions as well as hike together near Oberalpsee, which unfortunately was still frozen up and so the initial hike around the lake could not take place. However, our newly settled family from U.A.E was able to enjoy seeing and touching our Swiss snow for the first time!
Discussion sessions were held with both youth and adults around Culture and Religion. Many were able to share their understanding of their own culture, defining it and highlighting the positive aspects it presented for developing their identity. Aspects of culture discussed in the session included heritage, roots, upbringing, mother tongue, food and clothing, location, traditions, society and environment. It was very reassuring to conclude that many cultural aspects were important to all members, both young and old, albeit at different levels, and that mutual respect and understanding was necessary to help our youngsters identify themselves with their own culture in the present environment.
The discussion on Religion focused on the necessity of beliefs and the challenges faced by young and old in the present environment. Brother Shokoya shared his experiences of working with certain youth groups in the UK, encouraging them to stay on the right path. It was again reassuring to see that our youngsters were positive about their religious values, and presented an eagerness to learn and develop in this respect. Some concerns were expressed on the need for better guidance as religion was often perceived to be too ritualistic and interpretation of religion was often according to convenience. The new generation has many questions with regard to different religious aspects and need appropriate answers to their ‘why’s’ and ‘why not’s’. There was a strong consensus that culture does benefit our religious evolvement, provided certain aspects of it do not conflict with Islamic values. It was strongly felt that members of a community sharing similar cultural values can contribute towards a collective spiritual growth, helping individuals to strengthen their faith.
A final workshop discussing the advantages and disadvantages of social media, ‘Face-book’ in particular, proved to be an eye-opener for certain adults and helped improve their understanding of this modern concept. It was again reassuring to see that the younger generation is fully aware of the risks around the use of such media and are able to make secure choices and use of the new technology to their own advantage. Adults were also able to get a realistic glimpse into the youngsters day to day life in Switzerland and the challenges it presents for them.
The workshops highlighted many issues that need to be discussed and focused on further in the future to help the community as a whole. Brother Shokoya concluded the weekend by emphasizing on the need for developing the spiritual needs of the parents, so that they are able to raise their children with a strong understanding of their faith, guiding them to make a positive contribution to the global community.
The following suggestions were made at the feedback session to help improve our annual camp:
- Hold more discussions on daily issues in life as Muslims living in Switzerland
- Workshops were sometimes too long – pace was fast (felt rushed)
- Food preparation also felt rushed as members preparing food also wanted to take part in workshops
- Include more sports activities to include young and not-so-young!
- Very good opportunity for youth to be able to discuss with adults, both groups learn from each other
- Find a time when convenient for more members to attend
Thanks a lot for your attendance and contribution.