As North America’s Muslim population grows, summer camps for Muslim kids are becoming popular in the United States and Canada. The reason – some Muslim kids are becoming more immersed in America than they are the original cultures of their parents, and parents are looking for ways to keep them immersed in the Muslim faith instead.
Mona Eldadah started the “Next Wave Muslim Initiative” camp four years ago, as a way to get fasting Muslim kids off the couch during the month of Ramadan. It’s a week-long camp at the end of the month, where kids can “fast together while also doing activities that are more enriching than watching Netflix.”
This year, held at the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, the camp reached its largest enrollment yet, with 101 campers, and has gained a reputation as a place where Muslim kids can learn about and practice a core Muslim tradition, reports the Washington Post.
The youngest children, ages 3 to 5, learned about the animals of the Koran. (“Old Mustafa had a farm,” they sang at the last day’s assembly in a muddle of high-pitched, off-tempo toddler voices. “And on that farm he had some bees — with the blessing of Allaaaaah.”)
The 6- and 7-year-olds went on a hike to a nearby cave to learn about how the prophet Muhammad visited a cave outside of Mecca, where Islam teaches that he received the word of God. And the 8- and 9-year-olds decided to make their end-of-camp skit about the animated characters from the movie “Minions” observing Ramadan.
And the 12- to 16-year-olds met the Afghan American author Nadia Hashimi, who read them a passage from her new book, “One Half from the East,” about an Afghan girl whose parents disguise her as a boy so that she can help provide for the family in a restrictive Afghan society.
The kids come from varied Muslim backgrounds – some of the girls wear shorts and t-shirts, while others wear headscarves. Some come from families who attend the mosque regularly, while others never attend. All the kids, ages 12-16, are fasting, and every day at noon all the kids meet in the auditorium, stand shoulder to shoulder and kneel for prayer.
On the last day of camp, bashing Donald Trump was part of the grand finale:
It was the last day of Camp Ramadan, and a sea of smiling parents had their arms outstretched, holding up more than a dozen cellphones to capture all of the song and dance and children’s humor contained in the end-of-camp assembly. And onstage, a normally polite and bookish 11-year-old was channeling Donald Trump.
“As a leader, who do you wish to serve?” a child, playing the role of debate interviewer, asked the boy’s character — a certain political candidate with the alias of Ronald McDonald.
“I wish to serve my very fantastic self,” answered Amir-Abbas, 11, provoking peals of laughter from the parents. Money, he told the interviewer, is the key to great leadership — and he had lots of it.
“I’m trying to make America great again by kicking out Mexicans, Muslims and African Americans,” he added.
“By the way,” he said, sweeping a hand over his dark, cropped hair. “This hair is real.”
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