On Friday the 30th of September, the afternoon was abuzz. Groups of boys arrived, bags on backs and padkos in hand. The anticipation for what was to follow was evident on their beaming faces. A total of 25 boys piled up into the kombi awaiting them at Masjid Siratul Jannah in Ormonde, and headed down to the Vaal for a weekend of unforgettable experiences.
As the sun melted away, the boys reached their base camp situated on Dadabhay’s farm in Vanderbijlpark. The group consisted of boys from Johannesburg, Lenasia, and Roshnee, so naturally first thing that needed to take place was a casual meet and greet to shake all the awkwardness off. The tents were pitched and the fires lit, it was a night to get the
ball rolling. The group of 25 were split into groups of three, all of which were mixed, thereby starting the process of these boys engaging new people, and creating a network with them. The groups were names and the war cries were sung out …these young men were ready to rock this weekend!
On Saturday morning while the sun was still down, these young boys rose and stood in line for the call to prayer. But that wasn’t all, after their Fajr Salah, they enjoyed a soothing dhikr to help start their adventure filled day. Each group was delegated a specific task or chore rotating around the needs of the group. So, if group one was in charge of preparing breakfast for the crew, group two would have to manage lunch. It was a rare sight seeing these youngsters handle a
butter knife and cook patties, but together as a group, they got the job done.
The activities began at a place called Rocky ridge in Parys. Splisshhh spplaasssshhhh, swoooosshhh swiisssshhh… in rubber tubes the size of truck tires, the group wading through the vaal river making their way to an island situated along the way. Next up the boys were ducking and diving as paintballs were shot through the air using slingshots, yes slingshots! This was followed by survival of the fittest obstacle course that had these fellows covered in mud and down
on their knees.
After their Asr Salah performed in jamaat, the group huddled around and lent an ear to what Hafez Shaakir Bhyat had to
tell them. What needs to be understood is that the core focus of this camp was to educate and change the perspective and thoughts of these young men. And that did not mean fun and games couldn’t be coupled with it. Hafez Shaakir brought up the topics that most feel uncomfortable to talk about and yet these topics are ones that are integral to the lives of these young boys.
Together, in a circle of newly found friends and ustaadhs these boys were brought to light with topics such as promisquity and pornography and their place in Islam.
The night came to an end around the warmth of a camp fire and some roasted marshmallows. The topic of drugs came up, and for 45 minutes there was an interactive discussion where everyone voiced their opinions and thoughts about this.
Sunday morning brought the boys back to the river for some river-rafting fun. There was a river-raft relay match that had them rowing with all their might, as well as a team building exercise that truly showed how well they were able to work together and navigate themselves. The day came to an end with an Islamic studies quiz, which had the facilitators by surprise to see the strong opinions, sharp minds and competitive nature come to show.
All good must come to an end but all good should also be rewarded. At the end of the the gate-away, there was a small prize ceremony that occurred awarding trophies of 4 merits.
1) Akhlaaq award
2) Salah punctuality award
3) Bangbroek award
4) Braveheart award
Each award was mentioned at the beginning of the camp and it was interesting to see these boys loosen up and show their colours to us.
And that brings us to the end of a weekend unlike any other. It was a time for these boys to grow and explore, to learn and discover. As Ebrahim Seedat, a fellow camper said “I learnt independence, friendship, survival skills, the indescribable beauty of Allah’s creation and most importantly, that your life isn’t over without your cell phone.” The boys left having gained life lessons that will last a lifetime. Adil Chotia said that his most valuable lesson was that when working together you can accomplish anything.
Yes, it was a weekend jam packed with fun, but underlying all of that, the Deen Team managed to reach the minds and hearts of the future of our ummah. It goes to show that our youth have the potential for greatness if only we know how to engage them.
To the youth out there, this was a gate-away that was most definitely the first of many more to come, so hang in there, The Deen Team is to the rescue!