I spent the week after Christmas as a counselor at a MYNA retreat, on a campsite near Dallas, TX. It was my first time in Texas, but not much really to report on how things are different. It seemed just like any other midwest state. The weather was pretty amazing though. The first day we were there, it was like 80 degrees. The entire week it stayed pretty warm.
I had the opportunity to meet alot of really amazing people through the camp. Of course, I had my camera along with me, so I put together some shots to share the experience. Also, I just recently learned how to edit pictures, so I’ve been trying to touch up some of my shots to try and improve them. I didn’t do it as much with these, but you’ll probably see it with even newer work.
Twice during the camp, we had bonfires. It was alot of fun, everyone huddled around the fire and we sang songs and ate smores. Nader was roasting some marshmallows early on in the bonfire in this pic. Kudos to him for sitting so still so I could get this picture to come out right.
Yes. The infamous Musa Syeed. Musa was a counselor for the older group of campers. Here, he’s with one of the campers from Canada. And, of course, there’s the Germ-X…one of the staples of our week, lovely.
Zaki Barzinji, former president of MYNA, stands with his uncle, Musa, in the back of the room at one of the workshops during the retreat. The program was focused around leadership building and training. The workshops were a great way for the kids to learn useful ways to help them develop as leaders and community organizers.
Adam Soliman, current VP of MYNA, hangs out in the back of the classroom during workshops. It looks like we caught him texting…I’m sure it’s official MYNA bidness.
Asif was definitely the real photographer this week. I was just a baby amateur compared to him. Here he is, showin off his skillz.
The one and only, Raef. He joined the group halfway through the week and was kind enough to share his musical talents and to give some talks to the campers. The back of the room is a popular place.
Ok, the real star in this picture is actually Nouman Ali Khan, not the 11 yr. old child/soccer-prodigy wearing the Ronaldinho jersey. Nouman came and blew the kids away with his knowledge and teaching style. If anyone ever has an opportunity to hear him, you should take advantage of it 🙂
Riz!! Riz was part of a small group that attended the camp from England. The kids won a competition hosted by the Muslim Youth Helpline, and got the opportunity to come to this camp. Also check out the link for Muslim Youth.net, they’re doing some pretty amazing things for youth development too. Hopefully, this interaction with other groups increases our own scope.
So, I should explain the picture, too…There were different recreational activities at the camp. This was from the BB gun range. There was also archery, wall-climbing, boating, sports, hiking, and of course…napping.
This is Na’eel. I like to consider myself Na’eel’s unofficial co-counselor. Our groups shared the same cabin, and had some very memorable experiences. Na’eel was amazing all though, all throughout the week. Very inspirational and hecka cool. I didn’t realize how G he was at first, but as the days went by, I’d learn more and more about the awesomeness of Na’eel 🙂
I actually did not realize, until I started writing this post, that Monem Salam was in On A Wing And A Prayer. He visited the camp for a day to speak to the campers and teach them a little bit. I wish more mention would have been made of some of the amazing figures in attendance. We also had Zarqa Nawaz, I don’t have any pictures of her, the creator of the Canadian sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie. She came for a few days and spoke at the end about her experiences.
Na’eel explains something to one of his campers before the workshops start. I have no clue what they were talking about, but it looks pretty heavy.
Raef was putting the finishing touches on a song he wrote with Na’eem Muhammad of Native Deen, who visited at the beginning of the camp. The song, about Gaza, was performed at the entertainment session at the end of the camp.
All throughout the Dining Hall, there were quotes posted, reinforcing concepts of living peacably with nature and the benefits of being connected to the great outdoors. This was my personal favorite.