ICNA’s Family Retreat was held in Harrisburg, PA at the Gifford Pinochet park from July 3rd to 5th. More than 60 families, totaling over 200 individuals, attended the retreat. It was an atmosphere where people prayed together and enjoyed together. Some highlights were food, volleyball, badminton, cycling, and a campfire with a barbecue.
Four programs were held on the theme of “Remembering Allah in Times of Ease and Difficulty,” and were conducted by four different speakers. There was a trail walk every day for 60-90 minutes with children of 2-12 years.
Since there cannot be a camp without food, there were two dinners and two breakfasts provided. For lunch, families were encouraged to hold their own barbecues.
Reflections by Othmane Rifki
Being a student in a big city such as Philadelphia, I usually get drawn into the fast pace of life, cars, noise, and stressful schoolwork that prevents one from sitting down and thinking about one’s own life. Taking some time off to relax and reflect is very necessary for every human being in order to find the essential meaning behind his existence and connect to his Source. The ICNA Family Retreat 2010 allowed me to meet new people and at the same time spend some time reflecting on creation.
I was able to spend time with families that come from different backgrounds, play with fellow brothers, and take little kids on hiking trails, which were very enjoyable for me. There was a nice atmosphere where members of the same family go to experience a different lifestyle: sleeping in one tent, preparing food together, going to the lake, and making a campfire all contributed towards building stronger bonds within the family and also made people appreciate more the gifts that are usually taken for granted.
The second aspect of my camping experience was related to spending some time with myself and nature. Away from man made structures, I enjoyed breathing fresh air, walking in the woods, gazing into the lake, watching wildlife, chasing away mosquitoes, and listening to birds. Everything was vibrant with life; beauty was reflected everywhere. Everything was given life; everything was being sustained in the best patterns.
“Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for men who understand.” (Al-Quran, 3:190). Every being was demonstrating in its own tongue the wisdom and power of its Maker– the sun, animals, trees, and rivers are all interconnected and operating in perfect harmony and balance. If everything is being taken care of and being sustained, so am I. For me, remembrance of God, the theme of the camp, manifested in seeing that trees, animals, water, and air are all coming from Him. This acknowledgment makes us remember God as we are interacting with everything else in our life.