Are you up for the challenge? So don't let boredom knock on your door this summer. Get out and do something!
Summer is here! For some, school is out, work is on hold, and for most young people, BOREDOM reigns the day. Living in a world with so much to do and so many places to go, it is quite ironic how it can still be so easy to have nothing to do!
Luckily, in our communities and centers, there are often programs held in honor of our Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) or to commemorate a special occasion in history. Aside from that, with the recent boom in "youth group activity", there are tons of things that can be done. It is simply a matter of taking the action to do it.
Youth of today usually fall into the same old routine in the summer: "hanging out", which means movies, lunch, or the mall. Who defined "hanging out" anyway?
By no means am I saying it is a bad routine, but it's gotten pretty old! Not only is it old, but the influence of cinema, Hollywood, the music industry, call it what you will, has definitely taken its toll on the character and behaviors of our young Muslims, believe it or not. There is the age-old argument of "Well, that stuff doesn't hurt my faith, so it's okay for me to watch/listen, etc." But let's be honest here, and studies show, that media definitely influences mindsets, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings of people. And this influence is everywhere, from the ads and the displays in the mall to the billboards on the street. Don't believe me? Go do your research.
So what exactly can we do then? I mean, we live in AMERICA, and you're saying I shouldn't go watch a movie or go to a mall? No, what I am saying is that moderation is everything. Limit yourself from indulging too much in a few things, and explore the huge world of options that Allah has bestowed upon us. When people take chances and do different things, this is healthy for their brain and for their general life experience.
Going back to the youth group boom, many youth groups take the initiative to plan something fun, and it is a great idea. Recent activities I have seen being advertised include debates on music, picnics, trips to the nearest "fun zone," trips to a theme park, and even just a get-together at the masjid to refresh relations. All can be fun, if we make it worthwhile. Our youth group here recently took a trip to the Natural Science Museum to check out the Lucy Exhibit (sounds pretty nerdy, right?), and it was a wonderful trip. After our tour of the exhibit, we watched a 3-D movie at the IMAX on the Galapagos Islands, and ended with a circle discussion on "Evolution" as we sat outside and ate our snacks. Nothing too thrilling, but definitely a good change from the ruckus at the mall or the same old Hollywood.
Youth groups can also plan good fundraisers during the summertime: we once held a very successful "cake bake-off". Make it more fun by challenging gender roles and allowing only brothers to participate. Swimming parties are also always fun. For the sisters, those who have pools in their homes can accommodate for an all-sisters physical activities event, which is always a great idea. Other options: basketball tournaments, field days, or even putting together a comedy play for the community, and selling $5 tickets, with proceeds going to the mosque or a charity. The ideas are endless.
Road trips are also a lot of fun. Families, usually when their kids are younger, go on long road trips, but of course when the kids get older, it is a lot harder due to schedule conflicts, etc. Take the time to plan one, even if it's just over the weekend. Make it with your family or even another youth group trip, or even a community trip. Activities like this will keep relationships in the community healthy, which is important in times when people are very sensitive, and communities are struggling in their "unity" efforts. Sometimes it is okay to go outside of the center's doors! Suggest it to your local center, or even better, take the initiative yourself to lead the effort.
And of course, we have the all-famous "conferences". Islamic conferences are always very beneficial and a great way to network and create long-distance bonds. Being able to meet sisters and brothers from different cities, near and far, and coming to know they are going through the same struggles and stages of life is a very comforting feeling. Shia organizations like Muslim Congress, Muslim Students Association-Persian Speaking Group, and United Muslim Association of America hold annual conferences that are usually on long weekends so more people can attend. In addition to conferences, many organizations offer summer camps and retreats where youths members from various different communities can participate and have a great time. Keep your eyes and ears open for information so you can plan your next conference trip or sign up for a youth (or adult) retreat.
Just as the ideas are endless, Islam is endless. Islam has given us so much room for creativity and benefitting one another, it is up to us to use what Islam has given us. Are you up for the challenge?
So don't let boredom knock on your door this summer. Get out and do something!