Area Christian, Muslim and Jewish Kids Come Together to Learn About Faith, Have Fun
By Dave Woods • Official Kid Mag
Photos by Rachel Lipe
Rukaya Alrubaye, Maren Park and Luu Adler became fast friends during a recent interfaith summer camp hosted by Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. The three kids from various religions learned about each other’s traditions during the weeklong session. It was a first effort for the pastor at Good Shepherd and other youth directors from local churches, a synagogue and the Islamic Center to organize such an event.
Rukaya Alrubaye, a 12-year-old Muslim who attends Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville, was quick to explain the tenants of Islam.
“I’m a Muslim,” she said. “Right now we are fasting because it’s Ramadan. We have Five Pillars of Islam. And one of them is fasting. Another is giving. It’s basically donating. Another is Hajj. Others are faith and prayer.”
Rukaya said she enjoyed getting to know her fellow campers.
“You get to learn what people of different faiths do, like fasting,” she said. “You get to see what they might do during Ramadan, and maybe it’s the same as me and maybe not.”
Maren, a 12-year-old Christian, agreed with his new Muslim friend.
“I had fun getting to know other religions,” he explained. “It’s interesting because you see these similarities and you get to see the differences. The idea that there is one God is universal among the religions here.”
Luu, a 10-year-old Jew who attends Owl Creek School, offered his take on the multi-faith experience.
“Everybody gets to learn about other faiths,” he said. “I learned that Muslims have a mosque that is like our synagogue or a church. It’s different from Christians because Muslims and Jews have different kinds of food requirements.”
During the camp, the kids learned about dietary restrictions adhered to by many Jews and Muslims, such as Halal and Kosher traditions.
After discovering all of the similarities and differences between their religious traditions, when asked, was there anything that would keep them from continuing their friendships after the camp ended? They were quick to answer.
“Absolutely not,” said Rukaya.
“No, definitely not,” offered Maren.
”I haven’t, no,” Luu added. “It’s good other kids get to see what people do with their faith.”
‘It’s pretty cool’
Hearing those kinds of comments is exactly what Pastor Clint Schnukloth hoped for when he and several of his colleagues in the clergy decided to organize their first interfaith summer camp, rather than a traditional vacation Bible school.
“We’ve been developing closer relationships the last many years with the synagogue and Islamic Center,” the pastor said. “We know mutual understanding between the religious traditions is really important, so we decided to have an interfaith camp.”
Deciding on appropriate programming and ensuring that all religious traditions and dietary concerns were taken into account was a top priority.
“A lot of that revolved around representation,” he explained. “We made sure when we had speakers or the volunteers at the (education) stations, there was really good leadership represented from all of the faith communities.”
Pastor Clint said the adult leaders and the older students who served as camp leaders all were impressed with the kids who attended the camp. Everyone, he said, will leave with a greater understanding of their own faith after learning about others.
“The main thing I want them to take away is how to respectfully listen to someone from another religion,” he said. “How to share a little bit about their own with someone that is from a different tradition. We want to give them the tools to be able to do that even better. It’s pretty cool.”