A Parent’s Reflections on Al-Bustan Camp  

Our family was so happy when we learned that al-Bustan would be offering in person camp again this summer. The summer of 2019 was our first time enrolling and we were very impressed with the programs, the teachers, and other staff. We are an Egyptian and American family and we have been so grateful to find an organization devoted to sharing the rich cultural heritage and contributions from the Arab world, and in a truly inclusive manner. We have also come to appreciate al-Bustan’s commitment to building community and drawing connections in the Philly area, even for those who do not identify with Arab heritage. So of course, we signed up for camp right away.

Campers playing a game with a counselor

Our rising third grader had faced difficulties with the school closings and online learning, as many kids did. So we were extra excited that he would have the chance to learn and play entirely outside at the unique Bartram’s Garden. Then, we were surprised to find our child struggling and resisting staying at camp. It demonstrated for us how great the impact of the pandemic had been, disrupting regular routines and activities at such a formative age. All of the al-Bustan staff, from the counselors to the director, were extraordinarily supportive. They were patient, attentive, and warm with him, while respecting his need to work through his discomfort and anxiety in his own ways. This left a big impression on us, and it demonstrated the love and dedication that the al-Bustan team brings to their work.

Campers learning about storytelling with our camp teacher, Nashid Ali

Once he adapted to the drop-off each day, our son settled into the activities, made friends, and found ways to share his interests while exploring new ones. The teachers and counselors helped him find creative ways to try new things when he hesitated to participate. We are so grateful that he had this special time devoted to music, story-telling, visual arts, and exploring the natural world, while also gaining a familiarity and appreciation of an important part of his family heritage. 

Campers on the last day of camp

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