I just got back from nearly 3 weeks at camp Legacy in the North Central College campus of Chicago, easily one of the best experiences and happiest times of my entire life. Legacy is a faith-based camp with 83 participants (referred to as “scholars”) and over 20 staff members consisting of Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) teachers, skill builders, and counselors. STEP teachers have obtained their Masters degree in religious Islamic education from a prestigious 2 year program in London, Skill builders teach various skills including dance, cooking, public speaking, creative writing, art, and Hindi, and counselors serve as teaching assistants in the classroom. Other staff included nurses, the program director, the manager, and 3 program assistants (PAs) who worked hard night and day behind the scenes to make this camp a success. Scholars were from all across the U.S. from cities such as Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Birmingham, and more- any city that does not have a regular STEP curriculum came to this camp for a crash course of the 7th-10th grade curriculum all crammed into 2 weeks of education, self-exploration, and friendships and memories to last a lifetime.
A typical day was as follows: Wake up at 6am to good music and enthusiastic counselors. Walk 10-15 minutes to morning religious services, all run by the staff and led by the scholars. Breakfast at the college cafeteria. STEP class 1. Skill building. Lunch. Rest hour. STEP class 2. Self-structure (free hour in a beautiful outdoor field). Dinner. Wash up. Evening prayer. Evening program (events such as talent show, zumba, yoga, Devotional night, movie night, and more). Legacy society (separate for boys and girls, milk and brownies, and secret ceremonies to end the day). Bedtime for scholars. Debrief for staff. Planning and prep for next day and sleep if possible. Repeat for 3 of the best weeks of my life.
Evening Program: Talent Show
As a nurse, my responsibilities were to set up the clinic at arrival, including a mobile clinic in a small reg luggage bag we carried around all day, everyday, with a lot more than just the essentials. We also checked in each of the 83 scholars and recorded their essential information and collected and recorded their daily scheduled and PRN (as needed) medications- this was easily one of the busiest days of my life! I worked on documenting daily logs and meds, creating and organizing spreadsheets for supply and medication inventory. Most importantly, I put aside my self and focused entirely on taking care of the entire staff and all scholars- daily meds each morning and night, and helping with sprains, strains, cuts, wounds, sore throats and congestions, and more headaches and nausea and specific illnesses and even non-physical complaints I didn’t think were possible in a 13-16 year old age group. I was exhausted the entire time, but nothing has ever been as rewarding, either. Being called Nurse Fatima on a regular basis as I completed my first official nursing job of my life was just an added bonus. Being a nurse, especially one of the only ones at Camp Legacy, is an experience that cannot be expressed in words. I learned so much everyday and continued improving in my knowledge and skills as a nurse that makes me proud. But there was something greater than that, too. There is a beautiful feeling I’ve never felt that comes from literally dedicating 20 hours a day to go out of your way to ensure the overall health and well-being of others. I could go on for days, but the point is that I felt true compassion for each and every person I come across and am blessed to have the opportunity I did.
Mobile Clinic Supplies
The bests part of camp involved two very important purposes of the camp- finding yourself and living with compassion for others. The camp focused on helping ourselves and each other find out who we are and what our purpose is in life within the greater context of our faith. This included understanding the basic history and beliefs of our religion, being open-minded to other religions as there are multiple paths to God, and knowing the reason why we do all the things we do in our religion. I personally have always considered this to be the most important aspect of existence other than serving and loving others, which I also got the opportunity to do as a nurse and camp staff member. I can honestly say I will never forget the experience of true spiritual renewal away from the problems of the real world, gaining a better knowledge and understanding of my faith and religion, and dedicating myself to serving others within my passion for health and well-being, all while making over 100 lifelong friends and memories and having a great time! I will do everything I can to go back again next year and I already cannot wait.