in Sierra de Cazorla Natural Park

December 29th, 2017

The Al Andalus Foundation for Education has taken advantage of these days of general winter vacations to conduct another outdoor camp in the Natural Park of the Sierras of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas, 200 km north of Granada, in the South of Spain.

The camp was open for children between 8 and 15 years and has taken place between December 24th and 27th, 2018. We rented a campsite in the village of El Robledo, in the province of Jaén, 900 meters above sea level, in the Sierra de Segura. We stayed in well-equipped wooden cabins and, given the winter season, we have been the only guests of that camping site, having the whole site at our disposal. The cabins were located on the side of a mountain, surrounded by extensive vegetation, next to a valley through which runs the bed of a small stream that these days was still without water.

We arrived at El Robledo on Sunday 24th at noon and spent the afternoon performing traditional archery (bow and arrows). After Maghreb (Sunset), we sat in a circle and reflected with the boys about was happening at that very moment in many homes of the world: celebrating Christmas. We talked about the origin of Christmas, about what this celebration meant in its origins for the pre-Christian peoples, about how Christianity fused those pagan celebrations in honour of the “Sun God” to turn them into a Christian celebration of the birth of the “Son of God” (may Allah free us from that thought). We also analysed the current consumerist character of Christmas and ended by telling the real story of the birth of the prophet Isa (peace be upon him) and some aspects of his life.

Moments like this offer our boys knowledge about the world in which we live, about the origins of our society and about the meaning of our traditions and customs. We want our youths to acquire the ability to discern between what is our Din and what is not.

Throughout these four days we have made several excursions into the mountains (which naturally included pineapple warfare ;-), walking on trails of great beauty and great environmental richness. Among the vegetation that stands out in this area is the Aleppo pine, the mountain oaks and the bushes and scrubs, which are typical for the Mediterranean mountains. Special mention deserves the rosemary, which abounds in these mountains and gives off a wonderfully refreshing smell.

As for the fauna, the sight of the majestic Golden Eagle has delighted both adults and children! We also saw the huge Griffon Vulture gliding above our heads – this was a really magnificent experience. SubhanaAllah!

We have visited the castles of Muslim origin that once served as vigilantes and protectors of the towns of Segura de la Sierra, Hornos and Cazorla. In the castle of Hornos we visited its Astronomical Observatory, called Cosmolarium, which has ben built into it. There we learned about Astronomy and the Universe.

At night, in the total darkness and lively silence of the mountains, armed with their flashlights, the boys had a great time playing hide and seek among trees, huts and bushes. Before going to bed, sitting by the warmth of the fireplace, we played some more relaxed board games.

This Winter Camp has been a few days during which, in addition to exercising good behaviour among young people, the boys have enjoyed contact with nature, outdoor activities, cultural visits … but, above all, the enjoyed the company of other Muslim boys to whom they feel connected, with whom they share the same value system and the same way of seeing life and to whom they are united by a strong bond: the Din of Islam.