A lot of my readers may have heard of CAMP- Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals.
Most people think that CAMP is a "pick-up joint", "marriage organisation", "inter-mixing social club" etc. Perhaps its true that people may join it for that intention.
I wanted to share my "version" of the CAMP's vision. Good role-players in any organisation come with their goals. They have to fulfill their responsibilities keeping in mind their goals- what they want to achieve. The Leader of the organisation is responsible for getting all the leaders on the same platform- One vision for all.
In the last few years, I've been in the scene of many organisations. To list a few: CAIR Can Toronto, CIC, MSA @ UofT St George, ICNA Relief, FMW, CAMP Toronto, CAMP Intl, MAC, MAC Youth Give, Antiwar, ISNA, IRFAN, MAP, IMAP IT, DawaNet, YM, YM Academics, TorontoMuslims, RIS, NAMF, UM.
I'm a big fan of evaluation reports. The evaluation report of the biggest event I had led and organised was 15 pages long. And through my volunteer work, I analyse leadership structures, people dynamics and learning curves.
If it wasn't so late in the night, I'd go into how I got involved with CAMP, but I'll just stick to the vision inshallah. I've been part of CAMP for 2 years now, initially serving as their leadership development coordinator.
First, I'll state what is required for the CAMP ideology to work:
- Modelling the way
- Inspiring a shared vision
- Enable others to act
- Challenging the process
- Encouraging the heart
[By the way, these 5 points are what makes school teachers and principals good leaders]
CAMP has grown marvelously, with full-fledged chapters spread across North America. They organise events- socials, sports, recreational, book clubs, dinners, and much more. CAMP now also has a sister organisation called CAMP Cares, which is the community/charitable wing, to give CAMP members recognition for their community work under the banner of CAMP. I attribute the growth of CAMP to 2-3 leaders who are extremely outgoing, committed and visionaries. CAMP also works with the policy of "mutual benefit" with most organisations. And this is what the organisers of, for example, MuslimFest are learning- The importance of mutual cooperation.
A lot of organisations have collapsible structures. They have problems such as: the older uncles not giving up, ethnic conflicts, finger-pointing, stretched-out resources, short-sightedness, etc. Such organisations are like weeds. They wont last long, they're wasting good resources, they're depleting their people, etc.
CAMP members are qualified professionals. These are the people who are run the economy, make political decisions, manage people, invent technology, etc. MAC, Muslim Association of Canada is an organisation that's devoted to "training" Muslims. If MAC is a wise organisation, it would train the CAMP professionals. However, some key players in MAC think that they should focus on training the younger group because that has far-reaching effects. True, but what about people who're already out there, they just need some orientation, but they are in a position to make decisions that would positively effect the society?
The problem in our (Toronto) community is that we're stretched out on resources and we lack good leadership. Everyone knows this. At any given time I work with several organisations so I know it. And I've also built foundations for several projects that people were dreaming about, but couldn't to launch them.
My vision for CAMP:
I believe CAMP is going to continue growing very fast. So far, the backbone has been these 2-3 people. (I wish I could name them here, but I dont want to reduce their award). If for the next few years we continue to have an influx of good quality leaders, CAMP will be more than just an organisation of Muslim professionals- It will be a training centre, the largest network of Muslims, established in community services, perhaps even with a rich philanthropic wing...
The 5 points I mentioned about, I have seen them in CAMP's leaders. These current CAMP leaders need to continue training the incoming leaders. CAMP leaders do a good job of identifying committed people from their members. There's no agreement, deal, commitment- people join in easily. Unlike in some organisations where you feel a lot of pressure, or even dont have the option of quitting once you're in. Now, it's true that not everything CAMP does can be classified as 100% halal. All their events are mixed. I consider it a big issue. A book club or even a movie night could pass, but perhaps rafting wont. So, which way is CAMP headed? In order to fix that, CAMP needs to get good scholars on an advisory board. And that's where a training wing is extremely important- train Muslims to realise their position in the community, their relationship with Allah (swt) and the importance of personal development.
On Friday congregations.. all sorts of Muslims assemble. Most of them don't even pay attention to what the Imam is saying. It's the same type of thing with CAMP. It's a big crowd of a mix of people- from the most religious to the least. Through wisdom and communication in various forms, the leaders are shaping their members for a better society.