There you are, a 14-year-old Guide waiting with your fellow Counselors, Guides, and Staff (CGS) for the first bus to come around the corner. You’ve never experienced Camp Mosaic before. You have been training hard for the past month — you’ve bonded with your team, learned all the songs, and played every Magic Box activity — but you’re nervous. You ask yourself: Are you prepared to handle the enthusiasm, energy, and excitement of 125 children?

The rumble of the bus approaches. As you see the apprehensive faces of your participants through the windows, a switch suddenly flicks on. Everyone around you begins to sing in unison for the participants’ arrival, and without even knowing how, you realize the loudest voice is coming from you.

You are ready. You have your Mosaic family around you. You believe in them; they believe in you; you believe in yourself. You’re at Camp Mosaic.

Zahra Hakani, a participant in 2011 who has grown into a Coordinator, shares her experience of doing Camp Mosaic for the first time as CGS: “Mosaic has not only taught me so many skills that I use every day, but it's also taught me what I am passionate about and the things I value.  Every year I come back it teaches me leadership & how to truly work with a team.

So what is Camp Mosaic? Camp Mosaic is a six-day summer camp for rising 1st- to 8th-grade Ismaili youth. In one year, it engages 1500 Participants, 780 Counselors, Guides, and Staff (CGS), and 52 Local Project Team Members (LPT), through 13 camps across 7 regions in the United States. That is 2,332 people shaped each year.

For those of us who have heard of it, we are likely familiar with the songs, the activities, the energy — but that is just what Mosaic is on the surface. Mosaic is really about lifelong relationships, built piece by piece, through meaningful conversations and interactions — a place where participants create bonds with others and find themselves. 

And, what is perhaps most remarkable is that the camp is run entirely by youth.  At a time in their lives when young people are used to hearing that they aren’t old enough, mature enough, experienced enough, or empathetic enough to be leaders, Mosaic tells them that they are. Mosaic empowers youth and, through encouragement, accountability, and a guiding hand develops current and future leaders of the Jamat.

Sofia Babool served as the Content Facilitator for Central Region Junior Camp this summer. She describes her leadership journey: “Mosaic taught me how to remain humble while assertive. Personally, Mosaic has allowed me to take a leadership role that is unlike any other because it forces me to be demanding yet compassionate, always encouraging but requesting accountability. I think that Mosaic has helped me be a better leader, a better Ismaili Muslim, and a better human.”

This summer, Camp Mosaic marks its 25th anniversary. It is a celebration of a quarter-century of Jamati leaders for whom Camp Mosaic has been a part of their development. People who have come through Camp Mosaic have gone on to have a great impact on the Jamat: Mosaic alumni sit on the boards of almost every Jamati institution and have helped found programs nationally and internationally. Camp Mosaic has been developing leaders since its inception in 1995, and will, Inshallah, continue to do so for generations of leaders to come: those bright-eyed, nervous participants on the bus, excited for their first day of camp, will one day be leading the camp, Jamati institutions, and organizations serving humanity.

And yet, Camp Mosaic still has further to grow. Here are some of the things we are working on for the future:

  • Instituting a national eco-friendly initiative to have all camps reach 0 waste
  • Making Camp Mosaic even more inclusive of recent migrants and different traditions
  • Better engaging and enhancing the experience of differently-abled participants and Counselors, Guides and Staff
  • Enhancing parental engagement in Camp Mosaic

Salima Dhanji, a parent from Florida, recounts her son’s first experience at Camp Mosaic this year: “On the last day of camp, Zayden told us that the final assembly is called Opening Ceremonies because ‘this is just the beginning and Camp Mosaic lives in your heart forever!’ He is already asking us to send him to Camp Mosaic again next year!”