Australian Baha'i Sites

‘A society built on unity’: Family camps deepen understanding of Baha’u’llah’s vision 

For the past 11 years, the Baha’is of Box Hill have been working closely with the local Chinese community to strengthen the capacity-building process unfolding in the neighbourhood. 

“Most families live within Box Hill and its surrounding suburbs,” the Box Hill team’s Farzam Shabani says. “The activities that happen now try to involve whole families. And parents have a great drive and input into the activities and the encouragement of their children to participate.” 

More than 50 people attended the Box Hill family camp at Mount Morton during the January holidays.
Participants at the Box Hill family camp gather at the Mount Morton Baha’iCentre of Learning.

At the beginning of the year, Box Hill hosted its annual family camp, with more than 50 participants praying, studying and reflecting on the local community building process. 

Held at the Mount Morton Baha’i Centre of Learning, the camp was held over three days and provided a glimpse into the Baha’i educational process, with activities for all ages including a playgroup, children’s classes, junior youth groups and a parent program. 

The aim of the camp was twofold – to strengthen the bonds between new and existing families taking part in the educational endeavours, while also delving deep into the community-building efforts and reflecting on how to be of even greater service in the Box Hill neighbourhood. 

More than 50 people attended the Box Hill family camp

“Everyone is studying the institute content in some form of shape,” Farzam says. “We would also put in time for group activities such as a scavenger hunt, water play, campfire and collective group games. A group of parents formed a food committee to help prepare dinners.” 

Farzam says there are plans to increase the camps’ frequency and even host mini camps as capacity is strengthened. Outside of the family camps, regular connection and activity is crucial to the neighbourhood’s growth process.  

“(It’s beautiful) To see trust being built, whole family involvement, and a spirit of mutual support and assistance highlighted from cooking together, performing together, helping look after each other’s children, welcoming new families, and starting the day with mindfulness through devotional prayers.”

Farzam Shabani

The Box Hill core team makes a concerted effort to keep connected with friends on the daily, with weekly core activities acting as the “pulse” and Wednesday planning and reflection meetings vital to the proper functioning of the community’s development. 

“There is also a mother’s group of young children that stay connected via WhatsApp and meet up for play dates when they can – a means of supporting one another,” Farzam says. 

“Some mothers really took charge in areas of the camp administration, planning the talent show, designing the dinner menu and managing the food committee to cook together. The core families planned the parents’ session for the camp, going back to Book 1 to prepare the sessions.” 

Farzam says it’s been beautiful to witness a glimpse of what a society built on unity, love and joy can look like. 

“To see trust being built, whole family involvement, and a spirit of mutual support and assistance highlighted from cooking together, performing together, helping look after each other’s children, welcoming new families, and starting the day with mindfulness through devotional prayers. 

“You see a transformation in those few days, like when parents see their children say prayers on stage for the first time when usually they would be too shy. 

“(The camps) are spaces to really help deepen friendships as you spend a lot of time together.” 

Thanks for reading.

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Box Hill

Discover how the neighbourhood of Box Hill in Melbourne, Victoria is working together to build a vibrant and outward-looking community.

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Published in February, 2024, in Community Stories > Community Building

Available online at: horizons.bahai.org.au/community-stories/glimpse-of-a-society-built-on-unity-family-camps-deepen-understanding-of-bahaullahs-vision/

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