Spring break may conjure up images of college students partying wildly on sandy beaches, but it doesn't have to be spent this way only.
Consider the time off as a kind of practice run for summer break, when kids have continuous free time and little to do…unless you're well prepared.
Here are a couple of ideas to jump start the process of planning a great spring break.
1. Visit/host a relative or friend you haven't before
Islam puts a premium on maintaining good relations not only with parents, spouses and siblings but our extended families as well. Many times, it's life's busyness that gets in the way of keeping in touch or getting to know each other better.
Spring break is an ideal time to visit or host a member of your extended family. Use the moments together to reminisce, reconnect or revive your relationship with a relative.
2. Take a road trip to the country's only Muslim Museum
Jacksonville, Mississippi is home to America's only Muslim museum. The International Museum of Muslim Cultures is an excellent way to learn about and teach your family hands-on examples of the Islamic history you read about in books.
3. Find a local Muslim community cause to work on
Remember how you really wanted to help your mosque rebuild its website or set up a recycling plan for the Masjid? This is the time to do it. Use spring break to hunker down and finally call the hosting company and work on content and maintenance for the site or to contact the local park district to see how to start off getting the recycling boxes and arranging for pick up. Make sure to delegate tasks, especially to tweens and teens.
Finding a cause and giving it at least a week's worth of focused attention will help kids, in particular, develop the skills and confidence needed for future success.
4. Have your teen find an internship
Kick off the summer job search now by helping your teen find an internship at a company they'd be interested in working for in the summer. Not only will it help them decide if they want to continue there or not, it will offer the requisite experience needed for possible employment in the future.
5. Volunteer as a group
Giving back through volunteering is great but doing it as a group is even better. Not only is this a good way to pool skills and talents for a good cause, it's more fun than going at it alone.
Whether it's your local food depository, Habitat for Humanity or any other cause you've been meaning to get involved in but just haven't had the time to, this is your opportunity. Offering your time during the spring break will not only offer you and your family a good way to spend time together. It will also give you an idea of whether or not you'd want to continue volunteering for the cause come summer.
6. Go maple sugaring
A nice way to get outdoors and do something a little different is to attend the countless maple sugaring activities around the northern states of the U.S. March is the best month for this. Don't forget to bring a bottle of maple syrup back home.
7. Visit a farm
Plenty of baby animals are born in the spring and visiting a farm at this time will be the ultimate treat for younger children, animal lovers of any age or your budding veterinarian.
8. Visit five new places/attractions in your city
If you live in a big city or near one, visit its website or that of its tourism bureau. You may already have a list you've been compiling of local things to check out. Now is the time to put it to use. Don't forget the camera or the video recorder.
9. Visit a Masjid/day followed by lunch at a nearby Halal restaurant
If you've got several mosques in your, spend the week visiting a different one each day, followed by lunch or dinner at a local Halal restaurant. If possible, call the Masjid in advance and see if you can get a “tour guide” who can offer info about the mosque's history and can show you around.
10. Go museum and attraction hopping
There are virtually all kinds of museums in North America, ranging from the big ones focusing on natural history (like the Field Museum in Chicago) to those that focus on surgical science (also in Chicago) or the history of your own town or city. Plan a trip to a museum or attraction a day. Here's a useful resource.
11. Breathe in that fresh spring air at a National Park
America has beautiful national parks that offer visitors a close up look at not only nature but all kinds of fauna and flora. With the weather getting warmer, it's an ideal time to visit, before nature buffs crowd up the space in the summer months. If it's warm enough consider camping. Some interesting things you could do include praying under the open sky, driving up the to a mountaintop, bird watching or collecting rocks. Begin your search here.
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