From the 13th – 17th of July in our parish of Bunclody, we ran a summer camp for local children entitled ‘Faith Adventure Camp’ and what an adventure it was! Every day was filled with arts and crafts, theatre, songs, dance, and of course plenty of playing in the rain – it is Ireland after all and rain stops for no season! Each morning after prayer, we sat the kids down for a formation talk to start off the day and to explore what their idea of a ‘faith adventure’ was. We had some interesting answers and our goal became to show these young children the joy of the Holy Spirit in everyday adventures and the celebration of faith through learning, teamwork and fun activities.
On the first day, the children were split into two teams. They were assigned patrons: Saint Dominic Savio and the Venerable Antonietta Meo – and got to work creating banners to celebrate these inspiring young people. We started the week with, and had as our goal, the embodying of the lasting message of a young Dominic Savio – “here we make holiness consist in being always cheerful.” Each day the kids did arts and crafts like this, followed by games in the morning and again the afternoon. Despite it being July, the height of summer, the rain was pouring in Ireland and as a result, we had to move all the outdoor activities into a large indoor soccer pitch. Here the kids played games like soccer and dodgeball, all done with the help of some of volunteer parents and older youth in the area.
For the rest of the week, we decided just to embrace the Irish summer in all its glory and try ‘water games’ with the kids. With the help of our volunteers, we all did activities like outdoor slip-and-slides and water races. The kids loved being outside in nature and did everything they could to enjoy themselves, getting absolutely soaked and loving every minute of it. Even if we couldn’t have the sun, we still had plenty of fun!
On Thursday, a play was put on for all the parents. Earlier in the week, the kids had decided amongst themselves who wanted to act and who wanted some extra arts and crafts time creating a backdrop for the stage. In between playing in the rain, they painted and practiced hard all week to create the final product. The play itself was a tale of being kind to those around you while you’re alive and the rewards of Heaven that will follow and went down wonderfully with kids and parents alike. After the play, we held a well earned Barbeque party for everyone to celebrate their hard work. The Irish rain struck again and we had to move the celebration inside where a kitchen fan was used to diffuse the smoke from the barbeque much to the amusement of everyone there. Despite the occasional appearance of the smoke alarm, the evening was a great success and the kids were excited for their final faith adventure of the week that would be taking place the next day.
For our final adventure, we headed to Drogheda, where we were assisted by our volunteers and parents. We brought the kids to St. Peter’s Catholic Church to see the relics of St. Oliver Plunkett, who was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh in the 17th century. He died a martyr in 1681 and was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975 and his head is now held in this church. We were met by a young priest of the parish who showed us the relics and explained the story of St. Oliver. The kids were intrigued by the idea of a saint and the separation of body from soul in the afterlife, creating some interesting questions and discussions among them. We then participated in the Holy Mass before heading out for our last stop of the day – an indoor water park! Everyone was excited at the thought of some warm water after the cold water of the past few days and the kids had a blast racing down slides, playing games and splashing one another. It was a wonderful and wet end to a wet and wonderful week.
We commend our mission in Ireland and its fruits to the care and prayers of Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland.