It was another round of excitement for the children in the CEC Primary School Camp of Church of Divine Mercy, Penang. It was decided that the CEC Primary School Camp would be held on a Sunday and the participation was beyond expectations. A total of 92 children registered with parents supporting by preparing food of all sorts, giving gifts of drinks and as well as extending a helping hand during the sessions. There were also some children from other parishes and some non-Catholics who joined their friends as well. Some children turned up as early 8 am in church even though the camp was scheduled to begin at 9 am. This year the camp facilitators were Carmelita Xavier-Arokiadass and Anuja Xavier.
The camp began with “Praise and Worship” carried out by the Youth Ministry. They were able to connect very well with the young children with action songs and the session ended with the children all fired up. The facilitators divided the children into ten groups in which they elected a team leader. It was encouraging to note that this strategy enabled the children of different ages working together to build up a sense of camaraderie among those in the team throughout the day. Facilitators made it a point to give encouraging words to those teams who showed good communication and team work even though they did not always succeed in the activities.
The first activity was the ‘human bingo’ which served as an ice breaker. Each of the participant needed to fill up the boxes with names of the people who fit the category stated in the list. This activity helped them get to know each other better in a certain amount of time.
In the next session the video of Jonah was screened. The children were guided through the story of Jonah and the way he first avoided doing God’s command and the importance of living a life of Jesus every single day. The facilitator, Anuja, had addressed situations of where the children are able to evangelise by walking the ways of Jesus especially in their everyday situations in home, school and church. It was explained that this is common among us as we sometimes feel afraid of doing the right thing. It was also emphasized that God’s mercy is abundant and He is ever willing to forgive us.
The next exciting activity involved getting the children to reach out for sweets placed high up in the walls without the assistance of any furniture. Then they were told to try again this time with the help of their friends in the team. There was much enthusiasm and laughter as they tried and failed but eventually succeeded. The point to this activity is to instill the importance as Christians to support one another in their daily affair.
In line with the parish’s focus on the Scriptures, the next activity tested the children’s bible knowledge called True or False. A series of biblical facts were read out and the children had to run to the end of the room indicating True or the end indicating False. Fr Martin Arlando, the parish priest who participated with the children made it confusing by running to one end but pointing to the other or just running to stand in the center of the room. This made them think and trust in what they know as correct in their faith.
There was a session on the ways to counter bullying in schools. They were encouraged to address the many situations they have gone through in school. The children were very receptive and were giving away numerous incidences that set fear in their hearts. The facilitator, Carmelita, emphasised that Jesus promised in the scriptures that He is always with them, walking with them, hand in hand and that He will not leave them. This greatly encouraged the participants to be bold at all times and remember that God lives in them and that they have no need to fear to stand up for themselves and for others.
This was further emphasized by drawing the children to an activity called Toothpaste & Toothpick. The children had to squeeze the paste onto a paper and they were told to scoop the paste back into the tube. The moral of this activity was to remind the children that whatever that has been said or done cannot be taken back and that the damage is done. Therefore, forgiveness is crucial so to ensure relationships are restored and to pray for themselves and those who hurt them in return.
In the final session of the camp, each team was given a script from a story in the bible with limited time and they had to mime the story for others to identify it. This session proved how creative our children can be in ways they did the mime with no props. This brought out the amazing talents and gifts that God had blessed them.
The camp was an indeed a task for the two facilitators as they met up to the challenge of dealing with the enthusiastic energy and noise volume of 92 children each wanting to be heard or asking questions. The children learned the importance of evangelising to their friends by showing the values of Christ in their actions, to value of art of team work, scriptural promises from biblical stories and the ways to overcome bullying in a Christian way. It also showed how the Youth Ministry was able to contribute their talents in handling all the Praise and Worship sessions giving much joy to the young ones.
A few parents testified that their children who were not too keen to come for the camp expressed excitement when they returned home. The children shared the various activities with their parents and commented that the activities were very interesting. The parents thanked the facilitators and the teachers for running the camp for their children.
Dr Ivan Filmer
8th June, 2018