Carina, Daniela, Julie and Mariangela, and local facilitator Lorraine McHugh prepared a fantastic Summer Camp, funded by the Leitrim Childcare Committee, for local youngsters and a few Ukrainian children. Between the 4th and 7th of July Ballinaglera Community Hall became a place for children to learn kindness towards others and our environment as well as have fun!

It was amazing to see how Lorraine, through guided meditation, managed to create a place of calmness and relaxation for every single one of the kids. She was an amazing facilitator, teaching compassion, kindness, and respect among everyone!

Our European volunteers curated the activities for the second half of every day. One of the main aims of the camp was to introduce other countries and cultures to the local youngsters, as well as create awareness to climate change.

Day 1 – Friendship and Biodiversity

The first day of the camp Lorraine started by furthering the concept of friendship through Yoga and creative activities. The children were asked to think about what ingredients are needed in a Friendship Soup.

After a break, Mariangela introduced Ukraine, its costumes, gastronomy and culture. To celebrate this beautiful country, each kid painted one petal. With all the petals we created a big Sunflower, which is both a symbol of Ukraine and the Summer Camp.

For the last section of the day, the floor of the hall became Lough Allen and surrounding nature with pictures of local flora and fauna. The kids were divided into teams, and to each was given a list of 5 animals and plants, such as trout, bumblebee, robin, foxgloves flower and meadowsweet.  They had to find them and write the names. This gave them an opportunity to get to know local species and how important they are for the balance of the local ecosystem.

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Day 2 – Affirmations and Recycling

The second day started once again with a yoga session conducted by Lorraine. Yoga was followed by creative mindfulness with the aim to talk and prevent bullying. Each of the youngsters had the opportunity to personalise a rock to their own taste.

After a small break, Carina introduced her country, Portugal. As done for Ukraine, local costumes, culture, and gastronomy was explained. Codfish is considered one of the symbols, given that is widely used in traditional dishes. The first game had everyone fishing for traditional Portuguese food, such as pastel de nata, codfish, ovos moles, pineapple from Azores among others.

To end the day on an environmental note, we prepared a recycling game. Once again, the children were divided in groups. They had to pick up litter that was in the hall, go through an obstacle course and recycle it properly. It is fair to say, that the opportunity to run was probably their favourite part of the game!

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Day 3 – Positivity and Animals

As every other day, the day started off with a yoga session, followed by an activity to promote kindness to self and positivity. With recycled boxes, each of the kids were asked to prepare their own positivity box. The box could be personalised as they wish, but should include words of kindness, compassion, and positivity.

After a break Mariangela, introduced the kids to Italy and explain the country’s culture and curiosities. One of the most famous dishes that originated from this country is pizza, which was the next games’ theme. Children were separated into two teams, each element of the teams was an ingredient. Each team would have a tomato, a peperoni and so on. In the middle there was a person holding a tissue that would call one ingredient at a time, the fastest getting to the tissue won.

To finish the day, Julie painted half of the kids’ faces as bunnies and the other half as foxes. They also had ears accordingly. The game aim was to demonstrate that in nature and every ecosystem there are various animals and plants which have various roles within the food chain. The foxes had to get the bunnies tails, while the bunnies tried to get some leaves.  

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Day 4 – Dancing for the Planet

For the last day Daniela, had the opportunity to introduce Spain. Just as done in previous days, costumes, gastronomy, and culture were introduced.

All the previous days, we finished by teaching all the kids the dance to an environmental song: Earth, We’re in it together. This last day was fully dedicated to rehearsal the dance. The song is an amazing way to create awareness of how our actions in this planet affect more than just us. It also teaches everyone to be kinder and more conscient of our daily actions.

At the end of the day all the parents and some locals were invited to see the final performance of the dance and a guitar number prepared by Eugene Mctiernan.

Both GEAI and Lorraine could not be happier by the amazing reaction from both the kids and the parents. The main goal was to create a safe and fun space for local youngsters, and that was indeed achieved! As a souvenir from the camp, each of the kids took home a small coloring book with symbols of each of the countries introduced. In the last page they had the lyrics to the song performed. The book can be found here.

Our ESC volunteers ended this experience with extra appreciation for the role of teachers and their amazing work! It is fantastic to have the opportunity to interact with the local community, as well as create tools to deal with feelings and any language barriers. We hope that the next Summer Camp, for the Ukrainian kids staying in Drumshanbo, is as successful and rewarding as this was!

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Earth – We’re in it Together

Earth

Earth

We’re in it together

Forever and ever

Saving our water, land and air

This is our planet to share !

We need clean air around us all

Land to walk on and waterfalls

But the world is changing day by day

Listen to what we say !

One by one we can spread the news

About how to stop pollution blues

Together we are reaching out to you

To help us to save the Earth !

Earth We’re in it together

Forever and ever

Saving our water, land and air

This is our planet to share !

Imagine our world clean and litter-free

From the ocean to the sky

Join our hands , share the vision we can see

Let’s begin by taking pride !

By taking pride !

Earth We’re in it together

Forever and ever

Saving our water, land and air

This is our planet to share !

This is our planet to share !

Together we can show we care

This is our Earth to share !

We’re in it together !

Written by: Carina Castanheta