Eilis Blog 4

Sunday September 2nd 2012

For this month’s blog I have decided to write about the fantastic girl’s summer camp that ran from Monday 16th until Friday 20th of July in honour of Michaela. Having been in a position to volunteer I jumped at the opportunity. This would be a chance for me to come into contact with her friends and family and come face to face with Michaela’s beliefs and customs and learn more about her life on a personal level. Held in the primary school in which Michaela attended near Ballygawley, Glencull played host to the 68 young teenage girls who were able to concentrate on the five core elements that were faith, fashion, Irish, well-being and fun.
This was a unique camp in the fact that all the focus was on the girls themselves and about their development into young ladies. The packed schedule allowed them to concentrate on their own personalities, individuality, encouraging self-belief and raising their self-esteem. Each of the girls in attendance got to spend an hour in each element every day, faith proving to be a big hit. This was a special meditative period where the girls listened to stories and reflected on their relationship with God using traditional methods as well as song. Mickey, Michaela’s father spoke to the girls about their faith journey and what faith meant to her. The touching and emotional tales were very special and impacted the girls instantaneously. The Rosary was a very prominent aspect of Michaela’s life so in turn the girls learned about the different mysteries and the meaning behind them. On the last day the girls formed the shape of Rosary beads marked out with Helium balloons, each decade represented by a different colour and also each element of the camp.
The more energy charged activities included Zumba and hip-hop dancing. The girls covered many other activities in which Michaela had particular interest in, fashion for example the girls got the opportunity to make their very own hair fascinators and explored their artistic sides through the medium of nail art and even tried their hand at hairdressing learning how to do the most recent pin ups and styles. There was everything imaginable including the making of bath bombs, flower arranging and fruit cocktails. In the Irish element in which I was directly involved the girls learned prayers in Irish and Amhrán na bhFiann as well as participating in a few Céilí dances and fun games. The Hakka, which you may have seen televised on the news, received a very warm reception from both the girls and the whole team of volunteers alike. Although the words were in Irish, the feelings, body language and emotion portrayed during the short dance performance would have made the Kiwi’s themselves proud. Throughout the week, the foundations motto of ‘life without limits’ was very evident.
The girls received an exclusive jersey as a momentum of the first Michaela Camp for keeps sake. I know that everyone enjoyed themselves and felt that their lives were most definitely enriched after the weeklong event. On a personal note I now feel that I know more about Michaela and the fact that I represent her foundation through the student award scheme is much more significant having experienced her values first hand and was made feel very welcome. The Camp was a huge success and Michaela’s life was beautifully celebrated on the final day concluding with a mass in which all the girls were involved. Her memory is fully alive and will be flourishing through all the little gems that attended the week as they cherish the memories. Every detail was so well organised and the planning was perfected before the event actually started, huge credit is due to the overall organisers. Both the Harte and McAreavey families were involved, displaying tremendous strength and courage. They were delighted at the success and find solace in the fact that Michaela’s legacy lives on strong and will continue to do so. I would encourage any young teenage girl that has the opportunity to attend this camp in the future to do so because the experience is inspiring and rewarding.
To all the girls that did attend the camp I hope your summer holidays are going well and I hope to see you all again next year. Slán tamall, Eilís