“You don’t realise Faith is all you need, until Faith is all you have..”

Saturday July 26th 2014

Last month’s blog ended with the buzz of pre-camp excitement prior to Derry welcoming it’s second year of the Michaela Foundation Girls Summer Camp, however this month’s blog begins with a seriously severe case of MCB. (Michaela Camp Blues – all credit to Megan Burns for that one). For the second year running, St. Patrick’s Primary School in Maghera opened it’s doors to on the up of 75 young ladies who filled the halls of the usually empty building during the summer period with music, song, chat and laughter for the entirety of the week.

The camp welcomed back what was estimated to be around two thirds of the girls whom attended last year which paid tribute to the huge success and impact that the Michaela Foundation has had on the girls who were blessed enough to attend the camp, and the ever increasing numbers and new recruits from both the campettes and leaders perspective was testimony to the growth of the foundation, and proof of the success of the ripple effect that the Foundation has had. Ironically, last year the theme of the camp was that of the growth of the Mustard Seed, and without a shadow of doubt, the seed planted in beginning the camp in Derry last year has blossomed and reached out its branches to many individuals, both young and that little bit older, across the county.

Upon our return to the camp this year, I think I speak for most of the leaders when I say we were all very apprehensive about our return. Whilst excitement was building in the weeks coming up to the camp itself, nerves soon kicked in as to what lay in store for us. Expectations were rising – would this year’s camp live up to our expectations after last year? Would we all be as close as we were? Would the new volunteers feel out of place? Will we be as friendly with the campettes as we were last year? Of course, however, all doubts were swiftly pushed aside early on Monday morning when Campa Dhoire chants were in full swing, campettes were as noisy as ever, and each and every leader quickly established themselves as not only part of a very unique team, but as friends.

This year, I felt quite a lot of pressure as the element in which I was placed changed. Previously, I was part of the ‘Failte’ team, however this year, I became part of the Faith team. I had become used to the way in which the Failte element worked – I knew the girls within this team very well after spending a full week with them last year, and whilst the prospects of the Faith element were very exciting upon reading through the Camp Guide, I couldn’t help the nervous butterflies that could not be suppressed all day on Sunday.

I’ve always said I’ve had a very basic faith. Whilst I have the upmost respect and genuine admiration for the many people who pray Novena’s each month and have been on a list of Pilgrimages the length of your arm, of which I’m sure they have undoubtedly reaped the rewards, on a personal level, I have always struggled with such ways of praying. For me, I would much rather have a conversation with God than pick up a prayer displayed beautifully on a laminated leaflet, but of which I actually understand nothing. Being given the opportunity to share my faith experiences with the Michaela Foundation through the Student Award Scheme, however, gave me a degree of confidence, in that it’s okay to have a somewhat basic faith, and allowed me the chance to share my faith through my blogs with you lovely readers. However, passing on such a faith through word of mouth to groups of up to twenty bright eyed and bushy tailed 11-13 year olds presented me, amongst the other leaders with somewhat of a challenge, particularly when faith is such a personal thing to each individual, this can be somewhat tricky to gauge. I began to doubt my own ability in acting as some form of a role model for these young ladies, until it struck me that they are actually no different from me. Aside from the age difference, these girls, aged between 11 and 13, so consequently most of which are undergoing the transition from primary school to post-primary education, are going through exactly what I experienced from September last year in my move on to third level education. Granted, yes, moving away from home was slightly different than moving school, when talking to the campettes, the emotions and feelings that the girls were trying to manage were absolutely no different from that of my own this year.

Thankfully, we were blessed with wonderful campettes who opened their hearts and minds completely and took on board (pardon the pun – Cycle B boat theme!) the ethos and values that the Michaela Foundation set out to instil in each of these young women. I have no doubt that they made the camp the huge success that it once again was this year, with many happy memories to cherish forever. I’ll leave you this month with a thought from one of our campettes this year – “You don’t realise that faith is all you need, until faith is all you have”. And on that note, I’m sure you’ll all agree that the future is, without doubt, very, VERY bright!

Until next month,

God bless,

Eiméar