West of Ireland Family Camp

4th September 2018

The large roadside banner erected at the entrance to the Newmarket on Fergus church camping grounds said it all 'Bring the Family Back'. This was the theme for the 2018 Family Camp causing one local gentleman to ask what was it all about? When told of the challenges facing families today and the need to hear what the Bible says about the value of family he then asked, "Will there be any drink involved?" He was most impressed with the core values of the Church and remarked "We need more of this in our communities."Sharon-IMG_5157

People travelled from the north, south, east and west of Ireland and even from the UK and not just to savour the best camp food ever but also to hear the spiritual messages given over the four-day event. Pastor Leslie Ackie, currently the Director of Family and Children's Ministries at the British Union Conference (BUC), gave very realistic talks on marriage, health relationships and parenting so much so that the youth present were first to arrive at each presentation. Young people today live in a community fragmented by family and relationship challenges and values not in keeping with a Christian lifestyle. As Benjamin, a young college student remarked, "I knew the minute I arrived on the campsite that this event was going to be different from other years and we youth appreciated joining the adults for all of the talks."

Pr-Les-Ackie-IMG_5336This year's camp was also different in that not only one, but two energetic speakers gave presentations. Sharon Platt-McDonald, Director for Health, Women's Ministries and Community Services at the BUC gave dynamic talks on health, forgiveness, emotional health, lifestyle interventions and healing. Sharon gave powerful personal testimonies on the crises that can arise in life and our attitude to them. Sharon enjoyed the open green fields and said, "There is wonderful healing in walking through the trees and grass away from the business of city life."

Campers were not just sitting down listening to talks but in the early morning hours there were keep fit and trigger point sessions, an interesting hike, a bonfire and also indoor games for those who still had some energy left to spend.

A wonderful addition to this year's camp was the presence of the ABC bookshop which sold most of its colourful array of books and gave advice on how to obtain additional resources.

Another first was the setting up of The West of Ireland Camp Committee led by Pastor Lorance Jonson and Pastor Tony O'Rourke. The committee worked hard in ensuring a warm welcome was extended to each camper, the smooth-running of the camp and that the safety and needs of each person were met.

Memories to take away were the powerful spiritual messages, wonderful food, happy young people, beautiful weather, smiling couples, and the aroma of those tasty scones wafting daily from the kitchen.

2019 Family Camp is promised to be bigger and better and the big question is will you be there?

Beannacht agus Slan go foil (Gaelic language) – Blessings and goodbye until we meet again. 

[Betty O’Rourke]

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