Churches shine as summer holidays help us engage with children

While it may feel like the summer holidays were a lifetime ago when the rain is battering at the windows, we’re still having the odd sunlit day where we’re reminded that is hasn’t been that long! The Summer holidays were a fantastic opportunity to engage with and serve local children who are otherwise spending most of their time in school. There are all sorts of creative ways of doing this, and churches around the diocese took the opportunity to shine!

In Townhill preparations for holiday club began in June when Rev Alison Jones met with the team to discuss important administration and plan activities, before contacting local partners to provide activities for afternoon sessions.

The church worked in partnership with the Phoenix (Hill Community Development Trust), The Local People Project and other organisations (Dynamix, Circus Eruption, Morriston Play Scheme, Townhill Library, local PCSOs, Cat Protection, Mischief makers) to provide a two week holiday club in Townhill. Funding came from the Diocesan mission fund, the community activation fund (this fund is part of the Local People project where residents decide on where funding is spent in the area) and the CYP (Communities Youth Project, Swansea play team).

They ran a morning session at St Nicholas Church hall which was similar to their regular After School club. There was a choice of activities – football, colouring, tree climbing, games, Playmobil, skipping, clay, loom bands among them. Then we took the children over for lunch at the Phoenix. In the afternoon they walked or ran a Daily Mile, followed by activities from the different organisations.  Children also had the opportunity to take part in leadership training from Dynamix where they worked over two days to organise and deliver a sports afternoon for the younger children. There were forty spaces on the playscheme each day which was oversubscribed, and most days there were more than 35 children. They had two or three paid session workers each day and some volunteers.

Brecon Cathedral was also busy with Family Craft at The Cathedral Close during Brecon Jazz Festival, and earlier in August at the St Eluned’s Summer Fair, Clwb Y Bannau- a Welsh holiday club was run by Fr Mark Clavier with walking, stories, history, digging, dancing, treasure hunt, craft and badge making- and the children particularly enjoyed the Bear Dance! At the end of July young choristers showed off their skills at the Chorister’s Concert before a well-earned summer break. If you’d like to see them performing visit the Swansea & Brecon Diocese Facebook page.

There were several holiday clubs springing up around the diocese for the summer! St Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell ran Pyramid Party Holiday Bible Club, with a group running along side for older children in school years 6-9. Niall the croco-dial was the star, joining Nora and the crew to follow the steps of Joseph and travel down to Egypt.

Blaenwysg Benefice held a holiday club called On Your Marks in Trecastle village hall, which were sports themed activity days. They also ran a Feeding 5000 activity afternoon with craft, story, and games, and finishing with a picnic.

Port Eynon did four crafty days on bible themes over the holidays, including sessions on boats and the seaside, and light conquering darkness. It was a fantastic way to engage with local children and visiting tourists to the beautiful beaches of the Gower.

The Lamplighter Bookshop in Bishopston ran children’s craft and refreshment mornings over the holidays, while St Hillary’s Church Killay had play and craft sessions.

The Eden Bus made its way over to St Paul’s Church Sketty for local teenagers to make use of the nail bar, games console, TVs, board games and music mixing area, while younger children could experiment with water rockets, foam play, craft, baby area and refreshments. St Pauls also ran a holiday club at the end of July/start of August, that had a superhero theme- complete with a daily challenge the vicar slot!

Sian Parkhouse for Greater Gower Deanery shared a Christian presence at the Gower Show in the church tent with lots of crafts for visiting children.

St Thomas made use of their cinema screen to show screenings for local children over the holidays, which ran alongside their Make Lunch programme, with a free lunch, board games and computers, as well as the odd game of football when it stopped raining!

The Diocesan Gateway Camp took place at the end of August at Silver Cross Scout Camp, Penllergaer. A dozen young people from around the diocese joined with a newly formed group of young leaders for a week of teaching, worship, games and building new relationships. The camp was well supported by clergy and there was a bonus that the weather stayed dry! The young people came away with new and deeper relationships and a desire to reform the community next year.

If your church held an event over the summer that we’ve missed then please get in touch with Rachel, Clare, or Sian to let us know. If you’re interested in holding an event next summer and would like some support with ideas and planning, then feel free to get in touch. It’s never too early to start planning for the summer, no matter how small or large scale your event may be! The team would be happy to help and offer ideas to suit any size of vision. (Swansea) (Greater Brecon) (Greater Gower)