The smile of the children of Bethlehem in a summer camp
“It’s a joy seeing the children smile – states Sister Anna, coordinator of the summer camp in Bethlehem – as these activities allow them to have fun and at the same time to grow their faith.” This is the summer camp experience at the Franciscan parish of Bethlehem, organised at the premises of Catholic Action, the place of Catechism.
Six activities, 220 children and young people between 6 and 16, two different itineraries of catechesis, 62 volunteer instructors… these are the numbers of the summertime catechism organised with the contribution of the Association pro Terra Sancta. The activities start in the morning with catechesis. Later on there is art, folk dancing, modern dancing, theatre, swimming-pool and chants. The catechesis are differentiated, with very specific approaches: For the youngest ones, there will be a focus on miracles; on the other hand, for the older children there will be a focus on the “heroes in the Bible”, a series of characters that are considered heroes in our faith, like Abraham, Joshua or David. “We use innovative methodologies – explains Sister Anna – as the catechesis is not based on boring lessons. We use a lot of videos and we ask the children and young people to enact the episodes of the Bible that are discussed.”
The camp will finish with a big party where the children will perform in front of their parents the work that they will have done during the activities: crafts, theatre plays and dances. The instructors are all very young and they are all passionate about this experience: “I have so much fun playing with them – says one of them – and the chants are not only a fun activity, as they involve dancing, but also an original way of studying the Catechism.” Fra Lwai, Franciscan from the Custody of the Holy Land who always follows the activities of the summer camp said: “The parents are very happy with the activities that we offer to the children. This camp is having an amazing success and we hope to host even more children next year.”
The daily life in the city of Bethlehem is strongly influenced by the difficulties in the socio-political context, and children are more likely to feel the effects of this situation. For them there aren’t many chances of enjoying balanced experiences while growing up; that’s why promoting and offering initiatives like this camp are especially important.