Throughout the summer months County Longford Youth Service has been running camps for young children from Granard to Ballymahon and last week the Leader visted the most recent camp in Lanesboro.
Children from the region were engaging in a very informative photography workshop at Lough Ree Co-Op, which was facilitated by Shelley Corcoran and run in conjunction with the Youth Service’s week-long camp in Lanesboro.
“The camps that we run throughout the county are very affordable,” Sarah Jane McNaboe, Co-Ordinator, County Longford Youth Service explained to the Leader. “They cost €15 per child for the week and this includes all types of activities and trips to adventure centres.
“Every year the camps are booked out and in some areas we have even had waiting lists, so they are very popular and the kids love them. Activities include arts and crafts, glass painting, photography, water sports including kayaking, canoeing and basketball, self defence and hockey.”
Eleven-year-old Lucy-Anne Myhill, who is going into 5th Class when she returns to Fermoyle Primary School (PS) this month, attended her first ever summer camp in Lanesboro last week and what an amazing experience it was for her.
“It was such good fun,” she smiled, adding that she also made new friends and was also provided with an opportunity to try new things.
“For me, the camp was opportunity to do something different; we had a photography workshop and it was great. I made new friends and especially with Ciara [Jinks] and I also got to know more people in my locality by coming to the camp. My favourite activity, so far this week was hockey; it was brilliant.”
County Longford Youth Service prides itself on its ethos of encouraging and enhancing children’s development and while the summer camps provide the organisation with the opportunity to do just this.
“We have been running the camps for about eight years and they are becoming more and more popular,” Ms McNaboe added. “It’s all about helping the children with their team building skills, increasing their capacity to learn and to become more aware and it also helps their confidence within themselves to grow. They also get the opportunity to make new friends and to try new and exciting things and they know that the service is there for them whenever they need to access it.”
“My favourite activity was photography,” Ciara Jinks (10) from Tarmonbarry explained excitedly. The 5th Class pupil at Gaelscoil Longfoirt also said that learned a lot of new things through her week long participation in the camp and hopes to become a photographer some day.
“I didn’t know anything about photography until I came to the camp and I found it really interesting,” she added. “We also played volleyball and I loved that. I made a new friend and her name is Lucy-Anne and when I arrived here on the first day, I didn’t know anyone and now I have lots of new friends.”
For Ronan English (11), who hails all the way from Lismacmanus, Lanesboro, the week-long event at Lough Ree Co-Op got him “out of the house” and “meeting new people”.
“I usually watch a lot of TV, so the camp got me out of the house and meeting new people,” he smiled. “I knew some people when I came here on the first day, but I have also made new friends as well and I also got to play hockey which I really loved. I watched it in the Olympics and it was great and we also played a game called ‘Capture the Flag’ down in the park and that was really enjoyable also.”
This is Ronan’s second year to attend County Longford Youth Service camp in Lanesboro and he has been “looking forward” to it all summer.
Like all services within the county, cutbacks are affecting the delivery of programmes and County Longford Youth Service is no different. Already there have been cutbacks to staff and other employees have had their hours cut to 25 hours per week.
“Yes, staff hours and service hours have been reduced and it is perceived that there will be further cuts down the line,” Ms McNaboe added. “We hope that the service will be maintained and that local people will get behind it and support it, because it is vital to the young people of Longford.”
County Longford Youth Service is a non-profit organisation that receives funding from Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL), Department of Education & Skills and the NATC. Its aim is to assist the development of young people in reaching their full potential – personally and socially – and delivers programmes that include youth group, summer camps, advice and information, bullying awareness and peer mentoring.