London may be home to the highly anticipated 2012 Olympics, but the south county Longford town of Ballymahon has nurtured some Olympians of its own. Earlier this month over 200 children (7-15 years) came together to participate in week-long adventure summer camps held on and close to the nearby River Inny.
As a finale to each of the week long summer camps, the children took part in the Outdoor Discovery Olympics and many of them stood proudly on the podium as they collected their medals.
“The children come from all over Longford and further afield. We even had a child here from the Netherlands,” said Edel Stanley, wife of Outdoor Discovery founder, Alex, and camp manager.
She continued: “Although there were some activities that would be similar to those of the London Olympics (archery, relay races, speed walking and the shot put), others are quite different, such as zorbing, obstacle courses, and bouldering.”
This is the third year of the Outdoor Discovery adventure camps and activities include kayaking, canoeing, white-water rafting, white-water tubing, bush skills, aqua-sphering and giant water rollers.
“It’s all about bringing them out of their comfort zone and into their adventure zone. It’s challenge by choice,” said Mrs Stanley. “They are apprehensive at first, but they are really looking forward to it – this is what gives them that adrenaline rush.”
This year the children also experienced two nights camping and a canoeing expedition down the River Inny from Ballinalack to Ballymahon.
“These adventure camps are huge for building confidence. A lot of camps are about competition but our camps are focused on the fact that they are all in a shared unique experience together – they can arrive shy or outgoing, but within a few hours they are all running around happy out,” said Mrs Stanley.
She added: “There is nobody better than anyone else. Everyone is starting off at the same level and they all have a great time.”