At the end of the 2018 Holiday Club one of the Harbour Lights children suggested we do an under the sea themed holiday club in 2019. A great visual and plenty of scope for material. It didn’t take long for a few volunteers to home in on the story of Jonah as the core Bible teaching, and from October onwards we met and devised our own resource. This included teaching for the children and teaching for the volunteers. The ‘Dummies Guide to Jonah’ was very helpful in enabling the team to see the simple gospel message being mirrored in Jonah’s story. The team were off to a good start as we were all on the same page.
Every church in Dunbar was represented by volunteers at the 2019 Holiday Club. Some might say that was its greatest achievement. It was certainly impressive to see such a variety of talent being used in service for God. I am sure that will make an impression on those outside of the Christian community of Dunbar.
Bookings for the Holiday Club opened in May and, mainly by word of mouth and through our contacts at Harbour Lights and different churches, we were close to capacity before the doors even opened. Our thanks go to Kathryn Robertson, DACYP’s Admin Worker, who managed the bookings and sorted out groups. Those booked in were in the traditional senses, unchurched. Several of them were however from Harbour Lights…which in their words is ‘our church’.
New for 2019 was the decision to allow for some of the P7 leavers to volunteer as Trainee Junior Leaders. This was risky as we were unsure of their suitability and maturity. However they shone and made life easier for everyone and were a hit with the children.
Numbers don’t always mean much but we averaged around 65-70 each day. We had very little drop out and gained a few extras in some groups. At our family event on the last day we think there were around 80-90 other people attending. Many were very young siblings, but there was also grannies, big sisters, dads and others. It was especially nice to see Holiday Clubbers of years gone by calling in.
The programme included crafts, songs, games, discussions, Bible story telling, memory verses, Whacky Warm Up’s and lots of snacks. Cakes, fruit and cheese kept appearing. Never too little to feed us all. Our thanks extend to those who supplied it and served it.
Our hand crafted programme seemed to have the desired effect of enabling children to talk about the story of Jonah and relate it to their own lives. With it came some good discussions, even with the very young children. For example, the day we talked about darkness, several shared personal examples of darkness in their lives. They also liked the memory verse and other songs. It was the words of ‘Deep Deep Place’ that seemed to resonate with many. It was a special moment hearing 70 children sing the words ‘where are you God?’
Holiday Club follow up - Last year DCT were alerted to the opportunities missed by the churches in not having a follow up plan for Holiday Club. Things have progressed and I am glad to say the following are happening:
- Messy Church at Belhaven. This has already happened since Holiday Club and brought in some new folk to the church.
- Messy Church at Dunglass will soon be happening too.
- St Anne’s are working closely with Harbour Lights to arrange a number of special events or services that target the Holiday Club children and families.
There are probably many more opportunities to take linked to Holiday Club. Churches should keep exploring if this ministry opens other doors and consider responding. Who knows, this might even be done together!
Feedback - The feedback from all involved is still being gathered. Here are a few examples of the things people have said. We should be encouraged by it and thankful to God.
Quotes from parents:
"Highly professional, well-run and great value for money! An absolutely invaluable support for the parents of Dunbar"
"It was wholly inclusive of my son and his additional support needs, I couldn't have asked for a more enthusiastic, thoughtful, open approach to having him there. The chance for him to take part in an ordinary activity alongside his sister and his peers in his local community means the world to us and will have an impact upon his future long after the club has ended."
"Please have more of these events though the year."
"Very good, first time coming, defo for next year"
"Loved all the songs, crafts, challenges
"They loved the kind attention from the adults"
Quotes from children:
"This was my first time at Holiday club and I was worried about it. But it was good and I enjoyed the singing"
"The best yet!"
"I like the big challenges"
"I liked the messy crafts"
"I loved Skyping Jonah when he was in the whale"
"We really enjoyed the sensory aspects - crafts and ground vibrating with singing and dancing"
"I learned not to run away from God and God forgives us"
Quotes from leaders:
"Great to have such talent and commitment to help design our own material"
"I really do wish we could attract more young leaders, especially young men"
"The family and friends really engaged with the Friday family event"
"I felt the children had a fun week, in depth familiarisation of a bible story and lots of opportunities to think and talk about God through this story"
"Everyone in the team worked really well together"
"Best memory verse I've seen"