The participants finished the camp on a high note today with a visit to Tanagh Outdoor Education Centre, Rockcorry. The weather was wet, and so were the children as they tried out all the activities. A special thanks to Nial O'Connor from the Environmental section of Monaghan County Council who never fails to deliver a fantastic range of fun activities, thanks to everyone who assisted with sponsorship and help, to our bus drivers, to all the facilitators during the week, to Paddy Sherry our walk leader whose enthusiasm and patience is tested every time!!! and thanks to Verona, Madge, Alice, Áine and Rachel who give of their time to ensure everyone was well looked after and had a great (and safe) time. Well done to all 18 boys and 4 girls who made the week so enjoyable for everyone.
Day 4 was an upcycled craft day with Tara and Jeanette from www.doodlebugsworkshops.co.uk and there was lots to make and do. First off was a fishing game, and each participant went home with their own creation, and they also created "pets" from clothes pegs and foam sticks. Doodle bugs are a Community Interest Company based in Belfast but provide workshops making weird and wonderful things from recycled objects. Most of the materials used came from the Play Resource Centre, Belfast http://playresource.org/who collect waste materials from industry and recycle it into a free source of arts, play and creativity for children and young people. Lots of colour and variety was the essence of the day....
Tara Mullin holds a 1st Class Honors graduate from the BA Fine and Applied Arts course at the University of Ulster Belfast and DAS (Digital Arts Studios) artist in resident 2009-2010 with specialisms in sculpture, video, photography, performance and installation. She is a founder and leader of the ‘Visual Assault’ dance and visual entertainments team.
Jeanette Rankin has a NVQ Early Years certificate and 10 years child minding experience with various credited and relevant courses. She has worked with children and youth in the voluntary sector for 25 years and has coordinated playgroups at various locations throughout Northern Ireland. She recently completed Music and Creativity courses run by Early Years in addition to the ‘Go for it, start a business programme’ and also hold a special needs training certificate.
Another busy day at Ballinode Tidy Towns eco camp, and this time the workshop was all about sea life, facilitated by a team from www.marinedimensions.ie a social enterprise dedicated to marine environmental education, research and conservation. The team is passionate about Ireland's marine heritage, and the director Dr Sarah Varian regularly features on RTE's Living the Wildlife TV nature series. We all had a great day with the biologists (and sea creatures!) as well as fun things to make and quiz sheets to test our knowledge. We also were introduced to Mermaids' Purses, the eggcases of sharks, skates and rays, and we made crafts out of discarded bits from the beach. We also mentioned cockles, razor shells, limpids, clams, shrimp, crab, jellyfish. lions mane jellyfish, sea anemone, jewel anemone, starfish and even sharks, and we learned that there are 39 different species of shark in Ireland, but none of them Killer Sharks. No doubt there will be lots of budding Ballinode detectives out very soon looking for clues for a seashore safari. I wonder how many creatures will they find?
Day 2 couldn't come quickly enough for the 16 boys and 4 girls who headed out for the annual trek across the hills with walk leader Paddy Sherry. It was wonderful weather and the participants all enjoyed the bog and bogholes along the way. For local people with a knowledge of the area, the trek started near the "big rock" and after a hearty walk across the hills, it finished with a dip at the reservoir, and a short walk back to the bus at the location of what was formerly known as "the lodge." Along the way we took time to recap on what Nuala had talked about yesterday, how we could tell the age of the bog, we observed bog timber, and we got up close to frogs, caterpillars, beetles, and lots of plants, including bog cotton, sphagnum moss, and sundew which eats insects. Well done to everyone for their participation and good fun, and happy birthday to Conal who was going home to party.........
Day one, always a busy and exciting day, with 18 boys and 4 girls participating in the Ballinode Tidy Towns eco camp 2014. The facilitator for the day was Nuala Madigan, Environmental Education Officer at the Irish Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC). Nuala is usually based at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre, near Rathangan in Co. Kildare. She gave a very interesting and entertaining presentation to the participants on the formation of raised bogs like Bragan, and they helped her to make a “bog in a bottle”. The children also helped to identify an array of pond creatures that live in our bog. All these creatures were carefully returned to their natural environment after the event. The children also created Bogwatch Flower Dials to make identification easier, and to learn a little more about each species. Everyone enjoyed a walk to nearby Quiglough to view and collect all the colours of nature on show along the way, and Paddy had a selection of leaves which formed a quiz at the lake. We look forward to a day in the bog with Paddy to put our learning to the test. We also observed what we thought was a crow's nest in a tree, but Paddy explained that it was not a nest, but "Witches Broom", a fungal disease affecting the tree which forms dense bunches of short shoots with small leaves resembling a broomstick.