Anna Irish first encountered Day Camps as a nine-year-old camper, the summer her family moved to Montreal from Europe. She was involved with Crosstalk Ministries through her teens, but found that she connected especially well with Daycamps, and has stayed involved in the years since her three years on Travelling Team, helping with manual chapters and sometimes as a Training Team Leader, and this year, after moving back to the Montreal area, as a committee member.
Words can’t describe the role that Day Camps has played in my life, at least not the few words that make up a blog post. It has touched so many aspects of life, in some of the same ways that have been touched on by other guest bloggers, as well as many others. In the area of Children’s ministry, the four C’s have continued to influence my approach: Creativity (Craziness does not come as easily to me, though I have occasionally dabbled in it too), Community, Content, and Challenge. But what I’d like to tell you about in this post is an exciting project that that incorporates much of the four C’s principles: remaking the “Follow the Leader” slideshow as a puppet show.
I can’t say I have a lot of experience in puppetry, but I have long admired the medium. I became a great fan of the Muppet Show in my teens, and of course enjoyed the antics of Lamb (and in those days cousin Lamb and Dog) at Daycamps. These particular puppets, however, owe their conception to a few happy accidents. I was leading a small youth group in Toronto when an arts camp in the parish resulted in a large quantity of leftover fabric scraps. Not wanting to see them go to waste, I decided to make some puppets with the youth group, so that we could put on a lesson for the Sunday School. A few years earlier a dear friend had given me her collection of Sunday School materials, which included the book Teaching Bible Stories More Effectively with Puppets. The rod puppets especially caught my attention, and since the youth group was quite enthusiastic about crafts, we set to work making paper mache heads, armature for the bodies, and costumes. The project was a hit within and outside the youth group, and culminated (under the next youth leader) in a much-enjoyed performance of the life of Elijah at the parish’s Coffee Hour.
From time to time I would think about the puppets, and how the design might be improved, but never had a reason to make any more. When I learned that the committee wanted to do a new slideshow, however, the perfect opportunity presented itself! I thought that it would be a great and (relatively) simple way of adding some live action to the slideshow, which, if all goes well, will be a video this year. The rest of the committee seems pretty excited too.
So far, most of the work on the project has gone into making the puppets. It has been very rewarding to see them take shape from simple materials. Styrofoam balls, cardboard tubes, little corks and layers of paper mache become heads. Painting the faces was the most challenging part: it took quite a few tries to get them right! The hands (after much brainstorming), were made around styrofoam eggs, which I cut in half and trimmed a bit at the rounder end. The bodies are made of paper cups, with rolled up cardstock for arms and beads for joints. The final touches are costumes (fortunately I had a lot of fabric scraps on hand) and felt hair, which will be attached with velcro so as to be interchangeable.
I have also been working on some props, but more remains to be done on that front. The next steps will be to construct a stage, and then the scripts need to be written before the others involved with the project can join me in performing and filming the plays, and recording the soundtrack.
The project has been very exciting so far, and I hope you will join me in praying that the rest of production goes well, and that this bit of Creativity will help bring the Gospel to life for the children who attend Day Camps in 2014. May those children be touched by all aspects of the program as I and so many others have been, and go forth in the knowledge of God’s amazing love for them!