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Activities for Catholic Boys and Girls!!!

Looking for activities for your children that will not only help to build character but are fun as well? We may have the answer! We interviewed several families who use various Catholic activity programs designed to help children develop both virtues and skills. These groups are organized and overseen by parents using a format, which is provided. Most of the families interviewed stressed they adapted the programs to their particular situation and needs. Parents also indicated that each family contributes in some manner, usually by taking their turn at planning and carrying out an activity.

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Pilgrims of the Holy Family

Pilgrims of the Holy Family, a Catholic Family Activities Program, is an alternative to boy scout and girl scout programs. It is designed for children ten and up although younger children can use the program with assistance. Children can earn badges and develop skills in more than 70 areas of interest by performing specified activities.

The Pilgrims’ handbook has five main divisions – humanities, religion, science, technology, and woodsmanship with a myriad of subjects in each division. Students choose an area and topic of interest to work on. Topics are as varied as art, camping, woodworking, environment, chemistry, medicine, theater, horseback riding, music, sewing, cooking, fishing, architecture, and athletics. With each subject area, there is also information about a saint along with his feast day, prayer, and short meditation.

Miriam, a home schooling mother of three from Dearborn, Michigan, has used the program with her family and particularly likes it because it includes both boys and girls and can be used by a group, a family, or an individual. She appreciates the opportunity the program provides for her children “to participate with a group in performing some community service activities. Performing community service as a group allows for some positive peer pressure.” In addition, she points out that Pilgrims of the Holy Family is a program in which Dad can easily find a role since there are many topics that appeal to men and which require more masculine skills and expertise. Often other family members or friends with particular skills related to a topic become valuable resources for the group.

The program also allows for flexibility. When used with a group, meetings can be set up weekly or monthly or on whatever time schedule best suits the group. Individuals can also move at their own pace within the group. Students can also follow up on their interest on a particular subject by consulting resources and websites, which are included in the handbook.

The Pilgrims of the Holy Family Handbook and badges can be ordered from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. 1-800-490-7713 www.chcweb.com

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Blue Knights Boys Club

Tom, a father from Novi, Michigan whose son Alex is six years old began a Blue Knights group last summer. The group consists of eight fathers and their sons ranging from four to six years of age, although the program is actually designed for boys from six to twelve years of age.

Each meeting begins with a prayer and a reading from the Bible or saint story. The group discusses the reading, focusing on virtues and how they can be applied to daily life. Because the children are young, the meeting is informal and the discussion no longer than twenty minutes. But Tom likes the opportunity the format of the Blue Knights provides for fathers to help in building the character of their children.

Tom wants his son “to experience the faith as something natural in his thought processes and in his daily living”. His goal is to expose the children to the faith in a natural setting with their fathers. The Blue Knights handbook provides information about various saints and how their lives demonstrated particular virtues.

The meeting also includes a project or game. At each meeting the boys make a sword or shield or helmet so that they eventually build up an outfit of armor, which is a symbol of the armor or virtues that they are also building. Occasional fun nights, such as an evening of putt-putt golf, are planned and older and younger brothers are invited to participate. Blue Knights’ handbook tells how to organize and run meetings and provides a year’s worth of virtues

Tom also points out that the group is a great opportunity for fathers to connect with other men who share their faith and a similar desire to make the faith central to their family life.

The Blue Knight Handbook is available from Catholic Heritage Curriculum Publishers 1-800-490-7713 www.chcweb.com

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Little Flower Girls Club

The Little Flower Girls program is designed to offer wholesome Catholic group activities and crafts for girls from ages seven to twelve. The program encourages growth in womanly traditions using the Blessed Mother and St. Therese as models.

Eight- year-old Clare has been a member of a Little Flowers group that has been meeting in Livonia, Michigan for the past four years. Her mother Danielle says the girls range in age from kindergarten to eighth grade. The older girls often help in organizing the crafts and assist the younger girls. The girls discuss a particular virtue each month and its application to their daily life. Readings from the Bible or life of a saint are also used for discussion at times. Occasionally, the group invites a special guest, such as a sister of the Holy Cross who spoke about her vocation, to their group.

For several years, the group has met at the Livonia library and just recently started meeting at the activity center of St. Genevieve Parish in Livonia. Although the Clare and her family has recently moved to Chelsea, Michigan, she and her mother continue to make the monthly trip to Livonia for the Little Flower meetings because of the friendships that Clare has made in the group.

The Little Flower handbook is available from Catholic Heritage Curriculum Publishers 1-800-490-7713 www.chcweb.com

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Kids for Jesus (K4J)

Faith, Matthew, Angela and Jessie from Dearborn Heights, Michigan participate in the K4J program, which is associated with St. Stanislaus’ Parish in Wyandotte, Michigan. The program is designed for children six to eleven years old. Because thirty to forty children regularly attend the monthly meetings at St. Stan’s, they break down into three or four smaller groups according to age level with an adult supervising each group. The meeting consists of a short prayer time in the chapel, doing a craft, reading a saint story, and playing games. Their busy home schooling mother, Sandy particularly appreciates that all of the materials, including ideas for crafts, and games are provided in the leader’s guide. Each month a specific theme or virtue is emphasized and is reinforced in the crafts and activities.

Sandy also mentioned that the program can be adapted for CCD or Catholic school teachers who want to incorporate it into their religion program. In addition, a packet with daily activities related to the ‘mission of the month’ can be ordered and used by families at home.

Families interested in starting a K4J program or receiving the monthly packet for home use can call Barb at 248-528-3595.

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Challenge and Conquest Clubs

Challenge (for girls) and Conquest (for boys) Clubs are designed to help youth ages ten to sixteen come together and form a friendship with Christ. Challenge and Conquest Clubs enable youth to discover and develop their natural talents and place them at the service of society. The purpose is to develop the whole person, spiritually, socially, and intellectually. This formation is carried out through group dynamics, workshops, retreats, and other fun activities. Challenge and Conquest Clubs also focus on apostolic works. Members learn to use leadership skills to help re-Christianize society.

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Challenge Clubs

Cathy, a home schooling mother from Rochester Hills, Michigan coordinates a Challenge Club in Oxford. There are 23 girls in the group, who range in age from eleven to sixteen, and most are home schooled. Other Challenge and Conquest groups, however, are associated with local parishes where parents have been able to work with supportive pastors. These groups are often mixed, having both home schooled children and children from the parish or public schools.

Cathy says that because of the wide range of ages in their Challenge Club, they usually divide into two groups so that age appropriate talks and activities can be done. The regional Challenge office provides to local leaders on a monthly basis all materials including questions for the gospel reflection and spiritual talks on virtues and the saints. Their motto is - ‘Challenge self, Challenge others, Challenge the world!’

The girls have an opportunity to develop their leadership skills by organizing apostolic and fun activities. Some of the activities sponsored by the Oxford Challenge group have been a father/daughter dance, fashion show encouraging modesty, visiting a nursing home, making blankets for a pregnancy center, and collecting food for needy families.

Cathy says that the girls also look forward to the week-long summer convention which will be held in Oxford, Michigan. All of the Challenge groups in Michigan and Ohio come together for a week of activities. Mothers who are interested in connecting with a Challenge Club or forming a club should call Lori at 248-628-7830

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Conquest Clubs

The purpose of the Conquest Clubs is to help boys become the men that God intended. The group focuses on forming leaders for society. Their motto is to ‘Lead and not be Led’. The Conquest Groups use a similar format as the girl’s Challenge Clubs - gospel reflections, retreats, speakers, and activities. To make things easy for busy parents, the regional Conquest office provides all materials on a monthly basis for Conquest Club meetings. Currently, there are 14 Conquest clubs throughout the state of Michigan.

The Clarkston Conquest Club is working on producing a video. The boys are acting out and filming stories about various virtues such as charity, sincerity, friendship. Other activities that the boys have done recently include staining wood Stations of the Cross, and the annual John Paul II catechism and sports tournament. Usually the home schooled students are asked to represent their team in the catechism event since they have proved themselves to be winners!

Jim, a home schooling dad from Wyandotte, Michigan also leads a Conquest group of about 25 boys. Their meeting consists of prayer time, a gospel reflection, and play time. The boys play basketball, dodge ball, soccer, steal the bacon and a host of other games. Jim appreciates having a safe environment for his son Patrick to get together with other boys. He also likes that the focus is not just on winning but on sportsmanship and keeping Christ in all aspects of daily life.

Fathers who are interested in locating or forming a Conquest Club can call Evan at 248-241-9061.

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These groups are ideal for home schooling families since they require a minimum of work on the part of mom and dad. The format and content are provided. They also supplement religious teaching in the home and provide for some group interaction and service activities. Most importantly, they are designed to help foster a personal encounter with Christ. If youth do not learn to love Christ personally and to translate their love for Christ into action through apostolic activity, the doctrine we teach at home will not likely sustain them. Our human nature requires a personal encounter with Christ, which must then be shared with to others.

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