A camp like no other

A camp like no other A happy camper at the Michaela Foundation Girls Summer Camp in Newry, Co. Down.

Summer camps for young girls are well underway across Ireland instilling values like friendship, loyalty and faith in remembrance and celebration of Michaela McAreavey.

In July St Peter’s Primary School Cloughreagh outside Newry in Co. Down hosted the Michaela Foundation Girls’ Summer Camp for the fifth year running. The Armagh camp was one of 19 camps throughout Ireland in 2017.

The fully booked camp offered girls aged 11-13 a week of unforgettable fun-filled activities in each of five elements: fun, faith, fashion, well-being and fáilte.

Attendees from this year’s camp have given outstanding feedback about the effect the camp had on their lives.

“I love camp. The elements and the leaders are very special to me. I can’t believe I ever had a summer without it,” said one campette.

Originally founded in Co. Tyrone, the camp is one of many inspiring programmes to blossom from the Michaela Foundation, which was established in honour of the life of Michaela McAreavey (the daughter of Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte) by her husband John McAreavey, after her tragic murder during their honeymoon in 2011 on the island of Mauritius.

The idea of the foundation is to commemorate and celebrate Michaela’s life, keeping her spirit alive by continually spreading the values by which she lived. Michaela taught Irish in school, and her profound happiness and fun-loving way of life was motivated by her faith and love of God.

She was adamant about enjoying life without the aid of alcohol or other additives, encouraging those around her to avoid peer pressure and societal norms and to be who they truly are.

Promoting these values, the camp offers young women throughout Ireland different programmes tailored to establish a happy, confident and faith-filled life.

Once again, the Cloughreagh camp was a great success with full attendance and a stimulating programme of activities including arts and crafts, dancing and a wide range of sports. The campettes are given the opportunity to express themselves in creative ways, make new friendships and grow in their own faith.

The success of the 19 camps, which run in 14 different counties, across three provinces, rests upon the strong team of voluntary leaders who generously donate their time and talents to make each camp a unique experience for all who attend. All of the camp leaders act as role-models for the girls, and as leaders emphasise the importance of loyalty to friendships, being true to one-self and encourage the girls to enjoy the amazing gifts they’ve been given as individuals.

Not only do camp leaders make a real difference to the lives of the campettes, but they get a lot out of the experience, too.

“It’s been such a fantastic week! Each year brings something so special and different,” said Camp Co-Ordinator Clare Conlon, adding “Our campettes have inspired our leaders, given them a renewed lease of life and for that we will be forever indebted. We love Michaela Foundation Camp to the moon and back here in Cloughreagh.”

Since the first camp in Glencull Primary School, Tyrone in 2012, the Michaela Foundation has run over 50 more camps giving almost 4,000 campettes this formative and life-changing experience, alongside, for example, the over 400 strong team of volunteers in 2016 alone who made the camps a reality. The phenomenal growth of the camps highlight the commitment of the voluntary leaders and their parents.


Speaking on behalf of Michaela Foundation about the Cloughreagh Camp, Úna Kelly said, “We were delighted to bring the Michaela Girls Summer Camp back to St Peter’s Primary School in 2017. The support of the management and staff was integral to making the camp a success. The staff is so welcoming and accommodating, a sentiment which our camp leaders would reiterate. A special word of thanks to John Campbell and Suzanne Burns for their continued support.”

The staff and volunteers in the Michaela Foundation are committed to creating and maintaining the safest possible environment for all young people who participate in activities, so that the campettes are able to fully immerse themselves into the dynamic, convivial and faith-filled atmosphere.

“I believe that the ethos of St Peter’s Primary School and Michaela Foundation are well aligned, and that is the basis of a strong partnership,” said Úna, adding, “Having such a host location enables us to provide an excellent setting for campettes to enjoy and express themselves.”

The Michaela Foundation relies heavily on donations and fundraising events to allow outreach initiatives such as the summer camps to happen, and raise funds all year round in order to continue and increase their presence in Ireland.

Since its founding, there have many prominent supporters helping to grow the foundation’s profile including Jim Eastwood, Paddy Kielty and Ardal O’Hanlon. These celebrities have made huge contributions in support of the Michaela Foundation and are a testament to the influential and positive role it plays across the island.

For more information about the Michaela Foundation, check out http://michaelafoundation.com/