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Structure of the Program

The Columbia program has been designed to insure that each Irish child receives the full benefit of the experience in a safe and secure setting. Key organizational features of the program include:

The children in Northern Ireland come from Protestant or Catholic neighborhoods and seldom have the opportunity to know each other. As soon as we receive the list of names, we immediately group the children - matching Catholic with Protestant, with same sex, age, and, when possible, Midlands neighborhoods. When a host family has two Irish children, they are buddies. The buddies meet each other prior to their trip to America and travel together. This gives the Irish children a wonderful chance to learn about and become "best friends" with a child of differing religious views. The "buddies" are our first step in breaking down barriers.

The activities form the heart of the program for it is through playing together that lives are touched and attitudes are changed.

MANDATORY events are: the first soccer game/picnic, the Myrtle Beach weekend, weekly choir, and the ecumenical service. In complying with requests from Belfast, we will be including reconciliation and conflict management at every choir program. All other events are optional and all activities, except the Beach weekend and Dental Program, are open to your entire family.

Some activities may be limited in size (pool parties, etc.) while others have no limit for attendance numbers. You may "sign up" for these events at the soccer game/picnic. We urge you to notify the contact person if you find you are unable to attend an event. You are also asked to "sign up" to chaperone various activities.

The large activities are fun for all, but we encourage you to make your own plans to provide opportunities for the Catholic and Protestant children to get together. It is the small gatherings that especially encourage new friendships. Remember that your Irish child has a buddy of the opposite faith, and the Program encourages you to provide opportunities to allow this relationship to flourish and prosper during the visit.

Midway through the visit, the Irish children will spend the weekend at the beach. They will be the guests of American Legion Post #40 (Myrtle Beach) for this trip. Transportation and meals will be provided. All the children will need to bring are pillows and bed linens (sleeping bags), beach clothing and toiletries. The weekend is designed to provide an enjoyable outing for the children, while giving the host family some private time together.

Some of the activities which especially benefit the children and promote the goals of the program include the Dental Program and picnics sponsored by community groups. Please try to include these when planning your summer activities.

It is required that your Irish child attend at least three planned activities each week in addition to choir & reconciliation. You may want to car pool with other host families in your area. Since the activities will be chaperoned, please do not feel that you have to be present during each entire activity.

Originally the program provided for one Irish Chaperone to accompany the children; however, it soon became apparent, due to the number of children involved, that more than one chaperone was needed. A minimum of three adult Irish chaperones now accompany the children.

The Irish chaperones play an essential role in the program. They escort the children during travel, and throughout the visit they are a "bridge" home for those who are in need of hearing a familiar accent. They offer security and help for any adjustment problems. They are also an excellent source of information about the behavior, customs, and attitudes that prevail in Northern Ireland. We have, in their presence, an opportunity to extend our Southern hospitality. Please make an effort to include the Irish chaperones by inviting one, two or all three to dinner or on some family outing. Remember that the last two weeks are the busiest so try to schedule something early in the program.

The chaperones also have host families so please refer to the resource listing for information about where they are staying.

Each host family has a Sponsor, who is a member of the Board of the Irish Children's Summer Program. Your Board Sponsor has had experience in the program and is available to help you throughout the four weeks. Please call your Board Sponsor if you have any area of concern or ideas to improve the program. We welcome all ideas for that is what makes each summer so exciting. When concerns and questions arise, it is much better to handle them immediately, rather than waiting and letting them mount into major problems. If your Board Sponsor does not know the answer or solution to your problem, she or he will know where to look for those answers.

Your Board Sponsor will also be your phone contact with the ICSP. Any messages or changes in plans will be relayed through him or her.

If you are leaving the Columbia area for a few days, you must let your Board Sponsor know your location and phone number.

This person is here to help you, your family, and your Irish child have a wonderful, meaningful experience this summer.

The Board values your ideas and suggestions. The families who have previously participated in the Irish Children's Summer Program have provided recommendations and insight for some changes in the program each year. We are anxious to benefit from your experiences as we continually attempt to improve the program. At the end of the program you will receive evaluation forms. Please complete them as soon as possible while the experiences are still fresh in your mind. Give your completed forms to your Board Sponsor or send them to I.C.S.P., P.O.Box 223, Columbia 29202.

We look forward to being with you in late Summer at our annual Appreciation Dinner. Details and invitations will be coming at an appropriate time. We also hope you will participate in any fund raisers and special events scheduled throughout the year.

ICSP Brings New Irish Children Each Year
The purpose of the Columbia program is to reduce violence and hatred in Northern Ireland due to religious-based prejudice and segregation by exposing Irish Catholic and Protestant children to a holiday of safety, peace, and love in an ecumenical setting. It is the intention of the ICSP Board to bring as many new children to the Columbia area as possible in order that more children can benefit from this ecumenical experience.







Friendship 2006
Friendship 2006


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