COMPASS TY Group visit Lower Lough, Bray, Co. Wicklow on 5th April, 2017

Between the 3rd and 6th April I had the privilege of helping out with the 2017 COMPASS TY Experience at Glencree. Once again Connexus, the Glencree staff, the COMPASS team and all involved in the TY experience put in a magnificent effort. Whilst we’re always blessed with well-behaved and enthusiastic students, the 2017 group were awe-inspiring and it gives me solace to realise that the future may be in safe hands. The three days flew by. Connexus engaged the students skilfully with quality sessions and supported by the COMPASS team. I was particularly impressed with the respect that the students treated each other and how swiftly they bonded. From the moment 25 TYs boarded the bus at Heuston on Tuesday morning, the experience progressed smoothly and seamlessly.

The COMPASS supervisors were Julie, Paul, Avril and Emma and our duties were made simple by Julie’s thorough preparation. She kept us briefed, emailed us in advance and had an information pack for each of us upon arrival. This contained the dormitory layout, emergency contact numbers, parents’ authorisations and names and relevant details for each student. Julie brought provisions for tea, coffee, biscuits and sandwich supplies. 25 voracious appetites necessitated a second dash to Lidl in Ballinteer on Wednesday. Hot meals were served punctually by Carol and her assistants in the Armoury Cafe. The rooms were modern, bright and warm. For the supervisors we had time, space and a kitchen to make snacks or hot drinks. Luxury!

Patrick from Connexus was on his honeymoon but, assisted superbly by Dan, Rob comfortably took over the running. They used a presentation room for their sessions which focused on many of the aspects of personal development. A wide range of topics and interactions were engaged with. These included Communication: “Love your neighbour as yourself”; the Student Game Challenge; Authenticity: “Being True”; Meditation & Reflection; and Telling our Stories: “What has made me”. The sessions have been carefully developed by Connexus over the years to assist personal development with particular emphasis on aspects such as teamwork, relationships, mindfulness, emotions and empathy. There were two sessions every morning and afternoon. We, the supervisors, based ourselves in the next room and the students must have been exceptionally diligent because only the occasional peal of laughter reminded us that the group were still working.

The group arrived at the Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Glencree in time for lunch on Tuesday. Three boys’ and three girls’ dorms accommodated the twenty five students who came from ten of the COMPASS schools. Two sessions and a short break preceded tea. Fine weather allowed for walks around the Reconciliation Centre with informal basketball and soccer. A campfire was organised for the evening in a perfect setting that resembled a mini-ampitheatre overlooking the Glencree valley with the Sugarloaf visible in the distance. Rob’s boy scouts’ skills were once again to the fore and he soon had a bonfire blazing. Julie provided the monster marshmallows for roasting. The students drifted back to the centre and played cards or congregated in the TV room until bedtime at 11pm.

All were roused at 7:30am and we trooped over to breakfast at 8:00am. The day had dawned with beautiful clear skies which heralded a fine day. This year a short hike to Lower Lough Bray was planned for the afternoon and gave us a spectacular setting for the group photograph. A further session preceded tea which was followed by games and relaxation. There was plenty of entertainment on offer with movies and good internet coverage which allowed students to use their smart phones. It was a testament to the effectiveness of the bonding that group games were often the activity of choice. Julie had brought packs of cards which resulted in skilful and rapid engagements facilitated by certain student card gurus. Everyone began to fade by 11:30pm when the movie ended and students retired to their dorms. The walk must’ve had the desired effect because, unlike previous years, there was hardly a whisper to be heard.

After breakfast Rob and Dan picked up the baton again with a fourth talk and question time after the break. Alan, the COMPASS Treasurer, arrived in timely fashion to take care of pecuniary matters which took us up to early lunch at noon. The bus arrived punctually with those from East Glendalough being collected directly. Emotions were evident and contact details were exchanged as emotional goodbyes took place between newly-acquired friends. We asked the group to be sure to pass on their feedback to the 3rd Years and as the bus struggled up the hill and serenity descended on Glencree, one felt that COMPASS had very reason to be proud to have hosted the 2017 TY Experience.

Three TY students who attended from Dundalk Grammar School were Carolyn Matthews, Rebecca Moffit-McGinn and Roisin Murphy.

As I said to the students, we have space for up to thirty every year and it would be a shame for any TY to miss the experience that they had benefitted from. So if you’re reading this, please pass on the message to students and parents for next year.

Shane Bennet, COMPASS PRO

COMPASS TY Experience 2017 Review


Share This Article