Arts Society Church Trails for Children started in Wessex at the request of a Arts Society member (a previous Arts Society Chairman) who was churchwarden of a well-known church, which was frequently visited by tourists and also used by the school.
She asked for something "which would instruct and interest both children and adults and, at the same time, be fun to do".
The trail consists of a simple question sheet for the children and a well-researched answer sheet for the accompanying adults.
The point of the trails is to create a dialogue between the child and the accompanying adult so that both become enthusiastic and learn together.
A trail is created by 3 or so members of a Arts Society Society using fairly strict Arts Society guidelines (so as to keep a nationally consistent standard). Certain skills are useful for a trail-maker: computer literacy and the ability to design, to draw simple line drawings, to photograph and to have a knowledge of churches and the Holy Bible. Parents and Grandparents of the age-group for whom the trails are designed (8-12) are very useful, as are retired teachers!
An adviser from the National Church Trail Team is allocated to each group and helps it by giving a presentation about the trails, visiting a chosen church with the group and giving advice as needed about the type of questions, design, computer skills, working with children and the final launch of a trail. Trails are inexpensive to produce and are an excellent opportunity for working with other organisations such as schools, scouts, tourist associations etc. They are also relatively quick to produce.
But above all, they are FUN to make and FUN to do!
Two new Church Trails have recently been completed. Society members for Bournemouth and East Dorset DFAS created the Church Trail for Lady St Mary Church in Wareham and society members from Wimborne and Blandford DFAS created the Church Trail for Cranborne Church in Cranborne. Children from the local primary schools enjoyed the opportunity to try out the Trails during special visits to each Church. The Church Trails are now available to all who visit.
Church Trail Adviser: