by Sherry Weaver Smith
Going on a St. Patrick's Day scavenger hunt outside, when nature has turned green, can be a way for kids to search for real gold, learning about God's love for them, while having fun along the way. Children may know about St. Patrick's Day shamrocks and rainbows, but they may not know much about the real saint and his own journeys.
Patrick's journey began as a teenager when a gang attacked his village on the island of Britain in the night and kidnapped him. They took him on a boat to Ireland and forced him into slavery. But he didn't stop praying, even at night with a herd of sheep in rainstorms. Guided by faith, he escaped over muddy bogs and through twisting forest paths until he came to the sea.
But once safely home, he dreamt of a voice telling him to return to Ireland to spread the word of Jesus. Again, through prayer, he found his way back over the sea, overcame opposition, made friends who could help him, built churches, and inspires us even today. He trusted that if he followed God, he would find God's protection surrounding him. And though he sometimes walked in dangerous places, he created a prayer that was strong like a shield. The activity that follows will help children you know to sense God's protection all around them.
Shield of St. Patrick Prayer
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ under me, Christ over me,
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me…
- Cardstock or other sturdy paper
- Small prize for the last clue, such as a saint's medal or gold coin candy
- Along a nature path, tie four pieces of yarn with numbered tags near landmarks like a flower, beautiful tree, birdhouse, or other interesting sights.
- For each landmark, write a clue and part of St. Patrick's prayer as directions. If the child or children playing are young, give fill-in-the blanks to help them find the landmark.
For example, if you tie the yarn in front of a red flower, the clue and instructions could be:
Please say "Christ behind me" and turn around.
"Cheerful shapes" is the clue.
r_ _ _ _ _w_ _
- For the last clue, hide some gold coin candy or a saint's medal in a plastic pot or other keepsake holder.
- Kids walk to each yarn marker in order.
- They say the prayer and make the right movement, such as turning behind, looking to the right, or looking beneath.
- They write down answers to clues, and at the end, they find a prize.
Children journey for a short time as St. Patrick did, walking while in prayer, unsure of what he would see on the way but sure in his purpose.