Pilgrims of the Holy Family: A Catholic Family Activity Program

We used Boy Scout Merit Badge activities from time to time as part of our schooling since they usually did a great job of combining book learning and hands-on activity. The goal of Merit Badges is to introduce young men to a variety of topical areas with enough depth for them to consider whether or not they want to pursue each topic further as well as to broaden both their experience and knowledge.

The MacArthurs seem to have taken the basic concept of Merit Badges, translated it into a practical program for Catholic homeschooling families, and presented it in this book. Even some of the "achievement" (activity) titles are similar to those in Boy Scouts, although here they are each tied to an exemplary saint.

Activities are divided into five broad areas called "paths": humanities, religion, science, technology, and woodmanship. We then find between 9 and 16 specific topics (each about equivalent to a Merit Badge) within each path. A student must complete 2/3 of the activities within a path to claim completion. (Keep in mind that all topics will not appeal to all students, thus the 2/3 requirement rather than 100%.)

Examples of topics within each path: Humanities: art, Catholic social thought, law, leadership; Religion: church history, literature, missions, virtues; Science: astronomy, chemistry, geology, medicine, nature; Technology: husbandry, architecture, auto mechanics, cooking, first aid, home care, landscaping, pet care; Woodsmanship: archery, boating, fire safety, gardening, swimming, wilderness survival.

Even within each topic there are often some choices of activities to meet requirements. For example, the American History achievement is accomplished by choosing 7 of the 12 activities. Even within some of these there are additional choices.

You see how these achievements might easily incorporate into your homeschooling. Since most parents aren't familiar with all the possible areas, an extensive list of recommended resources is included at the end of the book. Achievement activities are targeted at children ages 10 and up, but those on the younger end will certainly need more parental assistance.

When children complete each path, they are granted "pilgrim" status relating to five major pilgrimage sites. This concept along with biographical sketches of saints who are role models for each activity, prayers, and numerous activities relating to the Catholic faith give this program a purposeful depth not found in the Merit Badge program. Even better, both boys and girls can participate.

All the different badges are available through Catholic Heritage Curricula. See their website for details.

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Instant Key

  • Learning Environment: parent or teacher resource
  • Religious Perspective: Catholic
  • Grade Level: grades 5-12
  • Educational Approaches: eclectic, unit study
  • Educational Methods: activities, experiential, hands-on, life applications, multi-sensory, research

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