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Mark's gospel

The Easter holiday club at St James' Muswell Hill was called Epic Explorers, and it was based on the course devised by the Christianity Explored people.

As it says on the Christianity Explored web site, the children joined a cast of characters on an exciting island adventure filled with games, activities and Bible stories that will help them discover Who Jesus is, Why He came, and What it means to follow Him.

In order to turn St James's into an island that could be epically explored, we needed some scenery and so I got the jigsaw out after a visit to PO Joyce's wood yard. I bought four 2440 x 1220mm bits of 3mm thick MDF and cut them up to make the volcano and its foothills. I made the foothills a bit longer by using some of the offcuts. This pdf is a scale drawing (1:25 if you print it at A3) showing how it worked. The 1220mm wide bits were cut in half lengthways so they would (just) fit in my car. I used bits of wood on the joins between the bits of MDF. Fix with screws every 300mm or so, using an electric screwdriver.

Then it was a question of painting the MDF with difficult surfaces primer, and then emulsion paint, to get that oh-so-realistic appearance.

The finishing touch was to put a shelf on the back near the top. This was for the church smoke machine (every church should have one) and a red light to give the smoke an eery red volcanic glow. Wonderfully, the smoke rose from the volcano and then drifted along the centre of the church just above child head height.

Other parts of the island were made using blue tarpaulin (from B&Q) for the sea, bits of staging (owned by the church) for the jetty and some inflatable palm trees from the internet. Seagulls and a pelican were quickly cut out of MDF offcuts (rather too quickly actually).

The volcano was then re-used at Christ Church North Finchley for their epic explorers summer holiday club. And the foothills were painted yellow and became a desert island for a light party in November at St James.

mountains and jetty
Here's the island, with all the props

Volcano smoking
The volcano, erupting


mountains unpainted
Before it was painted, in our back garden. It is as wide as our house.

To be honest, this looks nothing like a pelican. And the seagulls look like ducks.


Desert island church by John Parker. Contact me via the about page. Text and images copyright © 2015 John Parker www.desertislandchurch.co.uk.