Fun and faith at vacation Bible schools



The kids who attend them and the adults who run them are kissing boring, old vacation Bible schools goodbye and happily replacing them with fun stuff.

The five-day day camps still exist to give children additional religious training and something to do during summer breaks from school. But they can also be upbeat and exciting, organizers say.

The numerous churches that sponsor or host vacation Bible schools (VBS) want big turnouts of youngsters who might be the next generation of regular churchgoers. Both have a better chance of happening if the kids associate church with meaningful but entertaining activities.

Baptist churches in Federal Way, including Nine Lakes Baptist Church and

Church of the Palisades, are trying to accomplish that mission this summer through a free traveling VBS from Immanuel Baptist Church near San Bernadino, Calif.

With a theme of “Amazon outfitters,” young adults put on the activities, do the decorating, even pop the popcorn.

At Nine Lakes, about 40 children daily marched into the sanctuary with flags before trooping off to classrooms outfitted with tents and decorations. The participants loved it, a church member reported.

Ditto at Church of the Palisades. The pastor, Billy Arnold, noted that “as a Christian church, we always want people to find out what Christ can do for their lives, and vacation Bible school helps children do that in a fun and friendly environment. We’re not cramming anything down anyone’s throat.”

Two kids attending the Palisades are Pam Keenan’s. For three years, Keenan has headed the VBS at Resurrection Lutheran church, which, like others, tries to make it fun to increase kids’ attendance.

Outdoor play, snacks, etc. go along with the service-based theme of doing for others. “A Heart for Missions” is the title for this year’s VBS at Resurrection July 29-Aug. 2. For instance, kids will bake cookies to give to the congregation’s shut-ins. The children will also make health kits with toothbrushes and other personal items to send to underprivileges kids overseas, including Afghanistan, Keenan said.

If they1re fun, kids will come to VBSes, Keenan said. “Last year,” she related, one little boy asked, ‘Can we go to vacation Bible school next week, too?’

“I remember them as being pretty boring when i was a kid. The thinking now is to make them more enjoyable so the kids have a good time and want to be there.”

Parents like VBSes for helping keep kids from getting restless during summers. Some kids go to VBSes at different churches than their own, invited by friends at those churches or because word spreads about the fun involved.

Keenan said about the only pressing challenge is finding enough parents to volunteer as VBS assistants. Working outside the home makes it hard for parents to be available.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and

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