If you are wondering why I haven't posted anything this week, I was helping out with Vacation Bible School every afternoon at our church.
I was the designated "Craft Lady" and had a fantastic time! I tried to encourage individuality instead of cookie-cutter craft projects, and I think I succeeded on that front. I don't think any parent can be disappointed when you can definitely tell that your children made something all by themselves! Though it did offer some interesting artistic interpretations...
The first day was crazy as usual, but the insanity was compounded by the fact that Jacob was running a mysteriously high fever which lasted most of the week and then quietly went away. Thankfully, my mom came on Wednesday so he could take a nap in the comfort of home and familiar surroundings. On Thursday, he ate three full meals, took two long naps, and slept 8+ hours at night, so we knew he was finally back to normal.
Despite Jacob's infection-fighting trauma, the week was actually quite relaxing and enjoyable, especially the kids' wacky conversations, the copious amounts of glue, the last-minute scrambles, the shoot-from-the-hip explanations, the sugar rush at snack time, and the time chatting with the other adults. I remembered why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place, and am actually looking forward to running a Kids' Club again soon, though I do think a few hours a week is my limit on interactions with large groups of elementary children that are not my own.
I did find out about a disturbing recent VBS trend which makes me even more proud of our church: apparently, in all of the other churches in our community, they charge a fee for VBS! Our church is the only one that offers it free. That's right, elsewhere parents actually have to PAY to send their kids to a VBS program! (One large church in the ATL area even asks the volunteers to pay to help cover costs!) Perhaps, if you are charging for VBS, you are spending too much time on the outward appearance and not enough on the heart. Just sayin'.
VBS is first of all an outreach. Sure, some kids from the church will come, but I think it is mostly a way to get families in the community involved with a local church and hear Christ preached. In fact, at our VBS, over 80% of the kids were from outside the church and most of them probably don't attend anywhere regularly. So why would you ask someone to pay to hear the gospel? I just don't get it.
Well, at least some things never change:
1. The awesome ladies in the kitchen who make all the cool homemade snacks! Their creativity amazes me: the "Paralyzed Man" made out of a cupcake with pretzels for arms and legs, and the cups of pudding with a brownie boat and little Teddy Graham people to represent Jesus and the Disciples when he calms the storm. Oh my goodness how cute is that?
2. The cheesy kid songs. I know I still remember songs I learned in church and at VBS. I hope these kids will, too. And hey, they get to take home a CD with all the songs on it! Reinforcements or parental torture? You decide!
3. Stretching a bit to make the crafts/activities fit the Bible story or theme. Okay, so sometimes that seems kind of lame, but as an English teacher, I think of all those glue-laden, glittery art projects as symbols-- tangible created objects to represent grander themes about The Creator. Same with games and other activities. Hopefully these kids will remember the story behind the symbols when they admire their creations.
I thought I'd share a link I've been enjoying of all the funny VBS-themed posts over at Stuff Christians Like. A little levity for those of you who either just survived VBS week or still have it looming ahead of you.
Oh, and one final tip:
If, for some reason, you have to write someone's name on a craft project, make sure that you don't accidentally smear the still-wet glitter glue drawings when you flip it over. No matter how hard you try to fix your mistake, it won't be right. And you might make a little girl cry. And when asked "What is a sin?" the little girl may answer "A sin is when the teacher messes up your craft project." Fellow VBS volunteers, you have been warned!