Vacation Bible School as we know it today is usually run by each individual church during the summer months. Some opt for curriculum programs which can provide the theme, easy material preparation, and can also include marketing tools to help get the word out. Many programs consist of Bible stories, songs, arts and crafts, skits, and maybe even puppet shows. Most churches provide VBS at no cost, but others may charge a small fee. Smaller churches might run their own program without being under the umbrella of a national organization.
Many of you have probably been raised in church, perhaps even from the womb until present day. I was not. My experience with church came from attending with friends. Since the frequency of that was minimal, I don’t really have any memories of VBS. Though I was saved at the age of seventeen, my close walk with the Lord didn’t really come until I was in my early 30’s, married, and a mother of three children. Our family was blessed to be in a wonderful church for nineteen years, and there are many experiences I shared with my children at VBS as they were growing up.
The church my children grew up in was all about VBS! It was a time of the year (usually in mid-June) when all the members, both young and old, would come together for several days of teaching children all about Jesus. Our pastor was close friends with another pastor from a small town in the Oklahoma panhandle, and he would travel to our church every year to do VBS. The two of them together made the experience fun for all! They both love teaching kids, and wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives, even if for just a little while. Many children would be picked up through our bus ministry and brought to church. All who entered the doors would be greeted with warm smiles and tons of excitement!
A highlight of the VBS experience was always the penny contest. There would be a boys team and a girls team, each with an adult representative (usually a married couple). The competition was intense! There were two buckets on stage that boys, girls, and adults could drop their pennies in. The “banker” would provide rolls of pennies for every dollar presented to him. At the end of the night the buckets would be hung from each end of a bar, and the piano player would happily play a countdown tune. The children would be full of anticipation as they watched the heaviest bucket touch the floor, and that team would be announced as the winner. The adult representing the losing team would receive a pie in the face. The kids loved it, and would squeal and cheer with delight!
No matter what the lesson was, there was always Scripture memorization. The words would be written on a chalkboard, and the kids would recite out loud the entire verse. A child would be called up to erase one word, and the verse would be recited again as a group. That would continue until all the words were erased. Repeating that verse so many times would help them remember what they had learned.
Different years were different themes which always involved decorations throughout the church, costumes, props, and food. Themes were many, but some of the favorites were western, construction, and carnival. Tables would be set up outside with lots of kid-friendly snacks. There always seemed to be red Kool-Aid, popcorn, cookies, ice cream sandwiches, snow cones, and even cotton candy to go along with the carnival theme. The children would sit out on the small hill outside the kitchen door and eat their snacks, then run and play.
As a reward for accomplishments achieved during VBS there were certificates handed out on the last night. Kids were to work on Scripture memorization, invite guests to VBS, and bring their Bible. Many times there were prizes handed out for the different categories! Such a fun time!
I smile as I remember so many of these wonderful experiences. How about you? What are some of your memories of Vacation Bible School, as a child or as an adult? We would love to hear all about it!
Hi, I’m Lisa. As a Web Merchandiser for Mardel, I write on Education, Jewelry, and Apparel for our web site. I write from the heart of being a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and Women’s Ministry Coordinator at my church. More than anything else, I love the Lord.