5 Signs of a Successful VBS

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Photo copyright 2015 Kelly Guest. All rights reserved.

My children just finished a week-long VBS at our parish. Every morning I drove 7 of my children to the parish center. The three teens volunteered as aides; the four younger ones were campers.

Even I helped out this year. For 12 years, at my previous parish, I ran the Bible camp. This is a big undertaking: finding an engaging program, collecting supplies, finding volunteers, registering children, organizing, scheduling and making sure everything goes smoothing the week of VBS. When we moved, I was (admittedly) happy to just register my children, donate some supplies and drop the kids off. Then I’d go home and enjoy a quiet morning getting more chores done in that one week than I would the rest of the summer.

This year, though, my parish needed my help. I, therefore, was stationed at an imaginary Mt. Everest base camp with a group of 6th graders and learned how God helps us overcome even the biggest challenges. It was a blast! Even though my basement is still a mess and school stuff still needs to be organized and put away, I am so glad I was called on to volunteer.

I had fun, but I’m a Bible geek who loves discussing God at any time with anybody. How about my children? Did they have fun? Was it worth-while for them?

Here are 5 tell-tale signs that my children benefitted from attending vacation Bible school:P6250546

1. The children came home singing – not Taylor Swifts songs, but songs about Jesus, about God’s great love and power, and the joy of everlasting life.

2. At dinner, when asked, they could recount for me a Bible story or an anecdote from the life of a saint.  These are much happier stories than the shark attacks, Supreme Court decisions and the Duggar scandal in the news lately.

3. They were even able to quote a Bible verse or two. Kind of unusual for a Catholic Bible camp, but it shouldn’t be.

4. Every day, my children were asking for quarters to donate. Every good camp should expose the children to empathy for all of God’s people and creation. Whether collecting money for mosquito nets for families in Africa, or supplies for emergency kits for earthquake victims in Nepal, or any number of missionary activity, it is good for children learn of the world beyond their own little corner.

5. Last but not least, the end of the week found the aides exhausted, but the children begging for more.

Which leads me to say, if your children attend a VBS this summer, please be sure to thank the D.R.E. or whoever is in charge of putting it together. I know from first-hand experience, it takes a lot of time and energy. Also be sure to thank the stay-at-home moms, grandmoms, the moms who work evenings or who took vacation time to volunteer to help at the camp for their time and energy. Every VBS, likewise, needs responsible, energetic teens eager to serve the Lord in His little ones (or at least to get service hours) in order for it to run smoothly. Please thank and encourage these young people, too, in hopes that they will continue to serve their church community as they grow older and no loner need service hours.

Let me end by thanking, last but not least, parents/grandparents for taking their children to these summer Bible schools. God should be a part of our summer; moreover, we should never stop learning more about Him. VBS is a great example of this lesson. Besides, without campers, all the work that goes into VBS would surely be in vain.

So if you haven’t all ready, find a VBS for your children to attend this summer. If your children have attended a camp, what would make you say that it was a success? Please share.

Copyright 2015 Kelly Guest.
Photos copyright 2015 Kelly Guest. All rights reserved.

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About Author

God has given Kelly lots of wonderful opportunities to follow Him. She was a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville, an education coordinator for a Catholic Charities' program for pregnant teens, a middle school teacher, a director of religious education and is now a youth minister. Her most challenging and rewarding calling, though, is wife and mother of ten children. What she has learned, she blogs at CatholicMom.com.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing Kelly! I ran VBS at my parish (Cat Chat Cathletics) and it was so fun! Skits were a huge part of our program this year and the middle schoolers performed them. It really helped reinforce the message. Also, this year we had our newly ordained Deacon come in and talk about a different virtue each day. The kids loved hanging out with him and feel connected with him. We also tried to do a few crafts that the kids could use throughout the year, like home made prayer card books. With dollar store photo albums, each day the kids put in the holy card of the saint of the day and decorated page in the book. Now at home, they continue to fill the books with more holy cards that they collect. My daughter scoured the house for holy cards and filled hers! Now she takes it to church to look at and can recite all the names of the saints (she is 4). We continue the message of VBS throughout the year with a once a month Virtue Club that has many of the elements of VBS – saints, virtues, scriptures, music, food and games!

    • Michele, I love the holy card book idea. That’s fantastic. Thanks for sharing! We may be borrowing that idea next year, I hope.

  2. Kelly, some of my favorite memories is attending Summer Bible School with Aunt Marge and Aunt Millie. Learning songs and Bible stories, making new friend and felling a little closer to our Lord. Later, the three of us helped at camp. It was so much fun to be with the children in camp, a bit different from CCD. I too love the idea of the Holy Card book. Love ya

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