Behind the scenes of Vacation Bible School

GFD Vacation Bible School

Each spring I write a column providing information about Vacation Bible Schools or Day Camps offered by local churches. Some readers have said it’s helpful and that they look forward to reading it in the newspaper. Of course, each program is as different as the congregation sponsoring it, but they have many aspects in common: volunteer workers, hours of planning time, a carefully crafted curriculum and a devotion to sharing God’s love with children from the community.
I would like to illustrate what a VBS program is like by describing one of South Valley’s most successful programs, “Super Hero Academy,” which is presented by The Foothills Foursquare Church, 8335 Church St. in Gilroy.
Unlike most churches, Foothills decided to create its own program rather than present one that was already available commercially. To do this, planning began nearly a year in advance with a dozen leaders choosing a theme and brainstorming curriculum ideas.
As plans developed, an appeal went out for donations from the congregation: food, craft items, paper plates and napkins, material for capes, jewels for decoration, empty toilet paper rolls for arm bands, etc. Although the church’s budget finances the program, these donations keep the cost down and allow children to attend at no cost.
More than 100 adult volunteers who worked directly with children were fingerprinted and background-checked; they joined with teens from the congregation to prepare and serve snacks, decorate rooms, handle registration, direct traffic and perform a multitude of other tasks to serve the 319 children, kindergarten through fifth grade, who attended.  
Participants rotated through activity stations each day from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: a café for snacks, a theatre for Bible stories, a science lab for experiments and presentations by special guests. A missions station allowed children to plant flowers for senior citizens and write appreciative letters to servicemen. Other activities included singing, trust falls, an obstacle course, water games and mask-making.
The program’s theme was to discover what makes a super hero and how to become one; each day had a different focus:
– Prayer
– Faith: The Gilroy Fire Department provided an engine and firefighters in full gear to demonstrate life-saving techniques.
– Courage: The Gilroy Police Department provided a SWAT team and K-9 unit to demonstrate public safety practices.
– Victory: A U.S. Army recruiter discussed serving our nation, defending it and keeping it safe.
– The Word: Each participant received a copy of the Bible to take home and keep of “a manual to living life.”
On the final day there was a concluding celebration with a jump house, and diplomas were presented to each child who had achieved super hero status by participating in the program. All materials left over from the week’s activities were donated to a church in Modesto for use in their Vacation Bible School program.
To learn about next year’s VBS program at Foothills Church call (408) 848-3100 or email [email protected]

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