Faith UMC Offers New Spin on Vacation Bible School
By Patty Prince, Faith UMC
When a team of five ladies at Faith UMC in
The more than 80 students who attended the four-week Kidz Adventure camp answered that question with an emphatic yes! And, the testimonies of participants such as 4-year-old Kaydance prove that paying
attention to the “mission field” around them is an essential step to minister to the needs of people.
Kaydance’s family is new to the neighborhood, and had not yet met any friends in the community. Then, one day the kids’ Bible study lesson focused on generosity. Kaydance knew immediately with whom she would share the cupcakes she had decorated in class and packaged in a takeout box decorated with scriptures on giving.
Campers show off their cake decorating skills.
When she climbed in the car with the box, her mom asked if the gift was for her. The little girl responded, “No. It’s for that man that rocks in the rocking chair.” When they got home, her mother said, the two of them walked down to the man’s house and sure enough, he was sitting out on the front porch.
Kaydance gave her cupcakes to him. The man’s eyes began to tear up and then he told them his story. His wife had Alzheimer’s. He had cared for her as long as he could; but, just recently, had to put her in a nursing home. His son, who was paralyzed, lived with him and was in a wheelchair. The man said his entire day was spent caring for his son and then traveling to the nursing home to visit a wife that no longer remembered him.
He was touched by Kaydance’s gift and the fact that she had thought of him! Kaydance’s mother retold the story through tears. Touched by what her little girl had done and the impact it had, she said Kaydance’s actions had “renewed her faith.” Extravagant generosity was just one of the lessons that Kaydance and camp-mates learned when Faith UMC took a faith step and ministered outside of the walls of their church.
Evolution of adventure For several months earlier, the people of Faith UMC had worked tirelessly to sort, pack, and move items from their church into storage, items that wouldn’t be needed over the next year while worshipping at their interim location – a local intermediate school.
They knew the easiest option was to forego a program that summer. Having already seen the miraculous things God had done for their church by merging two dying churches into a strong and vibrant one, they began to consider the possibilities. So, instead of canceling the summer program, the leadership team began to construct a new thing.
In the past, the summer program consisted of a traditional
The members decided to accept Bishop Huie’s challenge to churches to, ‘go beyond their doors,’ encourage folks to step out of their comfort zone and become actively involved in risk-taking mission and service.
In an effort to re-evaluate what they were doing in their children’s ministry, the team met the next day for nearly five hours the next day to simply learn about today’s kids. Children’s ministry magazines, the internet, books, and actual kids explained what kids think, need, like, listen to and watch.
Campers get ready for the great bake-off contest.
Instead of VBS, they’d host a camp. Instead of one week, they’d spread it over four. This summer, they would write curriculum instead of purchasing it.
They would call upon volunteers from the community to share their talents. And, for the first time, they’d charge a fee for the program, thereby increasing the value of what they were offering.
For this small planning team, this was risk-taking ministry. Thus, Kidz Adventure Camp was born. Within days, they had a place for the camp. A church member, Lorna Badon Knaus, had offered her dance studio for the church’s use. Her only request – that the studio be used for God’s glory and for the enjoyment of the children.
The camp offered four distinctly different sessions for the children. Each session, Survivor Quest, Kidz-in-the- Kitchen, Art Exploration, and Express Yourself, would give children an opportunity to learn new skills, form new friendships, and connect with Christ on a more personal level.
Karen Kissel designed the Kidz Adventure Camp logo and registration material, which was bulk mailed to 500 targeted households. Newspaper articles were submitted to local papers. Prior to mailing the registration forms, the leaders offered prayers for the success of the camp.
Last year’s free VBS program reached 34 children. The leaders prayed that God would double that number in 2008. By the time Kidz Adventure Camp was over, registration had topped over 80 children – 56 were from families outside the church.
As the numbers continued to increase, so did the volunteers. A local photographer offered to teach the photo editing class; two renowned artists volunteered to teach an acrylics class; a bakery-owner taught cake decorating; local chefs judged at “The Great Cake Challenge” contest; a dance instructor taught interpretive dance, and a master puppeteer taught puppetry to all the children. Fifty-five volunteers made Kidz Adventure Camp a success. The blessings did not stop there.
Through community donations and registration fees, the church was able to offer an exceptional camp without a burden to the budget. At the end of each camp, children went home with a collection of goodies: ribbons, animal necklaces, paintings on canvas, watercolors painted, handmade puppets, aprons, cookbooks, joke books, and homemade greeting cards and cupcakes to share with others. This summer God gave Faith UMC more than they had asked for and doubly blessed the efforts of risk-taking mission.