Monday, September 24, 2012
VBS 2012: Paul & the Underground Church
When compared to the other 3 years I've directed, this year had the best and largest group of workers but the smallest amount of kids. I partially blame the weather for the lack of kids...it poured! Thanks to the workers and the set-up of the curriculum, it turned out to be the best VBS I've directed so far.
We started in the Sanctuary with Extollo (Praise and Worship), a few rules, and collections of canned goods. We normally do penny wars to raise money for VBS, but I really have been feeling lately that we need to reach out to the community instead of staying wrapped up in ourselves. I wanted VBS to somehow help others, and a canned food drive helped do that. We pitted boys against girls, using 2 of our outspoken youth workers as the bait. The winning side (girls!) got to slam a pie into the face of the other.
From there we broke off into family groups. I've always separated them by ages, but Group recommended separating them into family groups with varying ages in them. I was skeptical at first, but it made sense. The older ones can help the younger ones, siblings aren't split up unless they want to be, and friends with an age difference can stick together. It worked out wonderfully! I said last year that having 13 & 14 year-olds volunteer didn't work well, so we included them among the family groups. Volunteers had to be 15 and up.
The rotation included the lesson, games, and the Marketplace. The lesson was split between Paul (under house arrest and chained to a Roman guard) and the Underground Church (hidden in a cave to avoid being caught). Breaking up the lesson helped the kids not to get bored by staying in 1 place for too long. The cave was just a room at the end of a hallway, but they made it small and cave-like with a tent, black fabric, and orange lights in the "fire."
The games were led by 2 Roman guards. I feel a little guilty admitting that I don't know what games they did, but the kids always came away happy, no one was injured, and they seemed fine the couple of times I peeked my head in to check on them.
The Marketplace was my favorite part. We held it in the gym and decorated it with a couple of large canopies draped in brown fabric. Here, the kids had dinner and made crafts. The craft booths were where the youth volunteers were used the most, and they all dressed in togas. One of the purposes of the Marketplace was to give the kids a chance to witness to others. I told the booth workers (following Group's recommendations) to ask the kids about their beliefs, keeping in mind that Christians were persecuted. I planned for 4 craft booths everyday, thinking at least 1 or 2 of them could be used the next day (with a 3-day VBS). I admit it...I was wrong. With so few kids, they flew through those crafts. No one had to wait their turn for anything, and I was left scrambling for more booth ideas by the last day. A couple of Group's booths just weren't feasible for us like the Animal Sacrifice booth (I couldn't bring animals into the gym) or the Carpenter's booth that made wooden tops (I couldn't buy the supplies from Group since it was an old curriculum). Here were our booths, some from Group and some from us:
*Wreathmaking - paper leaves and flowers stapled to ribbon and worn as a headband
*Pottery - pinch pots made from air-dry clay. I had leftover clay and the kids seemed to enjoy it, so we did pottery twice.
*Archery - with a couple of the cheap archery sets from Dollar General.
*Sword fighting - Pool noodles. The idea was to learn some about blocking and sparring, but they had a blast just smacking each other. Made me a little nervous about injuries, but thankfully no one was hurt. I think it only worked because we did have such a small group.
*Bracelets - used ribbons and pull tabs. This was a last-minute idea from one of the youth workers.
*Scribe - Calligraphy pen and a scribe tool so they could practice with either one. I included the Greek alphabet and a few examples of Greek words if they wanted to write those.
*Architecture - Toothpicks and tootsie rolls, with a prize for whoever built the tallest structure and the one that could support the most weight.
*Some kind of brooch - I forget what it was called, but the craft was based on a decorated brooch that Romans wore. It was a simple craft with safety pins and beads.
*Guard recruitment - push-ups, sit-ups, weight training. Do you have what it takes to be a guard?
*Mosaics - They glued construction paper pieces to form a mosaic.
*I'm forgetting one, but I'm also posting almost 2 months late, so I guess I'm bound to forget something.
I didn't advertise quite as much this year either, so that will be one thing to do differently next year. Other than that, I learned I love Group's set-up of this series and hope to be doing the next in the series for 2013.