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Five Things I Learned At Vacation Bible School

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This last week, I led Recreation (also known as Games, Running and Craziness) at our church Vacation Bible School. (Which they call Discovery Bible Camp. Confusing, I know. See lesson #5.) It was a wild experience, one which yielded rich lessons I thought I would share with you. I present them in reverse order to increase dramatic effect – aren’t you excited? Here we go:

5.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, we’re all going to call it VBS. I completely understand the marketing behind the name, makes a lot of sense, what with our society’s current push to have our kids enrolled in camps all summer. But it’s been several years, I think, and we still all just say “blah, blah, blah at DBC, you know, VBS.”  Some things are just tradition.

4. Many of our children (and I admit that what I really mean is someone ELSE’S children) (I may in fact mean YOUR children, but I would not be so bold as to say) are strangely hesitant to get dirty, wet, or crazy goofy. What’s the deal? This may serve them well in college, I guess, if it lasts that long. But what it means now is that I had several adorable children politely decline to play with water balloons. Really? Let me get this straight, I’m sayin’ you can throw water balloons at a teacher, or one of my cool teenage helpers, and you’re not interested? Clearly, this may be a sign of the end times. Folks in charge are lucky I did not give in to my baser urges, and just push nudge some of those kids down in the dirt and pop a water balloon on their head to finish the job.  For the love of all that is holy about childhood, people, send your kids outdoors and don’t let them in until they are good and filthy!!!!

3.  I discovered on the last day, traditionally Water Play Day, that I handle disrespectful children who flaunt authority (as if they do it all the time at home with no consequences – I’m just sayin’) much better when I am armed with a squirt gun. “I said – SQUIRT – line up with your partner – SQUIRT – on that white line! SQUIRT, SQUIRT – Much better, thank you.” It actually made it way more fun. For me, at least. I am wondering if I should just add a squirt gun to my regular parenting bag of tricks. Might make those busy school mornings go more enjoyably for me. (“SQUIRT Time to get your shoes on, darlings. SQUIRT Don’t forget your lunch boxes, sweet boys….SQUIRT”)

2. Our church hasn’t crossed the line to TOO trendy or marketing-oriented, because we didn’t have any bouncy houses at VBS. (One of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff, alerted me to the bouncy house trend.) This year, we didn’t even have a live DBC/VBS band for our music. But boy, howdy, did the six little boys in my car have a good week.  (Yes, six. Did I mention I was REALLY tired?) They were smilin’, worn out, theme-song-singin’, Scripture-memorizing boys-o-happy.  Just goes to show, if you love Jesus,  have a passion for what He can mean to kids, and have or can fake ridiculous quantities of energy, you don’t need no stinkin’ fancy bouncy houses.

1. You know the most important thing I learned at VBS this year? After not quite a week of yelling, cheering, clapping, encouraging and occasionally just plain scolding 200 kids playing all manner of games? I realized that this particular job is simultaneously one I am pretty darned good at, and one I do not enjoy in a deep-down-satisfying, passions-and-gift matching kind of way.  No fault of anyone’s, cause there was AMAZING leadership and I had BEYOND AMAZING helpers. Really, I had teenagers that were kind, good-natured, and willing to do anything I needed with a smile. Kids that saw the little ones who hadn’t figured it out, or who needed a special hug, and who were there for them. And a copilot adult who helped me brainstorm through every game that didn’t quite connect, who went with the flow while rolling with the punches in all good humor.

I was blessed with all that, and I still wasn’t digging it.  Was actually ANTI-digging it.

The big lesson? That’s ok. I wouldn’t do it for a job, or as a long-term commitment. I strongly believe life is too short not to spend time doing things you are both good at and that you enjoy. Not even as a mom. I am a strong believer in not martyring my long-term happiness to the cause of my kids’ short-term happiness.

But for one week out of the year, to help 200 kids learn that hangin’ with Jesus’ peeps can be fun, to have 6 happy kids singing in the van at the end of the day, that is ok.

Next year though, next year is the last year all three of my boys will be the right ages to be in VBS. So for next year, me, I’m dropping off and peelin’ rubber.

Peace out, VBS.

4 responses »

  1. Love it! I totally missed being part of it this year, but it sounds like it was yet another awesome year! I agree…you don’t need no stinkin’ bouncy houses! I’ve always thought about the SQUIRT tactic and, due to your analysis here, I think I will proceed forward and include it in my parenting toolbox. At the same time I’ll also prepare my kids for some good ole’ fashion dirt and water balloon fun so they can confidently and gladly pelt authority when appropriate. Cheers to VBS!

  2. Wait just a minute! Whoa!!! How can any of my adorable LITTLE grandsons be getting nearly too old for VBS? That is just so wrong. It was bad enough when you and your brother got too old…but not the boys, not yet!

  3. Yeah, right, Tara. You’re going to just say “NO” when the ones in charge approach you and remind you that you are the absolute best ruler of the recreation time at VBS. That I will believe when I see it (or hear about it more likely). I’m sure that the job takes a great deal more planning and coordinating and rounding up of equipment than the average person knows, so kudos to you for having completed a successful week.



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