Monday, July 30, 2007

VBS Time, Again....OY VEY!

Seems like the last 2 months of summer get crammed with one activity after another for us, so that come August, my kids are actually looking forward to going back to school just to get a break!
This summer has been especially taxing. My kids have had something going on almost every week for over a month! 'Tween ball season, summer camps, "Kid's College" and a band camp for the eldest on tap for later in August, we've barely had time to catch our breaths- to say nothing about the mini-dramas that have been swirling around us here at the ranch. (Which I really will talk about once I can get a moment to...someday.)

Today is the start of our VBS at our church. And once again, I've been pressed into service on many fronts. Some days I really resent having to do so many assigned chores in preparation for this event, but that only lasts for a nonosecond. Really, I do get a kick out of it, once it's up and's just all the behind the scenes prep work that makes me crazy!

Once again we have opted for a very ambitious program that is produced by Group VBS.
This company cranks out VBS curriculum that is like none I've ever known and somehow, despite having a small church, we manage to pull it off, year after year. This our 3rd year using this company's material.
Group has taken the familiar concept and format of VBS and gave it a delightful twist. The VBS I knew as a child always included songs, a brief lesson for the day, crafts, snacks, some playtime and games and a skit or 2. These guys keep all that but it's packaged and presented in a unique way. The concept is that you are back in Jesus' time. Instead of classes divided by age, all the kids are assigned to 'family tribes', corresponding to the 12 tribes. (Judah, Issacar, Benjamin, Naphtali, etc.) A tribe can have many kids in different age groups and are led by the Tribe Leader, which is the teacher for the week. Craft time takes place in the Marketplace, where different tribe groups visit a different 'shopkeeper' every day and make something to take home. In the past we have had a carpenter shop, a tilemaker, a dye shop, a weavers shop, etc. The deal is the shopkeepers assume an identity and must stay in character. For example, this year I am the sandalmaker and I'm kinda on the fence about this Jesus guy. He might be the real deal, but then again, he might be just like all those other whackjob prophets that have blown through town before. My job, aside from teaching them to make a simple pair of flip-flop like sandals they can wear is to engage in conversation with the kids about their opinions of Christ and to challenge them to convince me that He is for real as the week goes on. Should be fun.

The younger kids get totally into the make believe, the older, they just play along for the most part, but they all do enjoy it.
Game time is at the Village playground, this year it'll be target practice with foam tipped arrows and bows and learning how to play old school marbles and a few other simple games from way back. Maybe not totally historically accurate, but hey...

Snacktime is just homemade bread and water drawn from the well. We are lucky in that we actually have a well on our church property and one of the old farmers had rigged up a windlass and bucket for the kids to get water. (And yes, we have had the water tested! It's A-o.k. to use.) The kids always fuss over who gets to go draw water for their tribe. They all want to do it.

And then there's the daily skits. Everyday the tribes easedrop on some little drama being played out near the Marketplace by some of the 'villagers' (other church members in costume and character.) The skit always ties in with whatever lesson point is for that day. Since the theme this year is Galilee, then the skits will all have something to do with the time Christ was there. Like on Tuesday, I'm pulling double duty as a skit player and sandalmaker. My character has just come back from listening to Jesus' sermon on the mount and is putting the words into action by apologizing to her friend for all the rotten things she had said behind her back in the past and vows to change her ways and treat her friend better. Y'know, the whole Golden Rule riff. Her friend isn't convinced that the apologies are for real; my character finally convinces her to go and listen to this teacher for herself. (I'll have to change my appearance and voice some, so's not to confuse the little ones with my sandal shop persona. But that's the challenge we face trying to pull this off with such a small congregation.)

Anyway, you get the drift. It's quite an undertaking and we get busy planning and working on this event at the first of the year. But, it's worth it. The kids always enjoy it and get alot out of it and the big people are finally getting into it, too, and look forward to it. At first I was worried that the old timers would balk because the whole deal is "too Jewish", but so far no ones complained. Every year it gets a little easier, but it's still a major job to pull off.
Oh and did I mention that we do all this outside? We've been lucky so far that we've had no late in the day thunderstorms in the past...we're praying for clear weather for this week!

Now, I have to get going...I still have some last minute touches to do on some costumes. Yeah...I'm also the costume designer, too. I've cranked out 6 different villager outfits so far over the weekend, to add to the bunch we already have on hand over the past couple of years.
Shalom, baby!


Blogger Lemuel Calhoon said...

I'm printing this post out and giving it to the VBS folks at my church.

8/03/2007 3:52 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

By all means, Lem! You're welcomed to it.
This program is very adaptable and can work for big congregations and small, with a little tweaking to the general format. The initial costs can be a little high- but most props, costumes and tribe items can be used year after year after that. This program gets everyone involved and we utilize the talents of all. We have one dear old elderly man who is skilled at woodworking and he loves to make things for our craft projects every year. Last year he made up over 50 little wooden boxes, with lids, for our mosaic craft (the kids used broken ceramic tiles-again, freebies from a local home improvement store-to decorate the top of the boxes. If we had bought the boxes from Group, it would have been over 150 bucks for them!) He did this gratis, that was his contribution, since his age and health prevented him from physically participating during VBS week out in the heat and all. And, I might add, his boxes were of a much higher quality than those offered by Group!

Encourage you VBS committee to check out the GroupVBS site and give serious, prayful consideration to giving it a try. It is truly a really great time for all involved and we all get so much from it. The music and songs every year are also outstanding and memorable. Our music director just loves this program.

PS- It's also a wonderful outlet for any resident hambones in your church! I speak from experience!; )

8/04/2007 10:00 AM  

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