Some of the people at Vacation Bible School actually are on vacation. And we’re not talking about the kids.
One hundred and ten volunteers are helping with VBS at Evangelical Free Church this week. Some of those adults like VBS so much they take time off from work.
“Some of them actually do take vacation time from their jobs to be at Vacation Bible School,” said Dawn Feely, who is the church’s children’s ministries director.
Having enough help at GI Free’s VBS is not a problem. With about 200 kids attending this week, there’s more than one volunteer for every two kids.
What’s neat “is we don’t have a hard time finding the volunteers. We’ve got probably more volunteers than we need. That’s a great problem,” said Lead Pastor Dan Bretton.
Middle schoolers help out with the preschool/kindergarten program, which is called ROAR! The other volunteers are high schoolers through adults.
GI Free starts recruiting those volunteers in February. The interest and excitement from the volunteers drives the programming and excitement “with our staff members and with the children,” Feely said.
“We love kids at GI Free, and it’s clear that we do when so many volunteers plan to help out with them every day of a week in the summer,” she said.
The week performs an important function for some kids. Jaxon Schmitz and Cheyenne Veach appreciate spending time with kids their own age. The two 10-year-olds don’t live around many other young people. Schmitz lives between Grand Island and Phillips and goes to school in Giltner. The only kid who lives near him is two years younger. He likes making new friends during the week. Veach lives close to Fullerton and goes to school in Central City.
GI Free obviously likes the theme of its VBS. This is the 14th summer in a row that the church has offered MEGA Sports Camp. It is for kids who just completed kindergarten through fifth grade.
It stays fresh because some of the activities change each summer, said Feely, who has been VBS director for 11 years.
This year’s activities are archery, baseball, basketball, cooking, crafts, creative treats, fishing, flag football, pickleball, science experiments and taekwondo. Mini-golf was planned but had to be canceled due to illness.
Kids take the same activity all five days. Each morning’s session runs about an hour and a half.
During the week, “We’re going to learn the fundamentals and build on them,” Feely said.
On Wednesday, taekwondo teacher Steve Rees said the kids went from knowing nothing to being “able to do combinations — a block, punch and a kick.”
Kids who sign up for fishing pile into a van and go fishing at various lakes around town.
The goal of VBS “is to teach kids about Jesus and his love for them,” and how he sacrificed his life for us, Feely said.
Bretton says VBS helps kids “develop their relationship with God, and then also have fun developing whatever skill they choose” to pursue during the week.
One thing Julia Kleinsasser learns at VBS is you have to keep working hard. “Everything’s not that easy,” says the 8-year-old, who lives in Elba.
Each activity has a head coach and a huddle coach. The latter assists the head coach and helps maintain good behavior among the kids.
They’re also “responsible for maintaining small group devotional time during the morning,” Feely said.
VBS runs from 9 to 11:30 a.m. each day. Each morning begins with an opening rally and finishes with a closing rally.
Except for an optional $10 t-shirt, VBS is free. But campers are asked to bring donations to help schoolkids in Zambia. The money goes to buy uniforms and Bibles and to finish work on a latrine. As of Wednesday, the group has raised $595.66 for those projects.