St. Alban’s, Annandale, hosted a Harry Potter themed Vacation Bible School in 2011.
By Meg Schwarz, Assistant for Christian Formation
It may be difficult to believe, in the midst of ice, snow and ever-fluctuating winter temperatures, that the chlorine-smelling, knee-skinning and slow-moving days of summer will be here in a few short months. We are hopeful that summer camp is already a part of your 2015 summer plans (if not, please let us change your mind!), but even if your children’s cups are overflowing with warm weather activities, where does faith formation fit into your summer schedule? It is all too easy to let the summer months fly by with beach trips and family reunions before you realize that perhaps spirituality, on a familial and personal level, has taken a seasonal backseat. The beaming sun and all-encompassing warmth of those several months may make us feel invincible, but what better time to fully experience the embracing love of God than a season where welcoming the light is effortless and before we sink into the frosty depths of winter?
A tried-and-true way to integrate faith into your busy summer is through Vacation Bible School. I’m sure many of us fondly remember the active weeks of childhood spent creating art, getting our hands dirty and learning about the holy mysteries at VBS. However, just because VBS has been a part of summer Christian formation for years doesn’t mean that THIS summer is not the perfect time to consider or reimagine what a week of faith programming could look like in your parish. We have compiled several resources which we believe will be helpful as you consider what lies ahead this summer for the youth of your church. Whatever Vacation Bible School looks like for you and your community – whether it be a full week (or several!) of carefully planned lessons and activities or a few days of discovering what God looks like in your everyday lives – we hope you take some time to explore these links and consider how they can fit into your plan for VBS this summer and for summers to come.
- At Key Resources, Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for the Ministry of Teaching (CMT) shares helpful resources and research surrounding faith formation and how to effectively live and teach it in many different ways. A particularly exciting resource that the CMT shares is the Vacation Bible School Review Fair. Each winter, the CMT gathers significant curricula and literature regarding VBS and offers it in a fair format. This year, the fair will take place on Saturday, February 28 from 10 a.m.-2: p.m. and from Monday, March 2 to Friday, March 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. To find out more about the Center for the Ministry of Teaching, please visit their website.
- LeaderResources, an online library which offers downloadable resources for Christian formation, shares a handful of exciting and thematic ideas that would work wonderfully as plans for VBS. From a medieval pilgrimage to exploring different ways to pray through children’s literature, you will find several innovative and colorful ways to engage your youth through Vacation Bible School!
- The Society of St. Andrew, a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to leading others into lives of Christian community and service, has created a stand-alone VBS curriculum regarding hunger-action and its relevance in the Bible. This FREE program includes everything you will need to get your youth excited about feeding the hungry through a lense of mission.