by Cori Hilsgen
Area children had an opportunity to explore camping and the outdoors during this year’s Vacation Bible School session. While studying aspects of nature, children learned how to turn to Jesus for direction in their lives.
Ninety-six St. Joseph area children, ages four to sixth grade, participated in this year’s VB School program held Aug. 12-16.
The theme this year was “Sonrise National Park – Point Yourself to Jesus.” Activities included an opening prayer, a nature lesson and a Bible story, games, snacks, crafts and music.
Held at Resurrection Lutheran Church in St. Joseph, VBS is coordinated between area churches. This year’s program was coordinated between the RLC, St. Joseph Catholic Church and Gateway Community Church. The coordinators of the event were Rachel Kuebelbeck from Resurrection, Pam Funk from St. Joseph’s and Pastor Bruce Tessen from Gateway.
VBS participants explored an outdoor theme and how to look to Jesus for direction. Kuebelbeck said the theme was a fun way to provide an introduction to camping for children who haven’t had a chance to enjoy camping and nature.
Kuebelbeck said lessons focused on examples of how a compass always points north and how students should turn to Jesus for strength. Units studied were true riches, true power, true peace, true hope and true love.
Kuebelbeck said lessons were meant to show the children examples of how Jesus gives strength and direction in all aspects of our lives.
Each day, participants studied animals and aspects of nature, reinforced with a Bible story and “hands-on” opportunities for children. One snack-time included making acorns out of donut holes, graham crackers, pretzel sticks and frosting when studying about squirrels. Another snack-time included using bread crusts, marshmallows and mini chocolate chips to create moose and caribou.
More than 60 volunteers worked together to coordinate the fun-filled week for VBS participants.
Kuebelbeck said the volunteers are very important to the VBS program
“We are so blessed with the volunteer turnout,” Kuebelbeck said. “Every year I am so impressed with their willingness to donate time to show God’s love to the children of the St. Joseph community.”
“There are close to 60 volunteers to help make the event run every night,” Funk said. “We appreciate the community support to help with the expenses so more kids can participate.”
Kuebelbeck said music volunteers working with the students took only a 10-minute break each night. Music volunteers included Pastor Duaine Bruns and his wife, Jeanne; Anita Fischer, the song leader; Michelle Lage, who played the guitar; and Deanna Birk, who played the drums. Nancy Throlson and her daughter, Beth, were assistant song leaders and helped teach the kids the hand actions to accompany the songs.
At the end of the program, each family of VBS participants received a music CD. Kuebelbeck said the music is vibrant, and participants often sing the songs all year long. Many will remember songs from past years. Volunteer Jody Knop’s son, Joel, is a fifth-grade student who can remember the music he sang when he was in kindergarten.
Volunteer Gina Anderson has been helping with VBS for about five years. Her two children, Lydia and Lance, attend the program. Anderson helped with snacks and taught lessons. One lesson was on temptations and some of the ways children could resist temptation.
“I think it’s a great way to get kids and the community involved,” Anderson said. “It exposes kids to God’s word in a fun way.”
Pam Funk has been helping with the VBS program for three years.
“It’s exciting to see the kids enjoy God’s word,” Funk said.
She said her two children, Justin and Brandon, have a blast. Justin has been attending VBS for four years.
“I like the music and games,” Justin Funk said. “They are a lot of fun.”
VBS participant, Tressa Heinen, wished the program would run longer.
“I am having so much fun, I wish this would go until school starts,” Heinen said.
Participants filled a tent with different foods that would be used while camping and donated it to the St. Joseph Food Shelf.