We have had Vacation Bible School this week - four long, active nights. Steve taught science to the 1st through 4th graders. Rachel was in the 2nd grade class. Katherine was in the Tweens crew. And I led the 5th and 6th graders. The Tweens. This was my second year to take on this group, and while I don't usually work with these ages, it has been fun to get to know them during VBS. Katherine has tolerated my presence in her class and I think secretly even enjoyed it. I have tried not to do anything too dorky and never mention that I am her mom, even though most of the kids know.
Our church combines with two others for VBS, so there are a LOT of kids. The curriculum for the Tweens was, well, babyish and kind of dumb. So the other leaders and I scrapped it and made our own activities, all revolving around food, and adding mission/service projects and field trips to plans. I promised the kids that there would be no puppets, no crafts, and no stupid songs. And they LOVED everything we did.
We started every evening with some play time. I hauled in toys from my classroom and our home game closet and just played. It was a good way to stay busy while everyone was arriving and well, just fun.
The first night, we had a volunteer from our local community food pantry come and talk to us about his work there. About the nearly 9,000 people they have served this year and the ton and a half of food he bought last week and about all the ways that people, even kids, can help stock the pantry.
The second night, we took a field trip to a local farm. We visited their goats (grown for their angora fur) and learned about their honeybees. Then we headed out to the vast gardens.
The third night, my friend Shirley came and talked to the kids about how she started the free community dinner at our church and how the idea has spread to other churches, so that there are free meals in town 5 days a week. Shirley has a way of drawing people in and making them feel special, even when she is supposed to be talking about herself. She had the kids identify their strengths, what the were good at, and then let them brainstorm ways they could use those strengths to help others. The kids were absolutely riveted!
The last night, we gathered up all of the canned goods we had collected and delivered it to the food pantry.