Friday, May 25, 2012

VBS Prep

If you're a part of most any evangelical Christian church in the US, your church is most likely holding a Vacation Bible School this summer.  I LOVE VBS!  I think this is because I had an awesome VBS director in Mrs. Jean, but the entire church I attended growing up was involved in this very important week every year.  We held the training for our association at our church, so many months before the actual event, we were preparing decorations and dance moves (before the SBC hired someone to come up with them) to go along with the theme song, created skits, and most importantly, prayed for the training and our VBS.

I've felt kind of behind with my preparations for VBS this year because I've had a few other distractions this year.  I had taken on the part-time, very flexible, breastfeeding peer counselor position.  I very much enjoyed getting to work with moms, but I stepped into an alternate position so I wouldn't have to go into the office every week, so now I feel better about it.  The other distraction was the decision my husband and I made to begin homeschooling this fall.  I was cross-eyed for several weeks making curriculum decisions, comparing prices, and finally putting in my orders, along with planning my schedule for the year. 

Being pleased with my progress there, I turn my eyes fully toward VBS and the birthday party planning for three of my four kids.  June and July is crazy around here, y'all!

While I had helped decorate for years and had helped in crafts some on a mission trip, when it came time for me to teach my own class for the first time I was a little overwhelmed at the thought.  While I was a summer missionary, the team I worked with helped several churches with VBS.  My role during that time had always been to be a clown.  I didn't have the responsibility of teaching a class.  Yep, the clown part you read right.  I was Sugar the clown for about eight years.  Anywho, the first class I was given to teach when I was twenty and on a break from summer classes in college, was the fifth and sixth grade boys.  I don't know that anyone else wanted them, but they were a joy! 

Since that first time of teaching VBS, I've learned a few things, and I thought I'd share for anyone else who may be in the VBS preparation trenches right about now.

Go to your association or state VBS training if offered.  Ok, it's a little too late for this first suggestion, but make plans for next year.  Yes, it may cost you a Saturday morning and $10, but it helps.  If you struggle with decorations, as I do, it helps to get a visual picture in person of what rooms should look like and talk to someone in person about how to put them together.  You can also get many a Bible study tip from little old ladies who've been teaching for years.

Get your curriculum as soon as your director will release it to you.  March isn't too early.  Read your lessons.  Begin collecting all those crazy items you can't imagine how you'd possibly use.  Get your head in the game even if you don't possibly have the time to start cutting out those gazillion pieces of paper you'll need for various games and activities.

Have a folder for each day's gazillion pieces of paper.  If you can start the cutting early enough to save last minute stresses, don't stress yourself out by losing all the pieces.  Put them in seperate folders.

Have a bag for each day's "accessories".  This is new for me.  I heard about it at my training.  I like it.  I have a paper grocery bag for my day 1 (which involves having pieces of paper wadded up into balls to resemble rocks).  It's nice to have all the unusual items put together in a neat way too.  I can just grab each bag as I head out each day to teach. 

Learn the songs and the dances.  Don't be afraid to do them.  The enthusiasm you put forth will be reflected in the kids.  The best teachers are the ones who don't care what they look like.  God sees your heart, and He will reward.

Work on decorations, but realize they're not the most important thing.  Bible study is more important than any craft or amazing waterfall you hang in your classroom.

Pray, pray, pray.  Only God can change the hearts of your students and lead them to Himself.  He can divert any difficulties that may be hurled your way that week.

Be prepared to share the Gospel.  Sure the pastor can and should talk to the kids, but don't be scared to be a part of the most amazing thing that can ever happen in a child's life.  Don't let your fear keep you from experiencing the blessing of being the one God used to lead a child to Himself.  Remember your ABC's!