As something of an expert in camp and VBS experiences, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that the 2019 Team missions conference VBS was a success.
Before a small group of us piled into a van and drove to Spain for the week, we planned. Starting with the theme of the Kingdom of God and Matthew 19:14, we wrote out lessons for each day based on passages in the Bible and thought through games, crafts, snacks, and songs to go along with each message. Though we did have a time of group worship, game together, and were mixed for the treasure hunt, one of our main events, most of the time the kids were divided into three groups by age. Each group had a program tailored for their developmental level. For example, my five to seven-year-old group had much shorter storytime lessons than the oldest group of teenagers who analyzed and discussed the text of the day. Most of the time we stayed in our rooms because we all had an extra challenge: the weather. It rained every day but the Thursday, the day we had our family field trip.
Truth be told, some of my favorite moments were from being driven indoors. We had to get creative. We did worm races down the hallway (no arms or legs just wiggling), the game “statues” (also known as me announcing poses and being very silly and still simultaneously), and reworked our treasure hunt to be a building-wide but mostly in bathrooms situation.
The treasure hunt was a special success for me because quite honestly, those amazing race-type, everyone must participate adventure games almost never work. Someone gets lost in the shuffle and doesn’t have fun or is simply left out in the clue finding fun parts. I remember being that that kid. The not quite fast enough, inhaler-holding kid who worked twice as hard to keep up. No matter what the activity, it's not fun when you feel like you are letting down your group which is why in managing my group, I made sure different kids found the well-hidden clues. Sometimes being small helped them see things that the taller kids missed, and for the last step, the oldest of our group did the bulk of the brainwork. Plus, the entire hunt wasn’t about winning or being first. We made a unique and separate series of clues for each group and didn’t celebrate first, second, or third, but did encourage the effort involved in each quest. It was more work on our end, but it was important to show that some things aren’t about being “The Best" but doing your best together to do something important, in this case seeking out the great treasure, the treasure that the man sold everything he had to have. Also, a bag of chocolate coins was a nice bonus after running up and down stairs.
Other fun things we did were silly song time filled with such classics as “Father Abraham” and “This Little Light of Mine,” which we performed for all of the parents at the end of the week; passports, an idea stolen straight from my childhood church’s tradition of missions Sunday; introducing “Signs” to Spain; and just hanging out with the kids. It’s amazing how little is needed to have fun and show kids they are loved. I feel very privileged to have spent time with this great group. Plus, very little is funnier than seeing little limbs being flailed about while shout-singing "Father Abraham,” or sweeter than a hand slipping into mine as a high voice wonders when we will get to glue in another stamp to our paper passports which show our citizenship as members of the Kingdom of God. All in all, it was a pretty wonderful week.
To see more photos of this week, visit my facebook group page, Seeking After Sheep.