Vacation Bible School

At area churches, school’s ‘in’ for summer

Who knew dressing like a pirate could win souls for Christ? Or that flooding a fellowship hall could bring back memories of summer fun at church? Or that sometimes the only motivation youngsters need to raise money for missions is the prospect of putting a pie in an adult church leaders face?

The reality of all those things -- and many more -- are found in what has become a summer tradition for many churches -- Vacation Bible School.

It’s that time of year, again, with Bible schools filling the June and July calendars. Volunteers at area churches are preparing, decorating, planning and practicing as many congregations invite children of all ages to come to church for games, crafts, singing and even some dancing, all with a positive message.

But do not go expecting sugar cookies and Kool-aid or old boring games and lectures. It isn’t likely that Vacation Bible School is very much like what mom and dad remember. Today, there are planned curriculums around central themes, elaborate sets and coordinated crafts and sometimes even a whole village put together to welcome children to week-long sessions with an important Biblical message.

Blount Today talked to some of the Bible school leaders in the area about their upcoming Vacation Bible Schools and their memories of Bible school’s past.

• MONTE VISTA BAPTIST CHURCH

VBS: June 7-10 6-8:30 p.m.

1735 Old Niles Ferry Road, Maryville 865-982-6070 Carlene Talley: Children’s Minister

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“It is ‘SunQuest Rainforest - Following Jesus on a Life-Changing Adventure.’ We bought it from Gospel Light. It uses parables and talks about the teachings of Jesus.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“A lot of our church people take people to it, and we have lots of visitors who come to Bible school, so it is an outreach to the community. We have a lot of our children in the church who attend.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“I usually pick out the curriculum in January and start looking at things and gathering things. In April, we have our first meetings and get everyone on board and give out the curriculum. It takes planning. Then, as time draws near, we draw other people in to help us. We have adults of all ages and youth that help us, too. We always encourage people to pray for Bible school and invite neighbors.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“I go to a conference in January, and they have all the curriculums from all the publishers, and I pick one that looks good. We’ve been doing a different type of theme the past few years -- a Holy Land theme. This year we decided to do a different theme. It is still based on Bible stories and life-changing things children can use in their life. We look at what it is about, what scripture is used and if we think it fits the needs of our children and families now. This one -- ‘Following Jesus on Life-Changing Adventure’-- is an earthly story with heavenly meaning.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“It is one of the children’s big events and one of the most costly because of curriculum costs and things you buy. It involves a lot of people, and the people who work it get as much from it as people who come.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“It is a lot of man-hours, and some people can give a lot of hours. Yesterday for hours we set up things. We’ve had people working on crafts, and folks shopping for food. We feed our workers each night before Bible school, and we have people preparing snacks for the kids. Snack go along with the stories. Normally, we have about 50 to 55 working VBS.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“Through the years as there have been more ballgames and different things going on, kids are here sometimes every other night, so it is harder to predict. We usually invite more than come each night some. We hope to enroll, counting everybody, 200.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“If you ask different children, they’ll tell you different things. Some like the crafts, some the singing or the food. The main thing is they enjoy being together and playing and hearing the stories. It’s just a good time to get to know people and be with your friends.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“There have been two things that were really different. When we started having Bible school at night, we liked it because fathers could be involved, and it wasn’t just run by the mothers and women. The other thing was when we chose to do the Holy Land series because we were outside. We liked being outside better than anything we’ve ever done. Children love being outside. We find there are less discipline problems because they like being outside and it just a good time. It is a laid back, good learning environment, but fun too. Two years in a row it stormed on one night. One year there was a double rainbow afterwards. There is always learning going on. No matter what happens, you can use it as a learning experience.”

•FAIRVIEW UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

VBS: June 14 - 17 6 p.m. - ending times vary by age level.

2508 Old Niles Ferry Road, Maryville 865-983-2080 Wil Davenport, minister of children

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“High Seas Expedition.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“Both, definitely both. We want the kids who are already Christians. We want them to invite their friends definitely, and we want those kids already here to grow in their faith If they haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus, we hope they become ready.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“The last of December. There is lots of prayer. There are lots of invitations to have folks join the team. Finally, there’s casting the vision and all the preparing of supplies and dealing with all the details of getting everything ready to go and building the team.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“This curriculum is so creative and so well organized and so much fun. It is published by Group.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“This is by far the biggest thing we invest in our whole year. Folks work to pull it together, and we’re keeping the same budget from last year. We make choices, but the choice is not to scale it back on the number of kids invited. In fact, our goal is to have more kids.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“Around 250 people volunteer.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“I would love to average 275 to 400 kids a night.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“I think there’s just excitement about it when you see. Most folks had positive experiences at VBS in their past. There’s that expectation that you’re going to enjoy it so much, and it is one of the highlights of the summer. I think that’s what brings folks to Bible school time and time again. Also, we are a special needs VBS, and we welcome children with special needs.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“Our set is definitely of professional quality. This year it looks like a ship, like you are walking into a ship with the mast and everything.”

•DOTSON MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH

VBS: June 20-24 6-8:30 p.m. (Carnival kickoff is 5-8 p.m. June 20)

814 Dotson Memorial Road, Maryville 865-984-9240 Dr. Dale Ellenburg and VBS coordinator Angie Williams are responsible for VBS. Comments by Eunice Ownsby, secretary

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“Saddle Ridge Ranch.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It is outreach-oriented.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“Last year, we had our first directors’ meeting at the first of April. We have directors for each age group who plan for each group.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“It falls under the pastor, and is the Southern Baptist curriculum this year.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“The investment is through the church budget and with volunteer man-hours. We start planning here in the office from one year to the next.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“We have three teachers for each, so we probably we have as many 50 faculty members.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“Probably about 300 children. We usually average between 250 and 300.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“This is the first year we’ve had a carnival, so I’m sure they’ll love it. Segments are divided into Bible study, missions, crafts and refreshments. I think they enjoy each segment of it. They really enjoy Worship Rally because our pastor and music minister get involved, and the children have a good time.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“We build props for whatever the theme is. One of the most extensive themes we ever did was the year it was a safari theme. The props and things the kids made and did, it was a challenge. This year probably what will take the most effort will be the carnival.”.

•MOUNT LEBANON BAPTIST CHURCH

VBS: June 7 - 11 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

3508 Wildwood Road, Maryville 865-983-4200 Children’s and Worship Minister Ronnie Gray

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“We are doing Redemption Island, a theme we created ourselves.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It’s more of an outreach. We do our best to reach out to the community around us, and it so far has been very successful. We have had online registration for two months and the majority of those who registered are from outside our church.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“We usually start preparing after the first of the year in about January or February. We have probably about 100 people involved, from teens all the way through adults working behind the scenes getting things ready.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“We have created our curriculum this year, and we borrow some from different places and use different story lines we’ve put together.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“It’s usually a huge investment, but this year with the economy, we’ve been very sensitive to what we spend, and we’ve tried not to go overboard. We’ve tried to be very conservative this year.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“We have about 100 people, and I have two ladies who have been the assistant directors. Danna Renfro is our director of elementary school age children and Markay Jackson is director of pre-school division, and they head up those areas, getting teachers and everything. I oversee them and the grand scale of all of it.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“At this point we are looking for probably 225 to 250. We usually have been pretty consistent every year.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“Most of the time, it’s that they do great crafts that they enjoy. We have great teachers who are very creative with storytelling. They do a lot of drama and acting out stories and not just telling them. We do wild and crazy music, and it is all kinds of things they enjoy.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“It was a success. Last year, we did a theme of being in a swamp and had to build a swamp shack out of foam. ”

•MARYVILLE FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

VBS: June 6-10 5:30-8:30 p.m.

804 Montvale Station Road, Maryville 865-982-1273 Brittany Littleton - Children’s director

What is your vacation bible school theme?

“High Seas Expedition.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“We try to do both.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“Probably in January. In January, I order all my material, and they come in the spring. In March or April, I start asking for volunteers and then we have volunteer training and in May, we decorate with all our supplies.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“Yes. We compared the different ones, and we liked ‘High Seas.’ It is done by Group Publishing, and the layout is easy for leaders, and it has great hands-on activities for the children. We love their missions project this year.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“It’s a couple thousand every year. We try not to go over what we did the year before. We have about 125 kids every year and probably spend about the same amount each year.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“About 75 volunteers.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

About 125 participants.

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“Probably the thing they love the most is they love the music and dancing they do to the music. I would say that and crafts is what they enjoy best.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“I think the most elaborate thing this year is our decorations. We have hired someone to decorate and design the set, which we’ve never done. We do our assembly in the sanctuary and someone built us a boat and painted a backdrop, and it looks like there is a real boat in the sanctuary. That has been one of the most challenging things is getting that done. It is new for us this year.”

•NEW PROVIDENCE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

VBS: June 7-11 6-6:30 p.m. - dinner; 6:30-8:30 p.m. VBS; 6:30 p.m. June 11, ice cream social

703 W. Broadway Ave., Maryville 865-983-0182

Melanie Rasnake - director of children’s ministries

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“Galactic Blast, published by Cokesbury.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It is both of those things. We do outreach and open it up to the community and have a number of children from the community. It is also fellowship for our church. It is a very large part of our children’s ministry and one of the most exciting things we do for our kids. It’s a fellowship time and an education time for our church and also outreach in the community.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“We started preparing for VBS in January. It comes under the Children’s Council. That is part of our Discipleship and Education Team. We choose curriculum in January or February. The curriculum comes out in the fall and by February we nail it down and choose and start recruiting teachers and volunteers for dinner and music. It is sort of a long-range thing for us.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“The publisher comes out with the curriculum in fall, and I look at several. I usually have 15 or 20 come through, and I narrow it to 10. We look for things like the theological appropriateness and the ease of use for teachers. The biggest things are the different themes. Every publisher comes out with different themes. We look at themes and if it is similar to one we’ve done within five years, we cross it off. We try not to repeat anything. We want something that is easy to use and something that will be interesting and exciting and get them to want to come. This one has been a fun one to do.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“It is a big financial investment. It is a regularly budgeted item for our church as part of our children’s ministry so we see the importance of doing that. We also have our congregation who are great about donating items for VBS so we put the lists out early.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“With our teachers and help, we have somewhere between 40 and 50 people who help. It is a big investment of time and something our congregation is very committed to making happen.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“In the course of week, we will have typically 80 to 110 to 120. On an average night we will have around 70 kids.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“I think they enjoy that they get to learn some of stories and that things they know are taught differently in VBS. They see certain things look different and that gets them excited and makes them want to learn. It is a different approach to Christian education than we do the rest of the year. There’s a little bit of novelty involved, and they like coming and hanging out with friends and bringing their friends. We have a great time.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“I think last year when we had a canyon constructed in our upstairs hall. It was a 3-dimensional desertscape that went all the way down our elementary hall. This year we have a moonscape set up in the sanctuary and two lunar modules that have landed, so that’s pretty elaborate.”

•FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MARYVILLE

VBS: June 21-25 6-8:30 p.m. (Free snack supper available at 5:15 p.m. each evening.)

202 West Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville 865-982-5531 Connie Sager, children’s pastor; Dawn Herring, associate children’s pastor

What is your vacation bible school theme?

“We are using Group VBS curriculum High Seas Adventure.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It’s really a combination of the two. We try to target it as outreach but we also know there are lots of kids in our congregation who want to be part of it. We work with Blount Family Ministries on a pamphlet that lists eight different church’s VBS schedules. As far as kids are concerned, regardless of where they go to Vacation Bible School, we just want them to attend somewhere.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“We usually know the curriculum we’re going to use by about January, and we get real excited for a month or so, then we put it on the back burner and gear back up in late April and early May. We have workshop days where we do decorating and painting and get all the backdrops ready. We’ve had planning meetings all along.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“It is all at your fingertips, and there is not a whole lot of extra prep that goes into it. It is tried and true, and we make sure the theology matches up with our church’s theology.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“Financially speaking, we have a line item for Vacation Bible School, but we also ask in church newsletter for supplies.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“The church does a tremendous amount for Vacation Bible School. There are about 100 volunteers and the majority give three and half hours each night plus an extra five hours of planning. Maybe 10 percent of those give 20 to 25 extra hours helping prepare and decorate. We typically have 100 volunteers the week of Bible school. We use the Youth Praise Band to open and close, and they work on songs and prepare a CD so we can send that out with the kids so they have live music to listen to before they get to each night’s VBS. We ask for prayer support from members. We have people who rock the babies of folks working. It a church-wide, all-hands on deck approach. It’s one of those things where young and old participate.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“We have between 200 and 250. Typically, we have about 200 kids average every night. It ebbs and flows.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“It’s different every year. I recall thinking it is the camaraderie especially with the teens and crew leaders. The way we do rotations, there is one adult or youth with five kids and they spend the week together, and it’s a great time to get to know that person. For safety and crowd control, it’s great.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“We made an indoor pond and found out the day we set it up there was a leak, so we had a fellowship hall flooded before VBS. We definitely learned from mistakes. It wasn’t funny at the time, but I can laugh now.”

•FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF ALCOA

VBS: June 21-25 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

819 Gilbert St., Alcoa 865-982-2661 Carol Britton is children’s minister but says VBS directors who work with her include Freida Corbett who oversees Pre-school 3-4 and Susan Smith, Sandra Hollifield and Michael and Heather Bradburn, oversee elementary education.

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“We’re doing High Seas Expedition.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It’s outreach-oriented. It’s open to whoever would like to come.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“We started back in December.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“Everything goes with the theme. The children love the Chatter video. Each different episode each builds on the other. There is a great ratio of leaders to children; it is one leader to five kids.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“The church from financial aspect allows me a good-sized budget because we see it as ministry to children and the community. It is kind of our gift to the kids for the summer for something exciting to do.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“Probably about 100. There are many who give of their time for sets and help behind the scenes and for financial contributions with food. It’s a massive, volunteer effort. People come in for sets and decorations, and we’ve been working on it for a month. They put lot of time into it, and crew leaders put in time getting to know the kids.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“We average about 250 children a night.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“I think they find it to be lots of fun. They haven’t picked one thing, and I think it is exciting because we do a big set for them and skits and Bible stories come alive for them, and it all works together.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“We’ve done all kinds of things with volcanoes that erupt and waterfalls or the experiments. There have been quite a few. One year we had a funeral during Vacation Bible School week. We had had balloons at VBS that had escaped to the ceiling. During the funeral, the helium started leaking and balloons were floating down from the ceiling. Fortunately this person loved children. They would’ve love it.”

•FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF ALCOA

VBS: June 27-July 1 5:30-8:30 p.m.

617 Gilbert St., Alcoa 865-982-5551 Sherry Shelton, director of children and students.

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“It is SunQuest Rainforest and is on the parables of Jesus.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It is definitely community outreach. Where our church is located in the center of Alcoa, we get so many people who come from throughout this community we love. It’s a time of church fellowship, and it is a time to get the word of Jesus out to the community, especially to our unchurched kids. We also try at the same time to outreach in the community and always do a local mission project. We collect school supplies for Alcoa and also supplies for programs out of Peninsula Youth Village which helps troubled teens.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“I looked at the other curriculum but based on the community we are in and the unchurched kids we get, I picked this one. I wanted them to hear about Jesus everyday and that’s what they will get. We have dinner for them every night, and they rotate around to different sessions. We try to make it as easy for working parents as possible. They don’t have worry about fees. We give their children a fun time, tell them about Jesus, and they can come pick them up afterwards.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“Financially, the church budgets for it and we don’t charge anything for meals or any registration fee. We give the kids T-shirts. It’s 100 percent financed by the church and put on by volunteers. It’s an awesome time.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“It takes well over 100 volunteers to put all this together. We start months ahead recruiting volunteers. We have hundreds of people who volunteer. We have people who schedule vacations so we can be at VBS. We meet every Monday and Wednesday nights where people come and go and help get crafts ready and get the church decorated. I have crews here everyday who help us get ready. It is the biggest outreach we have in the community.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“We usually have 180, and we also offer an adult class. Counting the adults, the 3-year-olds to eighth graders and the high school kids who volunteer, we have a place for all ages.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“I just think they like coming and fellowshipping together. They love the games. If you ask them, it is the games, but it is just coming and being loved and accepted so they can have a fun time. Kids nowadays have trouble and this gives them the time to come and be loved for two or three hours and learn about Jesus and his love.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“One thing we do is after we’re through with VBS, anything we have left-over as far as decorations, we pass it to a smaller church each year. Not only are we able to use our things here in the community, but we pass it on. I guess the biggest challenge was when we were under construction and had to look at VBS a different way because we didn’t have a kitchen. We put a tent up in the park and had all our members cook at home and bring food prepared and serve it in the park. That worked out so well, now we still serve meals in the park because it ended up to be a better way of doing things.”

•OUR LADY OF FATIMA CATHOLIC CHURCH

VBS: June 27-July 1 for 7th- 12th grades. June 28-July 2 for pre-school through sixth 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 27-July 1 for 7th grade through 12th 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 28-July 2 for pre-school through sixth

860 Louisville Road, Alcoa 865-982-3672 Joyce McCormick: director of religious education

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“Our theme is called ‘Totus Tuus” which is Latin for ‘Totally Yours.’”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It is actually done by college and seminary students from Nashville. The curriculum is all done by them and based on Catholic catechesis, which is learning the faith and is geared toward the parishioners. We welcome anybody to come participate. It’s an awesome experience. This is their third year of coming to us. We find since they are college and seminary students, they are extremely high energy and have tremendous amount of faith. It’s incredible.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“Because they do the curriculum, all we do is line up the snacks and volunteers, so about month before, we start getting ready.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“Basically for us in this area in the South, it is hard to come up with good Catholic programs because the majority of the Bible schools are geared toward the Baptist faith. What we’ve done in the past is purchase a kit and adapted it to the Catechesis. Now this group creates their own curriculum, and it is based on the Rosary or different Catholic prayers and experiences, and they come up with activities and skits and teach music and we have a mass everyday for the kids. The best thing about this is two guys and two girls come ready to go, and they’ve been trained in how to teach”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“This one is kind of expensive. It is $1,400 for this group to come, and we don’t charge anything because we don’t want anyone to not come because of cost. We take proceeds from our Coke machine and pay for it and we ask for love offerings from anyone who wants to contribution. Basically, we save all year in different areas of the budget to pick up these expenses.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“We have the kids coming at night, high school age, usually 20 to 30, and they will come back during the day and help the teachers with the younger kids. Depending on the number of kids involved, we usually have five to 10 adults helping them.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“With high school students we usually have around 20 to 40. The younger kids we usually have about 100.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“I think what they like most is the fact these are young adults who are not only practicing their faith, they live it everyday and are proud of it and like to share it with other people. In this area it is hard for kids to be Catholic and hard to go to school where 95 percent are Baptists and don’t understand the difference between the two faiths. These young adults show it is cool to be Catholic and show your faith.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“The first year we had this group come we had already planned our regular VBS, and we had a new priest and he said we should do this program. We ended up offering both because the younger kids and pre-schoolers don’t participate with the older teens and college students. Getting host families can be challenging, but it works out.”

•EAST MARYVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH

VBS: June 14-18 ith Family Night June 20 8:45 a.m.-noon

1120 Brown School Road, Maryville 865-982-4960 Krista Frahme, pre-school and children’s director; VBS director Sally Joines

What is your vacation bible school theme?

“We’re doing Saddle Ridge Ranch.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It is outreach. We increased our numbers of children. We had 100 more kids last year than the year before, so we hope to do same this year.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“We really started before January. January is when we really focus on it.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“We use LifeWay materials. We find it is comprehensive. We have a pre-school school rotation, and elementary rotation and a pre-teen rotation.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“Financially we do have it in our budget every year and a lot of teachers buy things out of their own pocket to put toward it.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“We have 150 who help. The teachers spend a lot of time. They get their literature three months out and pick out supplies, and we help them get that and just preparing for everyday is a lot of work.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“Last year we had over 400 children, and we’re hoping to have that many or more -- between 400 and 500.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“I think they like getting to move from classroom to classroom, and everything relates. We have an opening ceremony, a worship rally, we have announcement girls. We do things about the theme every day, and everything else relates back to what they learned in Worship Rallies. It is the crafts, mission, recreation and music. And they have Bible story time and snacks. It’s all related to the theme for the day.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“Last year we had a big train out front, and we were trying to get it set up in the rain. Things would work but then things would blow off of it.”

•FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH

VBS: June 20-25 6-8:30 p.m.

400 S. Court St., Maryville 865-983-1281 Sam McGhee and Karen Eastep, VBS co-directors

What is your Vacation Bible School theme?

“We’re doing ‘Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It’s very family-oriented as far as our congregation goes. The parents help out and the kids come and participate, but we want to do more for outreach. We do have lots of family who invite other families. It makes them more involved in advertising the event. Kids are encouraged to bring their friends.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“We started in March with our first meeting with me and the co-director Karen Eastep, and we’ve been working on it ever since. We build up speed as we go, and we get more people as we go.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“It is a prepared curriculum. I work with K-12 at the church. It’s from Group publishing, and I really like their curriculum. They do an excellent job with what they do. The other thing that drew me was I like VBS that focuses on one character or particular story or book instead of jumping all through the Bible. The kids will learn a lot about Joseph instead of all these different stories. They are just about him, and they learn a lot about him, and that is pretty cool.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“We spend roughly around $700 out of the church budget, and there’s a lot of donations, and we do lot of fundraising to offset the cost to make it really good. There is a lot that goes into it, and I’m sure the costs goes over $1,000 because we do dinner every night. It is all worth it in the end. The man-hours are unbelievable, besides what I put in. There are people who decorate and volunteer to work in every class and prepare, and they are there early and there late every night.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

“We normally run about 50 kids, and it takes 35 to 40 adults.”

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“There are usually about 50 children who attend the VBS.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“They love the music. The kids always, always, always love the music and get so excited. One of their favorite things is seeing people they know from church dressed up and being in character. This year, a guy is going to be Joseph. One year the senior minister and I were pirates with eye patches and tattoos. It was fun for them to see us in a different atmosphere. It helps them to learn when they see us like that.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“A couple years ago we did a pirate theme for Vacation Bible School, and we had a gentleman in the congregation who was a former army ranger and part of one of their competitions to complete their training was to make a homemade cannon. He brought it as part of decorations for the stage. I told the kids if we sacrificed so much for missions, we would set it off. We dropped in some fireworks and a black balloon, and it fired the balloon out in a ball of black smoke. It blew the balloon out the cannon barrel. I looked up, and there was a big hole in the roof.”

•OAK STREET BAPTIST CHURCH

218 Oakdale Street Maryville, TN 37801 865-984-5070 Co-Coordinators: Brenda Farner and David Kirkland

What is your vacation bible school theme?

“Saddle Ridge Ranch.”

What is your church’s approach to Vacation Bible School? Is it outreach in the community or is it a fellowship time for church members?

“It is an outreach. We typically on Wednesday night may have 30 kids at church, but, for Bible school, we’ll register and run probably about 140 kids. We pull from the community and other areas. A lot of them bring friends, and we try to do something to encourage them to bring their friends.”

When do you start preparing for Vacation Bible School?

“I get my kit in December as soon as LifeWay releases it. LifeWay has a Vacation Bible School conference at Ridgecrest Baptist the second week in January. The classes have people from all over the United States.”

Do you use a prepared curriculum and if so, how do you choose it?

“We’ve used LifeWay for the past four years. I really like it because there are a tremendous amount of resources. You also have the conference at Ridgecrest to go to. A lot of other churches use it and each one brings something different to their Bible school and make it their own. The material is well-written, easy to understand, and everything ties together.”

What is the financial investment of the church in Vacation Bible School?

“We have so many things that are donated from our church members. The total investment I have in my budget, and I don’t usually go over it, is about $3,000, but we have a lot of stuff donated from church members. We try to do hot dogs, pizza or something substantially more because so many people come from work and are hungry. Our two biggest expenses are curriculum and food.”

How many people does it take to run your Vacation Bible School?

Usually about 40. We have lot of adults who donate time and energy toward this, and they’re always so tired at the end of the week, but it is a good tired.

What do you anticipate attendance to be this year?

“The first year I was Bible school director, I set a goal of 250 but the Lord gives you what you can handle, and we knew we couldn’t. We had 140. This year the number 175 has been in my head so we’ll see.”

What do you think the children enjoy most?

“A lot of children like to come and see their friends, but it is different things. A lot enjoy the crafts, missions and Bible study. We have some really, really good teachers who devote time and preparation to make it fun and interesting, and I think they enjoy the whole thing.”

What’s the most elaborate or difficult thing you tried to pull off for your Vacation Bible School and was it successful?

“I guess one thing kids enjoyed a few years ago was when we did a mission offering. We typically have done it as a competition class-against-class. That year we did boys against girls. If girls collected the most, David got pie in the face, and if the boys collected the most, I got pie. It was supposed to be Cool Whip. I got the pie in the face, and it was a cream pie. For days everything smelled like cream pie. That was fun for the kids and David. I don’t think I’ve eaten any cream pie since then.”

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