Did you grow up with Vacation Bible School (aka VBS or Indoctrinating Summer Day Care for those who get on the VBS Summer circuit)? I didn't. I just had indoctrinating Christian Education for most of my impressionable elementary, middle, and high school years, but no VBS. (I think I turned out okay, but I'm probably not the one to ask since self-examination is never unbiased.)
VBS is a big deal, and I don't think it's just our church. Even Oriental Trading Company recognizes the profitability of the VBS market. Who doesn't want to buy cute Egyptian puffy stickers, or craft foam Egyptian collars and headbands? I bet the really cool churches even have the beaded head dresses for all their volunteers, not just one that gets passed around, like the offering plate. (I want to know who leaked the theme to Oriental Trading before the churches even found out?)
After one bad VBS experience as a volunteer I avoided VBS like that "friend" you kept putting off calling back because you are really hate making phone calls and are now embarrassed to see her. You have to have a good excuse, if you are going to be open about NOT volunteering for VBS. I didn't figure they really needed me because VBS is that one time of year that all of the volunteers pushed themselves out of the padded pews (okay we finally got padded chairs a few years ago) to do their annual feel good dose of working with the kids. (Not sure what these 100+ volunteers are doing the rest of the year when they are looking for a Sunday School teacher to fill in for the regular one who is down with a cold that she doesn't want to give to her dozen little short people because their parents will be angry when they come home from Sunday School again with a cold.)
Last year I got guilted (I know that's not a real word, but it should be because guilt happens) into doing it. I had no good excuse when I got the call Monday afternoon of VBS. They would take my two kids that were too young for VBS in the nursery and my preschooler could join me in assisting in the Preschool (which had been slammed with more than fifty kids). How do you say no to desperation, especially when you used to be the one who had to find volunteers for the children's ministries (though not VBS)?
My second experience with VBS didn't end up being good either. I do not enjoy herding cats. We herded little kids from one stop on the rotation to the next for nearly three hours. Pretty sure we weren't doing a whole lot of indoctrinating, just a lot of exhausting baby-sitting because as a 35 year old I wasn't sure what the Biblical point each day was.
I am sure you know by now that I am prone to complain and find fault. (Isn't admitting you have a problem the first step in recovery?) So I decided to step up and be apart of a solution. They really just needed to start planning the preschool curriculum sooner than the week before VBS. That's how I got myself on the Preschool Team this year. We started planning process in January. To say there has been a lot of build up to this week would be a gross understatement. I have been thinking about this week for far too long. It's finally here, and in fact almost gone already.
There are three classrooms of kids. I have the youngest kids, which means mostly three year olds, with a few four year olds. When I say three, I mean just three, my youngest participant turned three Tuesday, yes, you read that right, this Tuesday. To be fair, Mommy kept her home Monday, when she was still just two. This little three year old is fully potty trained, where my little cherub, who is a little more than a month away from four still is too otherwise occupied to be bothered with going potty on the potty. (Sorry for the bunny trail.) I have the smallest group, topping out at just nine. One of the teachers in the other class was thinking how great I had it (they have fifteen), I resisted the urge to remind her that we get to do a lot more "helping" with potty than they do. (I resisted because my mom has been helping me and has faithfully taken the daily "potty" duty without a complaint!)
Today I took my camera. There is something about looking at kids through a lens makes everything fall into place for me. I think it's because I really pause and look at them. The smiles. The grins. The giggles. The following of the hand motions when their singing. The new friendships. The making church a safe, fun place so that they want to keep coming back, understanding a little more each time.
VBS is a big deal. My nine kids are a very big deal to me.