"Good music is important because it's enriching for the soul and
it breaks all kinds of barriers," says Dan Haertl, a Christian
education director in Minneapolis. "It doesn't matter if you're
black or white, rich or poor. Music cleanses the soul. And kids
like to sing."
Add take-home music tapes to a curriculum and you have a winner
year-round, according to Vicky Bertrand, a parent in Bakersfield,
California. "Kids can take the tapes home and teach their families
and neighbors the songs and hand-motions," Vicky says. "The songs
become so familiar that kids can play a tape years later and it
brings back the whole vacation Bible school."
Great Crafts-Kids of all ages agree that crafts are
crucial to the success of a VBS. Eleven-year-old Haley Maxon of
Chamberlain, South Dakota, is emphatic that VBS should have good
crafts. "One time when we learned about Jonah," Haley remembers,
"we drew boats and whales on fabric and sewed them together. It's
hanging in our church."
When we asked 11-year-old Teagen Andrews of Sandy, Oregon, what
she likes best about VBS, she said, "I like the crafts they do.
Once we made a sand ball. We put sand in a clear plastic ball. Then
we put in shells, a coin, and stuff. When you turned it, you could
see the different things come up."
"Children enjoy doing different crafts," says Jackie Cookenour,
the mother of a 7-year-old daughter in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"They have a lot they can take home at the end. We always have
children do one major group project that we then give to the
church, often something that has all the children's names on
Committed Staff-Curriculum issues aside, many people
said that it's the volunteers who are most important. "What makes a
good vacation Bible school is good and dedicated teachers and the
prayer and preparation that go into it," says JoEllen Axthelm, from
Kirksville, Missouri. "You can have a wonderful curriculum, but if
you don't have good people, it doesn't matter."
Nine-year-old Rochelle Claggett of Largo, Maryland, says the
teachers are what makes a good VBS. Rochelle says, "We have good
teachers that help you when you have a question. You can stay there
Eleven-year-old Frankie Womack from San Diego, California, gives
that a big amen. "The teachers are nice and you learn a lot of
stuff," Frankie says.
"I think [the success of VBS] has a lot to do with the spirit and
enthusiasm of the staff," affirms Emily Fairbanks, a parent in
Arlington, Texas. "If they feel it's a vital ministry and they're
excited about what the Lord's going to do with it-that makes all
Lasting Impact-Mary M. Burman, a director of Christian
education in Laramie, Wyoming, believes that every vacation Bible
school should lead kids to be doers of the Word. "The Bible stories
need to have life application for kids and use very active lessons
that the kids can be involved in," Mary says.
Lydia Ruffin, whose 8-year-old son attends VBS in Mobile,
Alabama, thinks evangelism should be the goal of any VBS. "The most
important thing is that we present the plan of salvation," Lydia
says. "For so many people, VBS is the only way they're
While the fun aspects of VBS are critical, Nalini Nallo, a
parent in Queens Village, New York, encourages VBS directors to do
more than just entertain kids. "Kids need to have fun while they're
learning," Nalini says. "It shouldn't be boring, but we should
incorporate the Word of God in a stronger way-not just teach them
that God is love or about God's creation, but challenge them to
read more, memorize more...The emphasis seems to be more toward fun
and not toward the Word. Children should have a stronger sense of
what the focus is. The bottom line is that they need to know the
Lord. We need to pray for wisdom on how to do it."™