Guest Post: A one-day light-filled VBS on PEI

This week we’re sharing a project from Rev. Barbara J. Cairns and the folks at Bedeque United Church on PEI! They recently hosted a one-day Vacation Bible School for their kids and shared the experience with us.

The Project: A one-day light-filled VBS

Bedeque United Church “did a half day VBS this year.” With the pandemic, “this is the first time that the children have been at church since March 2020.”

Barbara put together the material from a variety of sources, including The Go Project; Andrea Rogers, the Family and Youth Ministry Coordinator at West River United Church; and, to Jenny Vessey, the Youth and Sunday School Coordinator at York United Church, PEI.

She says, “The key aspect was that it was set up to encourage a process-oriented approach to faith formation. In that the activities were open ended, without a product as an end. Lots of room to wiggle and squiggle.” We love how she affirms that wiggling and squiggling is a big part of how God created children to worship!

When it comes to being COVID-conscious she shares that they “set up a cozy space on the floor to gather for worship,” (spaced out) and that “each child was given their own material that was prepared ahead of time with name tags.” Activities also took place in and out of doors, but it’s worth mention during this period of time the Atlantic provinces had much laxer health restrictions then provinces like Ontario.

Interested in the details? Check-out the activity schedule here!

What was the inspiration?

Barbara comments that she “wanted to focus on the aspect of faith formation in a play-based model for our young children. As the youngest was three and the oldest was nine.” As well as a desire to “explore God’s love and celebrate diversity.” Amen!

The focus for the day was based around an adaption of 1 John 4:7-16, “God is love”.

What did your children/families respond to best?

“The children and families were excited to be together again. They really enjoyed doing the art and outside water activity.”

Did you learn anything surprising or new?

I am always humbled by how the children love to engage spiritually and how they get the lessons so well. For example, we used sponges in our water activity to water the trees and one girl said it was good because they cared for God’s trees and the sponges can be used again.”

What part would you want to do again?

“I want to do this again on a monthly basis as a family faith activity called Family Church.”

What part would you leave out or do differently next time?

I would leave out the need to fill it with a lot of activity as the children really enjoyed going deeply with one or two activities. I had a lot of extra material prepared in case I needed it. But did not.”

Final thoughts from Barbara: VBS can be affordable!

This program used mostly recycled material. The cost was minimal for tea lights, sponges, bubbles and chalk. It can be done for under $20 per session. Our snack was donated.”

Well there you have it folks! Sometimes VBS doesn’t need to be fog-machines and purchased curriculum. Barbara shares how it was the time to connect and play that made this event a success for her community. And, we love hearing about the unspoken lessons they were teaching in Bedeque, like using recycled materials for activities and engaging with God’s creation in their play.

Hopefully this will inspire you, remembering that it isn’t the size or flashiness of your Family programming that makes it a success, but whether you’re embodying those heart-habits Jesus calls his followers to: care for others, care for creation, wonder at God’s creation, a love of God’s story.

Way to Go Barbara and all our friends at Bedeque UC! – Selina

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