Monday, July 2, 2012

In Praise of VBS Helpers

I spent much of last week at Vacation Bible School as the Arts and Crafts Director.  I spent several weeks before that buying supplies.  But I couldn't have done it without the helpers.

I had a fair amount of help from the teenagers who had gotten too old for VBS (rising 7th graders can help, but there are no classes for them).  Why would they want to help?  There are many reasons, but most of the teenage helpers grew up in VBS, and they're not ready to leave.  Some of them are helping because they need community service hours.  Some of them are helping because their moms are part of VBS. 

They did the best when the kids needed them.  During periods when the kids were being self-directed, the teenagers got easily distracted.  Some nights, they did the craft, and everything was peaceful.  Other nights, they picked on each other.  They were encouraging to the children, but to each other, they were judgmental, and often in verbally brutal ways.  One night, I threatened to banish them all.  They weren't modeling good behavior.  Children internalize negativity, even if it's not directed at them.  I don't want that in the arts and crafts room.

Still, it was helpful to have them along, even when they were disruptive.  Some of the classes needed lots of attention.  We had lots of children in the kindergarten and first grade class, and they're not the most physically agile yet.  The teenagers rose to the occasion.

My spouse was also tremendously helpful.  Most of the VBS staff works in the public school system, so they're off for the summer.  They had time to get organized during the day.  I did not.

Happily, my spouse has more time than I do.  He did things like assembling old shirts for smocks.  I arrived home from work, and he had everything ready to go--which was good, because we ate a quick dinner and then headed over to the church.

He also helped on nights when he wasn't leading drumming sessions.  He was remarkably patient.  But more than that, he anticipated problems before they arose and helped develop solutions.  I felt really lucky to have him along.

I'm amazed at how many people it takes to put together a VBS program.  I feel lucky to be part of a church where we have so many people who are willing to be part of the VBS team.

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