Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hosting the Camp Counselors for VBS

A few weeks ago, I was struck by the idea that for the first time in years, I wouldn't be helping out with VBS.  This week, it's occurred to me that I am helping, and it may end up being just as labor intensive, although it will be very different.

This year, many fewer of us will actually be helping with VBS itself, in terms of being on site and working with groups of children.  This year, a group of camp counselors from Luther Springs will be running our VBS.  We will have VBS in the day, not in the evenings.  We will have a much smaller group of kids.  It's both strange and a relief.

We have often had more neighborhood kids than children from our own church; we just don't have that many children as part of our church family.  Is VBS a valid ministry, worth the money and time we devote to it?  I know about the studies that show that one common denominator in adults who attend church are that they attended VBS or church camp.  I suspect that those adults were also going to church as children.  I don't know the stats for children who only attend VBS or church camp.

Of course, we're not putting together a VBS week just to have church members in 20 years.  Why are we doing it?   For a variety of reasons:  because we always have, because we feel it's important to these kids at this time, because we've had fun doing it, because we have a core group of people who are public school teachers and thus they have time in the summer.  If that core group didn't exist, those of us with full-time jobs in the summer literally would not have time--or we'd have a very streamlined VBS, with fewer decorations and other elements.

This year, we have camp counselors coming, something we've never done.  We have an empty cottage, so 3 of them will stay here.  I will provide dinner two nights this week.  I'll provide some transportation.  I've already done a lot of shopping and prep work.  I will do some cleaning this afternoon.  I've done laundry so that they will have sheets and towels, and then I will do laundry after they leave.  It will probably end up being the same amount of work as past years, when I've led the arts and crafts--but it feels very different.

My cottage is a historic structure, and it has some quirks.  I am hopeful that they'll be delighted with the lodging--but I'm worried that its flaws will detract from their experience.  Of course, for the most part, they'll just be there to sleep.  Let me also remember that people who are expecting resort-like accommodations don't usually sign up for a summer as camp counselor.

Likewise, I hope they like the meals I've planned.  I put a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly in the cottage, along with breakfast foods.  They won't starve.

I think I'm also feeling some anxiousness because we haven't done this before, so I'm not sure what to expect.  The schedule is still a bit loose.  So I'm preparing meals that can sit for awhile. I'm telling myself that all will be well.  And it will.

I also want to remember something one of my VBS planner friends said to me when we had lunch on Friday.  She said that hosting the camp counselors is like hosting missionaries.  It was only later that I reflected how many people I know who worked at church camp who have gone on to work in the Church.  Perhaps these experiences will not only be formational not only for the children who come to VBS, but also for these counselors.

No comments: