"Festive Festival Festivities"

Our Vacation Bible School runs for five different days…the Children’s Church leader, Mr. Kenny, starts off the event during his lesson to the kids on Sunday morning and then our “real” VBS begins on Monday evening.

We run our VBS like a lot of other places do. We begin with an Opening Assembly led by our oh-so-energetic Mr. Kenny and then the K – 6th grade kids rotate through four different sessions: Bible Story, Games/Snack, Crafts and then Music. We have separate nursery and preschool programs set up for the children of the VBS workers. After the rotations are finished (and the Music Leader is completely sick of the Hawaiian themed music and the Craft Leader is cleaning up 1,000 tiny pieces of paper off of her floor) Mr. Kenny begins the Closing Assembly to end out the evening.

We actually give out very few prizes at all during out entire VBS program, because…the kids have learned that tickets are much, much, much better than any silly prize that we could give them. This is because they know that any tickets that they earn throughout the week can then be used at our Friday Evening Festival which is jam-packed full of ways for them to use them up…

As the director, I have learned that our Festival is literally as much work as planning the week-long Vacation Bible School program…it’s like having two VBS programs to plan at the same time. And the set-up work is absolutely overwhelming and exhausting…but, then we get to Friday evening and you see how much fun the little buggers are having and you just have to love it…even though you know you have still are going to have to stay at the church to clean up until the wee hours of the morning after everyone heads on home.

The kids know they need to arrive at the church by 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening because we have two conditions for them to attend the Festival:

1) they need to try their best to be at the Closing Ceremony (when they sing their songs for their parents, receive their prizes for those who brought the most visitors and then listen to a short salvation message) and

2) they have to bring a responsible adult with them (I had nightmares about 100+ kids being dropped off for the event and then parents not showing up again until 9:00 p.m. so that’s why that rule was made.)

The Closing Ceremony isn’t a hardship for the munchkins though because they love singing those Hawaiian songs!

But we know and they know that as soon as Mr. Kenny gives them the go-ahead it’s “Hawaiian Luau” Festival time! And that’s where they really want to be…so off they go!

Here’s a brief rundown on what we have to get set-up on Friday before the kids arrive at 6:00 p.m.:

1) Food tables – we have free hot dogs, chips and lemonade for everyone who attends.

2) Cotton Candy, Sno-Cone and Popcorn machines – the kids can use their tickets to “buy” these items (and the adults get them for free.)

3) Prize Booths – we ask everyone at our church all year long to donate any unwanted toys they have to the church; we then use all of these toys to set up two massive Prize Booth areas (about 8 tables worth of toys)

4) Game Booths – I always have my eyes open, all year long, looking for nice, carnival-type games for the kids to have fun with throughout the evening…this year we had 13 different game booths set up.

5) Face Painting – just wait until you see my next post about the face painting ladies….wowwee! They are incredible.

6) Bouncy Room – this has to be collected from the rental company and set up before the fun begins…the kids absolutely love it!

7) Pony Rides – we have an incredibly kind family at our church that brings a pony to our Festival and then each child has the chance to take one pony ride.

8) A Dunking Boo
th! This is the first year we were able to obtain one and it was a massive hit (literally and figuratively.)
The teens in our church were the main Dunking Booth victims…oops! I mean, helpers.
But Mr. Kenny was the one that the kiddos really wanted to send into the water. I’ll be doing an animated post of one of his many dunkings real soon…it’s too bad you won’t be able to hear the trash-talking he threw at the kids though. He kept this station an absolutely, out-of-your-head, hysterically funny place to be for the evening.
See these little cuties here? Don’t be fooled by their sweet, innocent faces! The reason they are looking so happy to be standing in line is because it will soon be their turn to dunk poor Mr. Kenny again. Oh the joy…
Our church is a small church in a fairly small community ~ we average about 100-125 people on a Sunday morning with approximately 25 children in Children’s Church each week. It was a thrill to have 115 different children spend their time with us at VBS last week. With that many kids, we can easily expect between 300-400 people to attend our Friday Night Festival.

The best part for me is that the entire VBS program and VBS Festival is funded by a budget that the church designates just for that purpose and by private donations that individuals in our church like to donate. Many parents of the VBS kids ask us “How much do you want us to pay for coming to this?” and our answer is always “Absolutely nothing!” We keep it completely free so that they will know that we are doing this for them…it’s been a wonderful way for us to reach out to our community and show the love of Christ at the same time.