RALEIGH — When an expected 300 kids arrive at Trinity Baptist Churchs gym later this month, it will be like stepping into an ancient marketplace, with tents, spices, music and costumes for everyone.
Kids across the Triangle soon will be entering similar scenes. Its the time of year for vacation Bible school, a Christian tradition that got its start in 1898 when Walker Aylette Hawes started a summer Bible school for children in New York Citys slums.
Today, countless churches gear up around June and July for a few days of intense summer fun for kids, including songs, skits, games and crafts. Then theres the school part: Bible stories, lessons and verses to memorize.
Its a concentrated study of the Bible, of theological concepts, said Karen Eickhoff, a staff member at Trinity Baptist who is helping coordinate the week.
Churches host anywhere from 50 to 300 kids for about a week. Most of them prepare for months, and many charge nothing.
The vacation Bible school at Trinity Baptist Church that begins June 15 will be the culmination of months of work by close to 75 volunteers.
We have been preparing for it for a good while, probably since February, said Carla Babb, a staff member who is also helping coordinate the event. Organizers see the work as worth it.
Both fun and work
Vacation Bible school is fun. And vacation Bible school is a lot of work, Eickhoff said. Our hope is it is not something we go through every year just as a program to do, but that it really ministers to the children and the people who are involved in it.
This years theme at Trinity Baptist is Wilderness Escape. Over the course of five days, the kids will learn the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt. Each day will bring a new story of how Moses learned to trust God.
Every evening at 5:30 when the kids arrive, theyll be ushered into the gym, where the backdrop will be decorated like a wilderness mountain desert scene, Eickhoff said. Theyll sit on rugs, sing songs, and hear from Moses, a volunteer robed, biblical-style. Each kid will get a sash to wear, color-coded for their tribe or age group.
So if anybody gets wandering off, we know where they go, Eickhoff said.
At the different tents in the marketplace, the children will have a chance to play with instruments such as tambourines and rain sticks. They can churn butter or grind spices, work at a giant loom or make baskets.
In their classrooms with their tribe leader, they will hear the Bible story again and have a chance to ask questions. I feel like a child needs to learn it in a smaller group with their teachers at an age-appropriate level, Eickhoff said.
The volunteers want to make sure its fun, but also a safe place to present Christianity.
We are giving the children an opportunity to ask questions and to experience the love of Christ through their teachers, Babb said. It is not only in presentation of the gospel, but in interacting with the leadership and the relationships they bond. My hope is that they feel so comfortable that they have an understanding of it.
Vacation Bible schools
All schools are free unless otherwise noted.
• June 9-13, Plymouth Church at 6104 Rock Service Station Road in Raleigh from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Children age 3 to fifth grade are welcome, and nursery is available for workers. The theme is Agency 3-D: Discover, Decide, Defend. The church will hold a kickoff celebration on Sunday, June 8, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.. For registration information, go to www.plymouthchurchonline.com or call 919-772-8370.
• June 15-19, Trinity Baptist Church at 4815 Six Forks Road in Raleigh. The week begins during Sunday school at 9:30 a.m., and will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. the rest of the week. Dinner will be available with reservations. Dinner is $4 for adults and $2 for children. Children ages 4 to eighth grade are welcome, and coffee and Bible study will be available for adults. The theme is Wilderness Escape and will highlight the story of Moses. For more information, go to www.tbcraleigh.com or call 919-787-3740.
• June 15-20, Salem Baptist Church at 1821 N. Salem St. in Apex. The morning school will run June 16-20 from 9 a.m. to noon, and the evening school will run June 15-19 from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. Children grades 6-12 are welcome. Only the evening school is still open. The theme is Son Treasure Island. For more information, go to www.salem-bc.org or call 919-362-7327.
• June 16-19, Watts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church at 3703 Tryon Road in Raleigh. A free dinner will be at 5:45 p.m., and classes run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. People of any age, including high school, college and adult, are welcome. The theme is The Real Story of Noah. The week will include Bible stories, live drama, games, songs and crafts. For registration information, go to www.wattschapel.org/vbs.
• June 16-20, Christ Church at 120 E. Edenton St. in Raleigh from 9 a.m. to noon. Children age 4 to fifth grade are welcome. The theme, The Tale of the Whale, will focus on the story of Jonah, with games, crafts and worship that reflects the message of the day. For information about registration, call the church at 919-834-6259 and ask for Sloane Brooks or go to www.christchurchraleigh.org.
• June 16-20, Summit Evangelical Covenant Church at 590 Westhigh St. in Cary from 8:45 a.m. to noon. Children from age 4 to fifth grade are welcome. There is no cost. The theme is Colossal Coaster World: Facing Fear and Trusting God, and activities will include music, crafts and games. To register, visit www.summitnc.org.
• June 16-20, St. Philips Episcopal Church at 403 E. Main St. in Raleigh from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dinner will be at 5:30 p.m. The theme is Pilgrimage: Seeking the Kingdom of God and take children on a journey through the Middle ages through games, crafts and bible stories. For information about registration, go to www.st-philips-durham-dionc.org.
• June 16-20, Friendship Baptist Church at 5510 Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Check-in begins at 8:40 a.m. on Monday. The theme is Kingdom Chronicles: Standing Strong in the Battle for Truth, and will incorporate Bible stories, games, crafts, puppets, snacks, skits and songs. On Sunday, June 22, the children will sing some of the songs at the 11 a.m. service. For registration information, call 919-876-0585 or go to www.fbcweb.net.
• June 16-20, Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church at 4900 Kaplan Drive in Raleigh from 9 a.m. to noon. Children from age 4 to fifth grade are welcome. There is no cost. The theme is Workshop of Wonders: Build and Imagine with God. For registration information, call Allisen Fischer at 919-455-6147 or go to www.wbpresbyterian.com.
• June 23-26, St. Michaels Episcopal Church at 1520 Canterbury Road in Raleigh from 9 a.m. to noon. A kickoff circus carnival will be on June 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The cost is $30 per child with a family cap of $75. Scholarships are available for volunteering. Contact Stella Attaway at firstname.lastname@example.org. For registration information, call 919-782-0731 or go to www.holymichael.org.
• June 23-27, Gethsemane Seventh Day Adventist Church at 2525 Sanderford Road in Raleigh from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Children 3 years through teens are welcome. The theme is Kingdom Chronicles: Standing Strong in the Battle for Truth. For registration information, call Penny Taylor at 919-817-8310 or go to www.gethsemanesdachurch.org.
• June 23-27, Raleigh Chinese Christian Church at 9266 Chapel Hill Road in Cary from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children 3 years through sixth grade are welcome. The cost is $95 for children K-6th grade and $15 for preschoolers. The theme is International Spy Academy: Agents for the One True God, and will feature Bible stories, crafts and sports. Friday will include a special meal and closing ceremony. For registration information, call 919-834-3815 or go to www.raleighccc.org.
• June 23-27, Highland United Methodist Church at 1901 Ridge Road in Raleigh from 9 a.m. to noon. Children age 3 to fifth grade are welcome. The theme is Workshop of Wonders: Imagine and Build with God, and will include songs, stories, crafts and games. For registration information, call 919-787-45240 or go to www.highlandumc.org.
• June 23-27, Burnell Baptist Church at 3720 Old School Road in Four Oaks from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 5:30, and the school will begin at 6:15 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, and there will be classes for adults. For information, call Jessie Brock at 919-894-1418 or go to www.events.triangle.com and search for Burnell Baptist Church.
• June 23-27, Christ the King Lutheran Church at 600 Walnut St. in Cary from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Children age 3 to fifth grade are welcome. The fee is $30 for the first child and $25 for each additional child, and includes a CD and a T-shirt. The theme is Gangway to Galilee: Amazing Grace Adventures. For registration information, contact Kari Moncrief at email@example.com, call 919-467-8989 or go to www.christthekingcary.org.
• June 30-July 3, Hillyer Memorial Christian Church at 718 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Children age 3 through fifth grade are welcome. The theme is Forecasting Life: Exploring God through the Seasons, and will include weather-themed Bible stories, skits, games and crafts. For registration information, call 919-832-7112 or go to www.hillyerchurch.org/vbs/.
• July 7-10, Soapstone United Methodist Church at 12837 Norwood Road in Raleigh. The morning school will be from 9:30 a.m. to noon, July 7-11. Children ages 3 through kindergarten are welcome, but 3-year-olds must be regular attenders of the church. The cost is $20 with a $45 limit per family. The evening school will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m., July 6-10. Children kindergarten through fifth grade are welcome. The cost is $6 with a $18 limit per family. The theme is Workshop of Wonders: Imagine and Build With God, and will include Bible stories, crafts and games. The children will be able to donate food, books and school supplies for Baileywick Road Elementary School, and assemble bags of essentials for the homeless. For registration information, go to www.soapstoneumc.org.
• July 21-25, Hocutt Baptist Church at 314 W. Horne St. in Clayton from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Children 4 years through fifth grade are welcome. The theme is Agency 3D: Discover, Decide, Defend. For registration information, call 919-553-6650 or go to www.hocuttbaptist.com.