In May, we talked with Melissa in preparation for this year’s “Get Hooked on Jesus” themed Vacation Bible School (VBS).
Now June has come and gone and it’s time to take a look at what memories the K-6 attendees “reeled in” during the weeklong event. To tell us more about the week, Katie O’Connor shared her experiences and excitement as a first-year volunteer.
Q: To start off our interview, can you tell us how long you’ve been attending Northwood?
A: I’ve been attending Northwood for two years, although [I spent] the last 10 months with a disaster relief ministry in Louisiana and will be going back indefinitely this August.
Q: Is this your first year volunteering for VBS?
A: Yes, this was my first year volunteering for VBS at Northwood.
Q: In talking with the Interim Children’s Ministry Director, Debbie Shireman, she mentioned that you were a “disciple” at VBS; is that the volunteers’ official title during the week?
A: Yes, I was a disciple lead, which was the title given to those of us who were teachers over a group of kids and made sure to lead them to their respective activities: snacks, recreation, crafts, worship (with everyone), and Bible time.
Q: You led a 3rd-4th grade group of kids this year. Can you tell us what that was like?
A: It was exciting that first day getting my name tag and my materials: a clip board with the list of each day’s schedule, the Bible story lessons plans with questions, and the list of the kids’ names that would be with me. Each day we were on a rotation, beginning in worship with all the groups, and then going to snacks, games, or crafts. At the end of each day we had a Bible lesson. The worship was especially fun, in my opinion, because we got to learn hand motions to go along with the song’s lyrics. I still remember most of them.
The most fun [thing] though, I think, was getting to meet and know each of the kids and their totally distinct God-given personalities. It’s amazing to me how different each person is. I love trying to “get” them, figure out what makes them tick, what they’ll end up doing when they grow up, what kind of adult they’ll grow up into. I had just four kids to guide and teach (along with a very helpful youth helper); yet they were so interesting to listen to and get to know.
Q: Was there any one moment or experience with any of the kids in your group that stands out to you in particular?
A: The first day at VBS, during snack time, I got to really listen to the kids and get to know them. Cameron had been very hyper and super funny and energetic, but I wasn’t sure how engaged he was in it all. When we started munching on goldfish and sun chips, he started talking about math problems and quizzing everybody!
It was not only hilarious (as most of us, even the adults!, had no idea what the answers were) but also impressive. During the Bible lesson and as the program went on, I could see [that] not only he, but all the kids, were paying attention despite what their actions may have been saying.
Q: How did your group of kids react to VBS this year?
A: To be honest, the boys didn’t really want to get into the worship songs and hand motions like the girls seemed to. The boys seemed to think they were too cool for all that. And at Bible lesson time, there was some impatience to be done. At snack time, recreation, and even crafts, though, my whole group was engaged and enjoying it. Even the boys liked making beaded necklaces and sticker aquariums!
Q: Was there a difference in reaction from kids in different grade groups?
A: I didn’t pay close attention to the other groups to be able to mention how they reacted to VBS. In general though, from what I could gather, as a whole everyone seemed to be having fun and was glad to be there. It was a fun time.
Q: Did the kids have a favorite part of VBS?
A: Ah! To be honest I didn’t ask them and they didn’t volunteer their favorite, but if I had to guess I’d say a combination of snacks, games, and crafts. Let’s go with crafts!
Q: Do you know how many kids accepted Christ as a result of VBS this year?
A: Six kids accepted Jesus. Each kid in my group said they already knew Him as their savior.
Q: We heard that there was a day when the weather threatened your park location, can you tell us about that experience and what all of you did because of it?
A: The third day it rained. It was kind of chilly and windy, too, but everyone had a smile on and we cozied up underneath the protection of Weaver Lake Park’s small gazebo roof. Somehow all of us (48 kids and volunteers) fit together and made it work. We modified the day’s schedule; instead of having each group break out and do separate activities at different times, we had two main groups. While one group worked on a craft, the other played games, like ‘7 Up.’ We did end the day an hour early, but it was successful.
The gal from C.R.O.S.S. also came and spoke [about] what they do there and shared some stories of people who have been blessed from food we donate. The kids got to talk about the pictures they drew depicting things that C.R.O.S.S does, like delivering meals to elderly or giving presents to kids at Christmas-time. The drawings will go into a contest to be hung up at C.R.O.S.S.
We concluded the day with worship songs. Two girls were upfront singing and leading us in the hand motions, and Luke [Northwood’s Youth Pastor] grabbed a cardboard box and started drumming on it. I guess you could say the day was magical.
Q: Is there anything about this year’s VBS that you’d like to share with us?
A: I would like to say that VBS was great. Everyone was essential and had an impact on the Kingdom, in some way or another I’m sure.
I want to highlight someone in particular, and that is Luke. He has a special gift for teaching and such an enthusiasm that gets kids glued to him. He used whatever object he had within his immediate proximity to add to his already much-more-than-mediocre presentation. Everyone will never forget when he leaped up onto the rafter of the gazebo when he was pretending to be Zaccheus looking out over the crowd to spot Jesus.
And I’m sure everyone remembers, too, how he asked Alden to play Jesus sleeping on the boat while the storm grew fierce and the disciples freaked out. Luke told Alden to keep sleeping as Luke picked him up and tossed him around, catching him in the air (as we all watched and giggled), illustrating for all of us what it must have been like to see Jesus sleeping soundly on a cushion while the ship rocked to and fro.
Northwood would like to thank Katie, as well as all of the staff and volunteers that helped make this year’s VBS not only possible, but also special and exciting for the kids. Thank you!