Since living in the South for the majority of the last 13 years, I have learned a lot about Southern culture. Summertime in the south includes sweet tea, endless talk about the upcoming college football season, and probably the greatest Southern summer tradition: VBS.
What is this vee bee ess, you ask? It’s three glorious letters that stand for Vacation Bible School.
When I first moved south, I will openly admit that the church culture was a bit overwhelming. While I grew up attending church, it wasn’t something that I openly discussed with strangers … and I very rarely participated in church activities that didn’t occur on Sunday mornings. Now that I’m fully immersed in Southern culture, church-based activities including VBS are a way of life for our family and something that we all really enjoy.
Several of my friends above the Mason-Dixon line had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned that I was sending my kids to VBS for a week. I know VBS happens across the U.S., but here in the South, it is one of the premier events of the summer for families! Don’t get me wrong, my kids are great, so great, but I love the “vacation” part of VBS — even if the vacation is just for a few hours!
Kids will learn about Jesus through play, live-action shows, stories, and more.
Beginning in May, signs begin popping up across every Southern city, in nearly every Southern church lawn, advertising their week-long, adventure-themed VBS offering. Children ages 3 to 12 are invited to attend VBS in the morning for about 3-4 hours where they participate in Bible-based teaching activities, Bible stories, games, and crafts. It’s a fun way to visually teach and reinforce lessons that kids might not have grasped otherwise. My kids’ favorite part of VBS was the daily show put on by the volunteers and the water balloon toss!
Everyone is welcome at VBS.
Churches open their doors to all kids in the community, whether they are active members of the church or have never attended any church before. Technically, a child could attend a different VBS every week for the entire summer! Many southern parents can’t wait for that first glorious summer when their children are finally old enough attend VBS, then they carefully plan their VBS route for the summer. For our family, I chose just one VBS outside of our own church where I sent the kids for a week in June. They had a blast and are still talking about it!
Vacation Bible School is FREE, or at least very inexpensive.
Sponsoring churches often accept donations, or sometimes charge a minimal fee for supplies to participating families. VBS is a cheaper option than most summer camps, but still gives the kids (and parents) something fun and structured to do during the summer.
Vacation Bible School is safe.
The first time I dropped off my children at their first Vacation Bible school, I was worried that they’d get lost or that it would be totally chaotic. With some churches hosting THOUSANDS of kids during their week of VBS, the church usually has a very organized drop-off and pick-up system and use local police officers for traffic control.
Volunteers Make VBS Successful.
Not only do church members volunteer, but once kids get too old to attend VBS themselves, they return as group leaders and helpers. These volunteers work tirelessly to create an experience for the kids that is not only lots of fun, but also helps teach them Biblical principles and about Jesus.
I’d love to know: what area of the country you live in, and do your kids attend VBS?
(photo credit: Flickr)
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