Sunday, July 24, 2011

OK, I'm Back

The last couple of weeks were crazy busy as I tried to cram a month's worth of preparation for Vacation Bible School into, well, a LOT less than a month. Now VBS is almost over and I can heave a big sigh of relief and gratitude for another year.

The theme for our program was The Most Amazing Race, a world-travel experience that bore only coincidental similarity to a certain reality show. Much too coincidental for any copyright lawyers to be alarmed. Actually, given that I ran out of time, the resemblance was pretty sparse, but the idea was that our Christian life (compared to a race as per the Apostle Paul) is even more incredible than a race around the world.

The different VBS stations were decorated like different parts of the world, so the first order of preparation was to create some wild animals to populate the spaces. I started with insulating foam board, common at any building supply store. I found images on the internet to look at while I drew them on the board in much larger scale.

To cut the foam board, I heat a knife on the stove burner, then cut as far as I can before the knife cools. This creates a melted, smooth edge instead of foam crumbles all over. There are some downsides to this method, however. One is that the whole house fills up with the most atrocious fumes; I'm sure it's not healthy, and I probably should borrow someone's pet canary to have on hand when I do it! The other is that the knife gets coated with foam residue that has an alarming habit of bursting into flames at odd moments. This gave me quite a thrill at first, but it soon became so commonplace that I scarcely noticed.

Then it was time to paint my creatures. I gave each of them a base coat,then added detail with cans of spray paint. After the basics were blocked in with the spray paint, I added the finishing touches by hand with acrylic paint. Whew, done! Now on to the church.

I painted a couple extremely hasty murals the night before VBS, done on bed sheets from the thrift store. One was for Australia, and one for the jungles of South America. Or a South Sea Island. Or something. Take your pick. The front of the sanctuary was decorated as an African Savannah, the snack area was set in Asia, registration was set in a customs office, and Bible story time took place at an archeological dig in Egypt.

That came about in an accidental fashion. Late in the game I decided that since we were having the story of the Exodus and the subsequent journey to Canaan as our story, that I should make an Egyptian themed area for story time. Noni was the story teller, and she loves Egyptology--nothing could be more perfect. But I absolutely and completely ran out of time.

Noni and I brainstormed together and decided that we could tell the kids the first day that it was an archeological site and that we'd be making discoveries each night, so make sure to tune in tomorrow night to see what we'll find next, that sort of thing. Only problem, we didn't get anything done for the second night.

Creativity, driven by desperation and God's merciful promptings, had the answer once again. We were in the middle of an atrocious heat wave (as was most of the US) and it was meltingly hot in that westward facing room, so we decided to tell the kids that our air pump had quit working and it wasn't safe to be in the tomb that evening, but we'd have it fixed tomorrow.

The next night saw a hastily constructed cardboard "tomb door", painted while the song service was taking place, with the paint fumes still lingering for the first group, giving authenticity to the "unsafe air" pretending of the night before. The last night had the tomb walls, hurriedly hung with brown paper and sprayed with vague brick shapes only a half hour before the start of VBS. All the kids got to help put hieroglyphics on the tomb walls, and I'm sure that all of them enjoyed the ongoing transformation of the room. Some of them may even have thought it was done that way deliberately!

I have to include a shout-out to all the great help we had from the church family. Everyone was a real trooper and came faithfully each night. I'm especially proud of our 3 teen helpers---Tiggy was the group leader for the 4-6 year old group, Damon helped in games, general construction, and Bible story, and Laura was the game leader. They all did phenomenally well! (big round of applause)

Now for some photos of the VBS setting, which turned out nicely, if I do say so myself.

Now all I have to do is get ready for the children's booth at the county fair next weekend. The theme for that is the 7 days of Creation, so all my animals will be recycled back to the Garden of Eden for another go-round of use.

Maybe someday I will be so well organized that I can direct a VBS without having a room hidden away that looks like this!


  1. I'm really glad you get to use those beautiful animals again!

  2. Beautiful work Tina! Have you and Noni thought about compiling your VBS plans into a booklet and publishing it for other groups to use?