Friday, July 22, 2005

It's a Jungle Out There

My kids are attending their third VBS of the summer. (Occupational hazzard for PK's, perhaps.) Our church did Around the World in Five Days in which three of the five countries involved exotic animals and terrain. At summer conference, they focused on the Creation story which also involved much reference to the animal kingdom. And this week they are attending a friends' church that is doing A Prayer Safari.

Yesterday as we were driving home from the pool, my five year old daughter piped up, "Mommy? Why is Vacation Bible School always about the jungle?"

Why indeed? Is it just barely possible that we have gone over the top with curricular themes, especially for VBS? Do kids remember the God stuff, or this year's gimmick? Would it be so outrageous to say, this year's VBS theme is The Parables of Christ, and leave it at that? No jungle backdrop, no bible-totin' cokepokes, no talking tomatoes? Are we afraid the bible isn't exciting enough all on it's own? Seems to me with giants, angels, parting seas, multiplying bread, and tongues of fire our own material is pretty good without dragging in cheap special effects. I don't want to offend any curriculum writers out there, but what's up with the jungle?

8 comments:

Quotidian Grace said...

Preach it, sister! The last three VBSes we did had jungle themes, one way or the other. The VBS teachers tell me that they like using that theme because the children really relate to the animals. Why is that? These animals are seen around here only in the zoo or as cartoons. Is it because of the Lion King movie?

This year we did "Kingdom of the Son: A Prayer Safari". There were several children attending whose mothers told me their kids just did the same program at a neighboring church! Personally, I wouldn't do that to my girls. It's not that great!

I loved the Marketplace curriculum that tries to teach about everyday life during Bible times. But it is too volunteer/labor intensive for my church right now. Alas!

Emily said...

I did a 5 session thing on the services of Holy Week during Lent a few years ago, plenty of interactivity, and no jungle in sight! last week, at the Royal School of Church Music course, I let the story of David and Saul speak for itself (well, I did have to censor it SOME).

Of course, the jungle is not an entirely inappropriate metaphor for the Christian life at times. . .

Songbird said...

VBS is not a big thing in Maine, but at every church that has one, I seem to see the same poster outside for Kingdom of the Son. Who is he? George of the Jungle?
I grew up in the Vacation Bible Belt, so I miss it. But unless you offer something all day, there just isn't the audience in this world of working families, or at least that is what we found at Big Church when I was involved with C.E. there. The sad thing was that the ministers were not at all supportive of having one, even when the Director of Faith Education had great ideas, devising her own curriculum. She's now gotten out of church work, per so, and is running an arts and crafts school out of the basement of Small Church! Maybe I could hire her to run a really fab VBS next summer...hmmm...

jo(e) said...

When my kids were little, vacation bible school always had the desert theme. I can remember dressing them up in sheets so they would look authentic. Since this was in the middle of the summer, it made a lot of sense.

Purechristianithink said...

At the end of this week's VBS the director announced, "We hope you'll come again next summer when our theme will be: Son Treasure Island--A Caribbean Adventure!" Oy. Maybe they'll serve Pina Coladas???

Songbird said...

Ew, that makes me a little sick.
(But I bet the pineapple kabob snacks will be delicious...)

Songbird said...

By the way, there's still something wrong with your code for the WebRing. I'll have Ringsurf e-mail it to you again. Some of the functions work, but others do not.

Susie said...

Hey there - nice to "meet" you through the ring! The church I've just started at does VBS - and it falls into my job description. I've never done "vbs" per se, but I worked at church camp (which had overnight and day camp programs) for years. I've been thinking about doing our own curriculum next year - the one we used this year struck me as awfully... well... "America is AWESOME, and oh yeah, we like Jesus too". Not my thing at all - and I think the teachers weren't thrilled with it either. I'd love to hear where people get their programs, and more about what people have done that they liked!