By Brittany S. Smith July 29, 2014
More than 300 children and 130 volunteers participated in Fort Benning's annual Vacation Bible School July 21-25 at the Main Post Chapel.
This year's event was nearly 50 percent larger than last year and is the largest ecumenical function on post, said Frank Doerr, director of religious education at the chapel.
"This is an opportunity to encourage our children in the goodness of who God is specifically and his son Jesus Christ," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeff Dillard, deputy garrison chaplain for religious support. "(By the children) learning songs, lessons, games, crafts and enjoying fun activities, they see that God is good and these are some of the ways he displays that goodness."
Each day began with singing and an introduction of the daily characters and themes, which consisted of a Bible point, story and verse that incorporated into the overall theme "Weird Animals," said Lauren Dillard, VBS director and volunteer.
"Because it is weird animals, it talks about our uniqueness in God," she said.
Activity stations included crafts, drama, a video and games that re-emphasized the theme of the day.
Lt. Col. Dillard said each station lasted about 20 minutes and dealt with issues of esteem and hardship.
The daily videos showed a child in a unique situation, which gave the VBS children an opportunity to identify with them, Lauren Dillard said.
One craft station involved the spinning of rubber balls, tops and eggs and at the another craft station the children made people paws out of plastic gloves, popcorn and candy, which embodied the daily theme, "Even when you don't understand, Jesus loves you."
"The top starts spinning on one side and by itself it revolves around to the other side and there is no explanation for it, so even if we don't understand what's going on around us, Jesus still loves us," Lauren Dillard said.
Volunteer Ashlyn Heinle said the people paws had gummy fruits at the tips of them to remind the children to be sweet with their actions.
"Even when you don't understand, do unto others as you would like done unto you," she said.
Volunteer Peggy Stanley said one game, which represented the same theme, involved children being blindfolded to find a bucket with candy, while the audience quacked and mooed to indicate if they were close or far away.
"There is mass confusion and they don't know which voice to really listen to," she said.
Sixth-grader Sarah Chester said she enjoyed the drama station, "One of a kind Bible adventure," the most.
"I like how they do the live role play," she said.
Doerr said having fun is an important element.
"You can't underestimate the fun aspect," he said. "When the kids are having fun, they are open and learning."
Lt. Col. Dillard said he hopes the experience will aid and have a trickle-down effect among Families and help build more intimate relationships within the community.
"If the Families are well, Soldiers can do their jobs better, so it's a win-win for everybody," he said.