CAMP ZAMA, Japan (August 13, 2014) -- About 105 Camp Zama youth members participated in the "SonQuest Rainforest Vacation Bible School" held Aug. 4 through Aug. 8 at the Camp Zama Religious Education Center and Commuity Activity Center on the installation, here.
VBS is an annual community program supported by the Army Religious Support Offices, the Chapel communities and the U.S. Army Japan and U.S. Army Garrison Japan command groups.
"We are a smaller garrison, so it is really important for community members to come together and support programs within the RSO and other directorates," said James D. Corneliussen, the director for the Camp Zama Religious Education department.
Programs like VBS help develop and foster faith and commitments to God said Corneliussen.
Nearly 35 community volunteers helped run and organize the several stations to include bible learning, stories, music, crafts, games and snacks that the children or "campers" rotated through, throughout the day.
Cole Dermanoski, 10 and a VBS camper, said the volunteers were "really nice."
"They helped me learn bible verses and (biblical) stories," said Dermanoski.
"The people here are so nice and they always make me feel welcomed," said Luke Westhoff, 10 and a VBS camper.
Corneliussen said the overall theme for this year's VBS camp was to teach the campers about "reliance on their faith to strengthen them, to help get them through tough times."
Sonya Auston, a VBS volunteer, said she was able to meet the children in the community that she would not normally see.
"I was able to build a quick report with them and help them learn God's word."
Some of the campers are new to the community, Auston said, and now they can see a friendly face when they are out, walking around the installation.
"It is a great opportunity to get them plugged in (to the community)."
Auston said during the weeklong camp, the campers were learning that they can go to their faith for anything, and at anytime.
"If they are being bullied, discouraged or facing problems, there is always someone available that can help them at anytime, anywhere," said Auston.
The VBS camp had participants from pre-kindergarten to sixth graders.
Austin Cuviello, 12 and a VBS volunteer, participated in the VBS camps in the previous years, but this year was among the volunteers to help run and organize the camp.
"It was nice to help the (other) kids out," said Cuviello.
The kids have been "over-the-top" excited to attend VBS, said Auston, and have participated in all of the challenges such as "backwards day", "crazy sock day", "crazy hair day" and "bring a friend day" to name a few.
Westhoff said his favorite part of VBS was the crafts, the games and the skits.
"You get to make cools stuff (in crafts)," said Westhoff.
"I had a great time with my friends and want to come back next year."