FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Children are invited to travel back to biblical times and immerse themselves in Daniel's journey during Fort Rucker's Vacation Bible School June 11-14 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. daily.

"VBS covers many of the stories of Daniel's life, including being taken into captivity as a youth and forced to live in a foreign land where he had to learn a new language and many new customs," Nancy Jankoski, Fort Rucker Religious Support Office director of religious education, said. "Daniel had to make choices several times in his life between following the rules in the new country or obeying what God said.

"Each time, the choices had consequences. And each time, Daniel made the right choice, even when it would lead to him being punished and sometimes placed in harm's way," she added.

Jankoski added that Daniel's story contains many lessons applicable to the meaningful decisions encountered in life.

"There are many life lessons children can learn from the story of Daniel, about standing up for what is right, knowing what you believe and why, and having the courage to work for the good of people who are different than you are, even when you may have been mistreated," she said. "Daniel never sought to do harm to the Babylonians who ruled over him. In fact, he did everything he could to seek their welfare as long as it didn't involve compromising his beliefs. Certainly in our day, the idea that you must treat everyone with dignity and respect and do your best when life's circumstances aren't what you wanted or expected is an important lesson for all."

According to Jankoski, the Spiritual Life Center will be home to 12 classes designed to help students feel a sense of togetherness and community.

"Classes are called tribes, based on the 12 tribes of Israel," she said. "In the daily homeroom time that students will start with each day, they will learn something about that specific tribe, but they will also explore their own feelings about times when things are uncertain in life -- how do you handle it? Our military students are very familiar with making moves and sometimes those moves are to foreign nations. So they can relate to Daniel and his friends being in an unfamiliar place and having to figure out how to live in a new land."

Admission is free and open to youth kindergarten through sixth grade.

Walk-in registration for the event remains open, according to Jankoski, and there is usually space available for walk-in registrations the first day of VBS.

"We have classes for [children] who are in kindergarten (age 5 by Sept. 1) through sixth grade," she said. "Registration is based on the child's fall 2018 school grade. We do have a parent and child together option for those with preschoolers and for other special circumstances. The parent or other authorized adult chaperone must stay with the child at all times for those who wish to use this option. Usually on the first day of VBS there is still space available for walk-in registrations."

In addition to the daily VBS events, the Fort Rucker Religious Services Office will host a Family Night at VBS for all parents and students from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

"We will provide a meal for all participants and a program where parents can see their children perform some of the skits and music they are learning, and they will be able to walk through the VBS Marketplace and experience many of the VBS activities the children participate in each day," Jankoski said.

Although the VBS program is Christian-based, Jankoski feels the lessons contained within know no boundaries.

"We always use or write curriculum that teaches foundational truths that all Christian denominations have in common," she said. "This year's theme is from what Christians would call the Old Testament, and Daniel and his friends were Jewish youths who were determined to continue to be faithful to their religious beliefs. We will help our students learn to appreciate and respect people, which is exactly what Daniel dealt with himself. He worked with King Nebuchadnezzer, knowing the king did not share his beliefs. And in many ways, the kings of Babylon and the Medo-Persian empire, like Darius, also respected Daniel.

"Daniel's story begins as a teenager in Babylon and ends with him being a senior citizen now serving kings from the Medo-Persian empire," she added. "He treated them with respect and honor while continuing to remain true to his own faith and, as the students will see, there were times when the various kings also treated Daniel with respect."

For more information, call 255-3946.