VICENZA, Italy (June 2, 2020) -- Vacation Bible School is an annual event, and children look forward to participating in the program year after year. This year, though, because of the COVID-19 measures, VBS has risked being canceled.
"A few months ago, we didn’t know what the future held as far as if we would be able to meet. We really wanted to do something rather than wait until next year," said Julie Hartenberg, VBS coordinator.
So, because of social distancing measures, VBS 2020 will mark the first time held online in Vicenza. This year's theme is "Rocky Railway: Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through.”
"We just had to make the hard decision of going online rather than having it in person or cancel, and we felt this was the best decision that we could do," explained Hartenberg. "So, we are trying to make the most of it and hopefully kids will still be engaged even though, I know, they see a lot of school online and doing homework online, and here is another thing online, but we are happy they can still be in the program," she added.
With assistance from parents and the support of dozens of volunteers, approximately 120 children from the Vicenza Military Community will still be able to partake in the five-day experience, June 15-19, 2020, from home.
Like in the past, children in the range of kindergarten to fifth grade will engage in several activities.
"We are going to have Bible stories, Imagination Station with stories behind that and each day there is going to be a different story. There will be a green screen where we are going to put different pictures, so that the children feel like they are in a different place rather than home," said Hartenberg.
To accommodate the snack experience at home, a list of snacks will be provided for children to make with their parents.
According to Hartenberg, the videos will be recorded next week. The following week, Chaplain (Maj.) Jason Hohnberger, garrison operations chaplain, will edit and compile the videos to be posted on June 15, 2020, at 9 a.m.
"This is going to be a phenomenal team effort to be able to film, produce and distribute VBS to each of our children in their home," said Hohnberger. "I am proud of everybody," he added, “excited to offer this popular summer program to the Vicenza community.”
Each day of the event, children will have the opportunity to watch a 45-minute video, learning songs, hearing about the bible, and participating in the Imagination Station.
"I’m hoping that kids’ lives can be changed, that they have hope in this crazy world that we are living in. It was a really hard decision trying to figure out if we should go online or still trying do it live. Even though we can’t physically be with them, we can at least reach out across the TV,” said Hartenberg. “Hopefully, it can be great because the parents can be involved too,” she highlighted.
For those interested in registering their children for VBS, please visit USAG Italy Religious Support Office (RSO) on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/517883081746656/videos/3086418218058478/ or visit https://vbspro.events/p/events/28e270so.
It is possible to register until June 8 for Darby and until June 12 for Vicenza. After registering, parents may pick up the Rocky Railway Travel Kit at the Spiritual Life Center on Caserma Ederle Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.
For more information, call DSN 646-4935 or CIV 0444-71-4935.