Virtual VBS program to connect Fort Campbell Families at home
By Emily LaForme, Fort Campbell CourierJune 11, 2020
Fort Campbell Religious Support Services will be continuing to engage Fort Campbell children through a Virtual Vacation Bible School this summer.“Every year we have a very big Vacation Bible School program, I’ve been told it’s the largest in the Army,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Scott Nichols, deputy chief of Religious Support and director of Garrison Community Ministries. “We usually have at least 300-plus children come through the program. There is a lot of organizing and a lot of volunteers behind it. Back in April, we came together when we still did not really have a sense of the duration of COVID-19. We had to make some sort of decision for VBS quickly that would fit social distancing constraints.”The new program, created specifically to fit in with COVID-19 safety precautions, will consist of activity packs and a lesson manual for Families to work on together. This year’s VBS program, “Tell Me a Story: Family Bible Story and Craft Kits,” will provide a week of crafts, stories and activities.“We have five Bible story crafts, a manual that goes with it that has the Bible story and questions parents can discuss with their kids, and a snack they can make at home to reflect the story,” said Jolynda H. Strandberg, director of religious education. “We are really trying to promote parents being teachers of faith for their kids and giving them the tools to help them do it more easily at home.”In addition to working through the pack as a Family, children and their parents can log into the private Facebook group for Fort Campbell VBS and post their activities and share experiences.“They can share things that work or things that might be changed for the future if we ever do it again,” Strandberg said. “Our music leader for VBS is really talented and she’ll post worship videos for kids to enjoy as well.”The pack can last as long as each Family would like, instead of the traditional one-week duration. Families can space each activity out over a week or complete one activity once a week for five weeks.Hosting VBS in this format has allowed Fort Campbell Religious Support Services to reach even more children than in previous summers.“We are limited by the building when we host VBS in person,” Strandberg said. “VBS typically fills up in the first week of registration, so we’ve had to turn away a lot of Families. Now we can reach 500 kids rather than 300. I think this provides a great opportunity for kids to have some hands-on type activities with their parents, it solidifies their Family bond and builds resiliency within their home.”The Fort Campbell Religious Support Services team did not want to miss out on a chance to keep children engaged and were excited for finding a safe solution for everyone to enjoy.“I think we have had success in moving our services virtual,” Nichols said. “We’ve been able to get parents involved and keep Families engaged. This is something different and I think it’s why parents have liked it so much, it gives them the tools and resources for parents to teach their kids when they usually would hand them off to Sunday school leaders.”The first packs will be distributed June 28 and will be available for Families to pick up while supplies last.“When they sign-up, we tell them which days they can pick up the packs, or we also do pick-up by appointment for parents who work during the pick-up hours,” Strandberg said. “They just drive up, tell us their last name and we can give them the correct amount of packs and a manual.”Parents can register their children through the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/280628309779422.