JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Vacation Bible School kicked off at Joint Base Lewis-McChord July 18. Children flocked to the chapels to attend the weeklong summer program, which taught them about God through exciting songs, games, skits, videos and activities.
Over 190 children, ages 4 years old through the fifth grade, registered to attend VBS in the first session and another 260 kids registered to attend the second session from Aug. 8 to 12.
“People first is one of our top priorities,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Jonathan Anderson, JBLM VBS afternoon site director. “Giving our service members access to this free resource is directly in line with that mission. We are meeting the service member’s needs as well as the family’s needs.”
This year’s theme is God's Wonder Lab. Each day, children travel in their age groups to the various stations to learn lessons about the wonders of God through various science experiments and demonstrations.
The camp offers 16 programs at four JBLM chapel sites:
• Lewis Main Chapel
• Lewis North Chapel
• Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel
• McChord Field Chapel Support Center
Parents have the option to choose a morning session from 9 to 11:30 a.m. or an evening session from 1 to 3 p.m. Volunteers can also choose which sessions they would like to volunteer.
“It has been such a great experience so far,” said Caitlyn Steenburg, a first-time volunteer. “My favorite part is hanging out with the kids and helping them with arts and crafts.”
Steenburg hopes the children will take what they learn during VBS and use it to shine a light on others around them.
This year the staff received aid from approximately 100 volunteers including parents, church members, veterans and service members from JBLM.
Katherine Scully, another VBS volunteer, also hopes the children will take the lessons they learn and apply them to their everyday lives.
"I've seen kids come to VBS with low esteem and what they learn here turns that around," Scully said. “They leave with more love for themselves. They're more motivated and enthusiastic. It does my heart good to see that."
One aspect that excited James Freitage, VBS director and senior director of religious education for the Religious Support Office at JBLM, was the collaboration effort between the RSO at JBLM and the Enterprise Multimedia Center.
“We’ve been working with them (EMC) for a few months now,” Freitage said. “We’ve been able to really streamline activities. Some are pre-recorded and kids can just follow along. This allows us to service more kids if we didn’t have enough volunteers to sign up.”
Even though VBS is only one week, according to Anderson, VBS provides more than fun and activities for youth who attend.
“I’m always so amazed with the growth of the kids throughout the week,” Anderson said. “They are eager to sit and learn about God in a fun environment.”
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