By Brittany Carlson, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs OfficeAugust 17, 2009
STUTTGART, Germany -- Learning about God doesn't have to be boring, according to the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Religious Support Office. Bible lessons can come in the form of a song, a game or even a snack.
And so they did during the garrison's Crocodile Dock Vacation Bible School this summer.
Preschool and elementary school students learned scripture verses in a "bayou" with the help of animal characters like Blossom the Possum and Chatter Chipmunk. The week-long camp was held on Patch Barracks in July and, for the first time, on Robinson Barracks earlier this month.
"The kids get more excited every day," said Jim Sciegel, one of the garrison directors of religious education. "It gave parents a way of knowing that children can enjoy going to a church event."
On Patch Barracks, 250 children from Patch, Kelley Barracks and Panzer Kaserne attended, along with 140 volunteers, and on Robinson Barracks, 70 children and 60 volunteers participated.
Each day, the children learned a new Bible theme, such as "God is with us" and "God gives us new life," which was incorporated into every activity, from a Swamp Stomp song and dance to a video and craft.
"I like the songs we sing and the opportunity to praise Jesus," said Leia Generally, 9.
At the end of the camp, families of participating children were given a Crocodile Dock music CD.
"[Parents] enjoyed that children came home excited, happy and energized by the day," Sciegel said.
While the point of VBS was to give children a summer vacation experience with a Christian perspective, the school also had other benefits, Sciegel added.
The program brought together members of different denominations, as well as new arrivals to the garrison.
"New people coming in have the opportunity for their children to meet new friends, [to] prepare them in time for the school year," Sciegel said. Parents and volunteers could also build networks.
Drew Penrad, 15, volunteered for the Robinson Barracks VBS. "This is a way for me to give something to the community," he said.
The children's excitement made Sciegel's time commitment worthwhile. "When they have smiles on their faces and thank you on the way out, it's worth it," he said.