By Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsAugust 14, 2012
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan (Aug. 15, 2012) -- The weeklong "SonSurf Beach Bash" Vacation Bible School concluded here Aug. 10, drawing more than 170 children to the base for five days of outreach, learning and fun, the event's director said.
The event was coordinated by the U.S. Army Garrison Japan Chaplain's Office and also included attendees and volunteers from nearby Camp Zama, the installation on which the unit is located.
"Vacation Bible School is meant to be an outreach tool to invite children to come and learn about Jesus and God's love," said Tanya Waner. "This is just a fun way to do that."
The children, who ranged from pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade age, had a range of activities available to them throughout the week. These included snack- and craft-making, Bible stories, in- and outdoor games, and singing.
"The activities were centered on what the Bible story was for that day; [the children] were at each station for about 20 minutes, so they were constantly doing something new and different, and that kept them engaged." said Waner. "Everything was reinforced by the crafts and snacks they made, the games they played, and the songs they sang so that they could easily remember what they learned that day."
First-time attendee Emily Coates, 10, said she thought Vacation Bible School would be fun because enjoys attending church and learning new things about God. The opportunity to participate with other children her age who were there for the same purpose was also extremely beneficial, Emily said.
"I thought all the activities were very exciting and fun," said Emily. "My favorite activity was the Bible room, because I liked learning the stories about Jesus. I also liked the craft room because we got to make things, and there was a purpose for the things we made."
Based on the large number of youth attendees, their positive reception toward the activities, and their retention of the lessons offered throughout the week, Waner said she considered this year's Vacation Bible School a huge success.
"Hopefully we can get these children and their families engaged in other chapel activities and kind of grow the chapel and other ministries we have throughout the school year," said Waner. "We just want to keep the message going."
Emily affirmed that her attendance at the event was a positive experience that encouraged her to want to participate in future years.
"I would say that if you believe in God, then Vacation Bible School is a nice thing to help you get involved with your community -- and because it's really fun."