Summer always meant Vacation Bible School when I was growing up. My mother
complains says that she can still remember all six or seven verses of “the Moses Song” from my first year in VBS (“Mooooooses, floating in a basket, drifting down the river Nile. Whoooooooo will, who will save him? God will save this lit-tull child!” There were hand motions and a lot of six-year-olds screaming the words. I’m sure it was memorable indeed). I loved this five-day opportunity to make summer as much like school as possible. My mom probably loved the opportunity to have someone else entertain Bird and I while she ran errands.
You could only attend VBS as a student through 5th grade, so then, naturally, because I hadn’t had enough of the mind-numbingly repetitive songs and the cutesy themes (OK, I actually love the decorations in the Social Hall every year), I decided to be a volunteer for several years – until I graduated high school, actually.
One year, the Social Hall was set up to look like a Roman marketplace. I forget the theme, but it was something about the book of Acts and the apostles trying to avoid persecution in the early Church. There was even a cave (made of gray butcher paper and stacks of chairs) set up in the hallway for students to duck into whenever the “guards” walked by. I worked in the abacus stall, helping kids string beads in cardboard frames (which usually took so long we didn’t have time to show them how it worked…which was fortunate, since we didn’t actually know).
I was also in a skit.
Every morning, volunteers would act out a short scene teaching one of the values related to that day’s Bible story. I was supposed to be the kindly baker who buys a thief’s freedom from the surly guard, even though he steals bread right off my tray. It was supposed to demonstrate forgiveness or something.
However, there were several problems with this plan.
- This skit took place at snack time, with a tray of actual pieces of bread/donuts to entice the kids, instead of during the morning assembly when they were all sitting quietly already. Obviously, the kids found the food more interesting than the stilted dialogue.
- The boy chosen to play the thief and the boy chosen to play the guard were brothers. Identical twins, actually. Who spoke very fast. And got a little too into the whole “arrest” part of the skit. Which led to…
- …an adult volunteer mistaking the spectacle for a real fight, coming over, physically separating the brothers, interrupting the skit to lecture them on acting their age in front of the kids. At which point I noticed the students turning toward us with wide eyes. Oh, sure, now they paid attention.
- None of us knew how seriously to take this, so we weren’t sure at what point we were supposed to break character. I tried to explain to the adult that we were acting, but he didn’t seem to get it.
- The second time we performed the skit (there were 2 snack time shifts), no one had reset the gold I was supposed to use to pay off the guard, so I had to run around to the stalls looking for the plastic “gold” coins the kids used to gain entrance to their activities. So essentially it looked like I was stealing in order to save a thief. Oy.
- We were supposed to use a microphone so the kids could hear us, but passing the mic from person to person doesn’t make for a particularly realistic argument, nor does it make a lot of sense for a baker handing out trays of donuts to be holding a microphone in the other hand.
Hopefully our failure of a skit did not make or break anyone’s VBS experience. But the important thing is, the kids learned their theme songs by the end-of-week show.