Vacation Bible School
Wadena churches combined games and crafts, scripture and singing to teach Christian lessons throughout the summer during Vacation Bible Schools.
Area kids gathered at the Christian and Missionary Alliance church for a "Cabin Fever" VBS program last week. They sang praise tunes in the hootie owl nest, played squirrely games and devoured wormy cakes and moose juice at the Haluwasa Cookhouse.
The "Cabin Fever" program connects Bible stories to north woods imagery, said Sandy Fultz, chair of the disciple team. At lumberjack camp children learn about Zacheus, who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. And playing a fishing game teaches them that Jesus is a fisher of men, she said.
"It's kind of Bible truths intermingled with fun," Fultz said.
Throughout the week the program tells the story of Woody, a cranky lodge keeper, and Hallelujah Hal, a cheerful city slicker, she said. Woody's attitude is anti-God because his young son died when he was lost in the woods. But Hallelujah Hal is excited about his relationship with God, Fultz said.
"As the week goes on Woody's heart starts to soften," she said. "And by the end of the week he comes around and gives his heart to the Lord."
Helping children to realize their need for God and to grow in their relationship with Jesus is the goal of the week, Fultz said.
"This week helps the children ... to see their need for Christ as their savior and to go a step forward and teach them how to grow in their faith," she said about the six principles the children learn to grow in their faith. "They need to pray, read the Bible, memorize scripture, go to church, talk about Jesus and serve others."
The fun games and special projects give the children a new boost and something different from their Sunday morning routine, Fultz said. She said one of the best parts about VBS is the time children and adults spend interacting.
"We learn about God and we can memorize verses and ... we can win prizes," Caleb Monson, 10, said were his favorite things about VBS.
This week, he learned that God is always there and that he never leaves you, he said.
The CMA church took kids on a faith-filled journey through the north woods, while St. John's Lutheran Church ventured into the tropics during a week titled "Treasure Cove: Discover the Riches of Christ."
The children go to four sites each night for music, games, lessons and crafts to get clues that lead to a lost gem, said Tim Wells, director of Christian education. Each day features a different jewel that relates to a lesson and a verse. A clear diamond represents Jesus's perfection, and a blue sapphire symbolizes Jesus walking on the water, he said.
The church began promoting the "Treasure Cove" VBS before Christmas last year with a Christmas tree decorating contest, said Kim Juers, VBS director. The church has continued to get the word out through the summer as well, with a float at the Wad of Fun parade and a booth at the Wadena County Fair, she said.
"That's the main point of VBS is to reach out to everyone and anyone," Juers said.
St. John's is reaching out to children around the world by raising money for a preschool in Sri Lanka, she said. The adults in the church are collecting donations, as well. The kids are competing to see which group can out-donate the grown ups. The children are also helping closer to home by collecting donations for the Wadena food shelf, she said.
For Wells, the treasure theme, games and fund raising are a means to share a simple message with the children.
"The greatest treasure is Jesus, who died for us so we can have eternal life and forgiveness of sins," Wells said.