Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vacation Bible School Hard Work Churches Go All out for Activities

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vacation Bible School Hard Work Churches Go All out for Activities

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

Hundreds of Westside children are going on a treacherous journey through the Amazon rain forest this summer. They'll encounter a waterfall, a leaky boat and colorful jungle denizens of both the human and animal variety.

Granted, it's a simulated journey they're taking as part of Vacation Bible School. But a number of churches are using the "Amazon Outfitters: On Expedition With the One True God" theme this year and have gone to great lengths to give it an authentic flavor.

St. Peter's Episcopal Church started preparing for VBS in February and recently has been having work days to paint, glue and build thatched bamboo huts, soaring palm trees, lush vegetation and colorful jungle backdrops, children's director Lynne Krekelberg said.

Its program runs from 9 a.m. to noon this Monday through Friday at the church at Timuquana and Ortega Farms roads. VBS, which is free, is open to children ages 4 to 11.

"We always allow for a 25 percent increase on that first day, in case we have this influx of unregistered children," Krekelberg said.

Meanwhile, the rain forest theme was a hit with the 85 children who attended VBS at Lake Shore Baptist Church this past week, said director Denise McWhorter.

"Our decorations were so elaborate that they didn't feel like they were in our Sunday school room," McWhorter said.

Adding to the tropical atmosphere were raindrops made of clear beads attached to fishing line suspended from the ceiling and a live tarantula and snake, safely caged, of course.

Last year, St. Peter's had a "phenomenal" VBS that attracted 185 children, Krekelberg said. It was especially noteworthy because St. Peter's is a fairly small church with an attendance of about 300, she said.

Krekelberg said she starts building momentum months in advance so youths are primed enough to tell their friends about it. It's featured on church bulletin boards and advertised in the media. …

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