By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sharing, Caring Learned At VBS
Several dozen youngsters enjoyed spending some time at Crocodile Dock this past week, heading off to Vacation Bible School hosted at Escalon's Christian Reformed Church.

One of many local churches to stage a VBS during the summer, the Christian Reformed Church on California Street was set up for a swamp adventure, with the children rotating through a morning full of crafts, Bible lessons, outdoor games, music and video time and a snack.

"It's a little lower than we've had in the past," co-director Heidi Veldstra said of the turnout.

Still, about 60 children from those entering kindergarten to fifth grade attended and were kept busy from 9 a.m. to noon from July 13 through 17. Several helpers were also on hand to assist, including middle and high school students and adult volunteers.

"I think the kids are having a lot of fun," Veldstra said, noting that they gather in the fellowship hall of the church to start and end their day, with that room featuring props to give it the appearance of a swamp.

"The Bible lessons are good and the kids enjoy the daily video with Chatter the Chipmunk," co-director Debbie Doek added.

Children were grouped in age ranges of kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth to move through the stations together. They spent about 20 minutes at each of the stations daily.

On Wednesday, the Bible lesson dealt with Passover, the craft saw youngsters planting seeds in a cup to take home and continue growing, with games ranging from 'raft' races on the grass outside with plastic toboggans to a relay race to see which team could get more water into a pitcher by squeezing it from an absorbent ball.

Throughout the week, said Doek, children were instructed to 'Watch for God' and report their 'God sightings' whether it was something in nature, observing an act of kindness, or the like. Many even wore bracelets with the Watch for God message.

Bible lessons dealt mostly with the Old Testament, including the story of Moses, the Israelites leaving Egypt and the various plagues.

Friday, the final day, featured a special project for the children.

"We make 'comfort critters' that we send to a Bible company and then they go from there to the Red Cross," explained Doek.

The 'critters' are stuffed animals, in the shape of a turtle, with a little pouch on the belly for a personal note. They will be utilized by the Red Cross in times of disaster, when families evacuated or displaced are taken to a shelter. The stuffed animal - with a message of hope and encouragement inside written by an Escalon VBS participant - will be given to a child to help comfort them.

Children often don't have time to grab that special stuffed animal when disaster hits, so Doek said making some for the Red Cross to hand out teaches the youngsters at VBS a powerful lesson in sharing and comfort.

"They get to make one for themselves, too," she said.

A canoe placed at 'dockside' in the fellowship hall-turned-swamp served as the collection spot.

"We put all the turtles in the canoe and then ship them off," Veldstra said.