I have been a part of Vacation Bible School since 1989. My first memories involve red Kool-Aid, turtle races on Friday, pricking Stacia Coym with a holly leaf, riding the church bus, and thinking the water fountain had magical properties because there was a sign above it that said “Whoever drinks the living water shall never thirst again.”
I was still thirsty. Baffling.
I only attended the First Baptist Church in Lexington, and even when I could not attend, I helped each year until graduation. In college I was a teacher/co-director. Past college, I directed 4-5 VBS weeks. I’ve been a part of roughly 20+ Vacation Bible Schools.
One thing I developed a bias about was the VBS “jumpers.” VBS is a hard week to plan! You try to pre-register and there’s still a crush of children on the first day. Chaos will ensue. Parents will try to ask you a million questions about camp or something else and you just want to yell, “It’s the FIRST DAY of VBS. Stop talking to me about anything non-VBS related.” Parents will try to pull up to the door, shove their kids out at you and drive off in such a rush that they leave tire tracks in the parking lot. They will try to drop off their 3 year old, even though your fliers specifically say “COMPLETED Kindergarten – 5th grade.” They yell at you because you are “turning” their child away. The hardest part about being patient with this is that sometimes you KNOW they are “jumpers.”
These parents used to drive me nuts. If I was still directing, I’m sure they still would.
What’s a Jumper, you ask? Jumpers are kids who hit up every VBS in a 20 mile radius all summer long.
I used to think, “how irresponsible.” Also, they are usually the angriest parents.
Now that I have a little one, and while she is only 14 months old and we are years away from even considering a VBS, I’m beginning to understand where they are coming from.
VBS is a beautiful thing. It’s a free program for one whole week, usually 4 hours a day. That’s 20 hours of quiet time. That’s a shower each day. Grocery shopping. Cleaning. Starbucks. ALONE TIME.
Imagine, your kids have been home for 3 whole weeks. In that time you have had to yell no less than 20 times a day, break up fights, tell them to stop whining, etc, etc. You look at the calendar and think, “Oh Sweet Baby Jesus, it’s only JUNE.” You start to frantically search the internet and newspapers looking for ANYTHING to entertain your children and you see it: Vacation Bible School. One whole week of free mornings. You blow through that week, getting things off your checklist, and on Friday you welcome your sweet babies. They are happy and eager to show your their peanut butter bird houses. By Saturday, they are back at each other’s throats and you think, “Is there another VBS anywhere?”
VBS “jumpers” aren’t lazy. They have ingenuity. Genius, if you will. You go, VBS jumpers. You go.