We just finished our first virtual VBS! We used a super fun program called Faith Labs @ Home. It's an at home VBS with five sessions - once you signed up you had access to all sessions. This allowed parents to work it into their schedule, instead of scheduling around it. West Side chose to implement it with one session each Monday in August but because parents had access to each session they didn’t have to worry about missing a week. Each session included a bible verse song, devotional where a bible verse is explained with science examples and experiments that supported each session's theme and primarily used at home supplies (we did have a social distanced pick-up for supplies each week to make sure everyone had what was needed). Each session also had few extra videos and game/snack suggestions. I have to admit, the songs were catchy, I still have the first song with 2 Corinthians 5:21 stuck in my head!

The devotions were all very clear, simple points demonstrated with some very fun experiments. One of the more interesting ones focused on Psalm 32:3 & 5 where David laments that hiding his sins weakens his very bones and weakened bones were demonstrated by a chicken bone had been soaked in chemicals till it was bendy! They were very clever and strongly focused not just in biblical concepts but directly in a verse.
The experiments had some great variety from classic ones like paper air planes, or floating tin foil boats, that we have previously done in both VBS and Sunday school, to some new ones like building bridges or the best shape to make a tower. I think making the safety capsule to try and save your egg looked to be one the kids particularly enjoyed.

Building community in a virtual environment is always going to be a bit tricky. We tried a few things before we found the best way for our group of families. Mid-week I sent out a check-in email to make sure everyone was set for the coming session. That email became a jumping off point for an email chain sharing experiment results. It was definitely a high point of the VBS week to see the kids so proud of their experiments. I also know a few families teamed up with other in their neighborhoods. If you are one of those families please let us know about your experience doing this!

I have to admit, a VBS where I don’t get to see any kids is weird, to put it mildly, but I really think this program was a great fit for our community and situation. From my end, which I admit is the easy end since I’m not the one trying to get kids to follow directions, I found this program really well organized and nice to work with. I hope our parents did also!

Prayers for all as we start the school year,
Erika Aronson
Children's Ministry Assistant
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