Decorating for the established theme of VBS is an endeavor that requires the energies of numerous congregation members and the conducting of several business meetings. The theme is part of the selected curriculum, and the Leader’s manual offers suggestions of how to turn a lowly country sanctuary into a backdrop that will transport the masses of children into a conducive learning environment. Some years the theme is accessible and you find yourself in the midst of a farm not unlike the five right down the road, and other years you have harried workers frantically trying to turn a 14×12 classroom in a metal building into one of the great pyramids while trying to figure out how to keep the toddlers from eating fistfuls of sand from the frog-shaped wading pool that represents an oasis in the desert. One of my favorite years was the western theme.
The members of the First Baptist sat confidently as the VBS CEO led the troops through a checklist for the essential items we would need to turn our church into a full-blown cattle ranch. Cowboy boots with spurs? Check. Flannel shirts? Four per member. Bandanas? As plentiful as dryer sheets. Barb wire fence? Rusted or still on the roll – whatever the chief wanted. We were whizzing along until she saw one crucial element that might pose a problem. She needn’t have worried.
“Does anyone have a cow skull?”
Five hands shot up, and a man’s voice called out from the back, “Heifer or steer?” There was no stopping us now. And the lassoes could be used for both decorative and disciplinary purposes if some of the tykes got out of hand. We were home on the range . . . shooting or otherwise.
But some years have presented more than a moderate challenge. The year we were supposed to turn the sanctuary into the Big Apple was almost more than our creative juices could tackle. Once you got beyond a cardboard cutout of the Statue of Liberty and a wide assortment of oversized pieces of fruit, the brainstorming session turned into a light drizzle with drought in the immediate forecast. Whatever do you do to represent big city folks? Should we line the pews with designer clothing and handbags in order to convey the fashion industry and the growing problem of American citizens unable to live within their means as they ruthlessly max out their credit cards? Well, that would only cover a pew and a half, and that’s thanks to the Polo outlet store off exit 5. Should we fill the sanctuary with incense in order to replicate the smog issues and need for stricter automobile emissions laws? And how should we try to simulate the hustle and bustle of the subway? And would it really be wise to introduce a child at the tender age of seven to the concept of muggers anyway? So much to ponder.
But the show must go on. And whether it’s the Australian Outback or the wilds of the Amazon jungle, the VBS crew will do its best to draw your child into all manner of exotic locations. As long as he understands that all cultures need to make crafts with macaroni noodles and Popsicle sticks.
© 2013 – Traci Carver