Vacation Bible School has been fun every place I’ve done it. This year, I wasn’t in charge of the big picture, so I got to spend time with the bigger picture: kids. Seven of them in particular were my “tribe,” to travel around with and meet storytellers and craftspeople and camels. Yep, a camel. Didn’t I mention that VBS is fun?
Three half-days isn’t much time to get to know people, but I pulled out a lesson I learned from being a camp counselor: one of the things that makes camp great is that it gives kids a chance to succeed without any actual pressure to succeed. So, the second day of VBS, my teen helper and I watched for ways our kids were succeeding at following Jesus. At the end of the morning, we told each one of them something they had done that demonstrated a quality that helps us follow God – responsibility, determination, patience, kindness.
I’m not sure how much the particulars of what we shared mattered to them. I am quite sure that they were surprised to know that we had been paying attention, and remembering. Despite the popular media’s version of growing up – that all kids are told only good things about themselves, and are told them all the time – many kids don’t hear much genuine praise.
I thanked the youngest girl for saving and reusing her cup all morning (her idea) – especially since we had talked that day about God creating the world and wanting people to care for it. Small praise may not matter much in the big picture, but this morning, on the third day, three other kids in our group saved their cups too.