Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 26, 2010
Circus of stars opens children to God's love
Bible school teaches youngsters the importance of balance in their lives
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
SPRUCE GROVE - Staying true to its circus theme, the underlying message behind Holy Trinity Parish's vacation Bible school was that of balance.
The children learned that everybody needs balance in their lives. They were taught that through work, rest, play and prayer, they could achieve balance and grow closer to God.
This is the fifth year of vacation Bible school at the Spruce Grove/Stony Plain church. Catholic to the core and focused on forming virtue, it is part of the parish's Kids 4 Jesus (K4J) Club, which runs year-round, serving about 40 children.
Eighty children were registered for the summer program, Circus of Stars, which ran for two hours in the mornings, July 19-23. The club helps kids live virtue and love their faith, with memories that last a lifetime.
"It rotates through four different themes. This year we are focusing on God the Father. It's a Circus of Stars, teaching children that they are all stars in God's eyes, that they have been created in his image," said program coordinator, Lorraine Cameron.
Past themes were Summertime Blast: Jesus and the Eucharist, Surfing with the Spirit, and Win the World for Jesus.
The vacation Bible school is virtue-based, fun for kids, and user-friendly for the parents and other volunteers. The K4J program is specifically designed to help children discover Christ and learn their Catholic faith in all of its richness.
MISSIONARY IN MOTION
"Each year they have a mission, and at the Missionary in Motion it will be explained what the mission is. One year it was raising money for pro-life organizations. The money goes to local groups that we would choose.
"This is the Year for Priests, and it's the retired priests that the children are collecting money for. They are given a baggy and through the week they collect coins for the priests," she said.
Groups of kids rotate through five activity stations, spending about 25 minutes at each station before advancing to the next. The stations are snacks, crafts, games, Missionary in Motion (catechesis), and an open station used for everything from parachuting to playing with bubbles outside. The kids also worked on making clay crosses.
"All of the volunteers working at the stations have been given some information on the theme for the day, and then they just converse naturally with the children. It's not really sitting and teaching them at the centres.
"Today the kids will learn about balance in their activities. They will be balancing chocolate chips and candies on their hands," said Cameron.
One strength of the camp happens when the older children take an active leadership role. The peer-to-peer leadership is enriching for all ages.
"We like to encourage the 12-year-olds and 14-year-olds to operate a games station or run the crafts station or lead a group of younger children around. They do their jobs very well and take their jobs seriously. It's effective having children teaching children. The older children learn by having to teach the younger ones," said Cameron.
The lives of the saints serve as examples of faith. Every summer the participants learn about four different saints, providing them with virtuous models to imitate. The older children perform a skit about those saints.
Another highlight is the Friday Mass. Children in the program will take on active roles, perhaps altar serving, doing readings, or wheeling to the altar a wagon full of donations for the retired priests.
Similar Circus of Stars summer programs were established at St. Thomas More Parish in Edmonton and St. Maria Goretti Parish in Devon.
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