Last night, I had my first foray into preparations for Vacation Bible School at our parish, and I'm super excited. I had missed one meeting previously that fell on the evening of Hank's pre-k graduation, so I was glad to be able to attend yesterday.
I arrived, real prompt-like, and wandered into the school. Sadly, our parish school has closed as of the end of this past academic year. It's been open since 1899 :( Tragic, really. But enrollment had dropped steadily until the parish simply couldn't sustain it anymore. The real problem is that there are 2 other parishes within spitting distance that also have thriving schools, as well as 2 others well within 7 miles or so in either direction. A lot of competition. But the school looked tremendously cute. I definitely would have looked into it for Hank had it stayed open.
Anyway, I get in, and unsurprisingly, as I mentioned yesterday, it was hot. There were a bunch of sweaty teenagers in the room fanning themselves. At first I was confused. *All* of these teenagers are volunteering to help out at Vacation Bible School? It seemed unlikely that so many of them were so eager about the whole thing. I quickly figured things out - they are all Catholic high school students needing community service hours and this is one of their projects. Ah ha.
So, the Director of Religious Education, Becky, materialized and gave us the scoop. The kids will be in attendance from 9 am til noon each day of the week in question, and they will do 5 specific activities each day. Music, Bible stories, crafts, skits, and games. One or more adults will be in charge of each activity, and the teenagers will assist in various ways. Some of them will be put in charge of groups of kids to shepherd them along to each of their activities. Each day a different theme would permeate the day's activities - the parable of the good Samaritan, the lost sheep, etc.
I waited while they went through the mechanics of the teenagers getting their community service credit, and the only other non-teenager there, a retired kindergarten teacher, and I remained to talk to Becky afterward. Before I could get a word in edgewise, the teacher scooped up being in charge of crafts, to which I narrowed my eyes in jealousy. But really, I'm not going to be teaching the kids how to knit, so why should it matter? I wasn't good at art in school, and nothing has changed now. Artistic ability simply eludes me. I waited anxiously for my assignment as Becky and the new craft lady went through each craft and discussed how many cotton balls they needed to make lambs, should they let the kids trace their own hands or pre-cut things? etc. All stuff I desperately wanted to be a part of, mew.
Finally, Becky got to me and asked if I would head up games. As long as I didn't have to do skits I was pretty happy, so I agreed. I asked her what kind of games the kids would be playing, and she launched into a description involving water balloons, lamb tossing, relays, stuff like that. It didn't sound too terrible. And I'm glad that I won't be heading up a group and hence with Hank the whole time. Hank tends to be a bit shy, and with kindergarten approaching, I want him to feel more comfortable without me. He tends to cling when I'm nearby, and I'm glad that he'll be able to socialize with some other adults and kids from our parish. I've always been shy, and I had a hard time with that in school. I don't want to see Hank suffer like that as well.
As we were walking from room to room, we asked Becky a few non-VBS questions, such as the circumstances surrounding the school closing. She remarked that everyone had a hard time with the school closing, and she feared that one of the other nearby Catholic schools was also on the chopping block. She did say that the CCD program is thriving, with four hundred kids enrolled each year. Our parish has a new youth minister, and he's become very popular with the older kids approaching confirmation. He's been very active with them, having them go on retreats and other group activities. This is a good thing. She did mention that so many kids are brought regularly to CCD by their parents to make their sacraments, but never attend Mass. This is so sad. But this was me when I was going through CCD.
CCD starts in first grade at our parish, and I mentioned that once Hank started, I'd like to teach a class. Becky's eyes lit up and immediately, she pounced:
"Really?! Are you afraid of the middle school kids? Because most people are, but that's the grades we always need teachers for."
Well, I kind of am :) My sister, Shauna'h, teaches CCD to 7th and 8th graders in her parish, so perhaps I'll solicit her advice. But to be honest, I was thinking more about the grade school aged children. I'm just so passive, I don't know how effective I'd be with the older kids. We'll see. That's not until next year anyway. I don't want to teach until Hank will also be attending at the same time. Our parish conducts CCD during the week, either Tuesdays or Thursdays (parent chooses which day they prefer) from 6:30-7:45. I don't want to be out of the house on an evening that I would miss Hank-time.
So, overall, it was very interesting. I'm going to be getting all my game specifics in the mail shortly. Becky mentioned that with the school closing, the religious education office is simply trying to keep the parish vibrant and active. We'll see how it goes. But I'm happy to be a part of it.