Children discover ‘God’s Great Light’ at Camp Branch VBS

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Camp Branch United Methodist Church invited children from the area for a week of music, games and bible lessons during its island-themed Vacation Bible School.

The church followed the “Discovery on Adventure Island: Quest for God’s Great Light” VBS program, which taught the tenants of love, faith, trust, joy and hope through five days of fun lessons and activities.

“The children have been having a great time,” Camp Branch’s Debra Payne said. “They have been really well-behaved and very attentive this year. We had a couple of kids who had never gotten the chance to go to VBS before so it was really fun to see them experience that.”

Each day the lesson would have a Bible verse tied to one of those tenants. Then the different age groups would rotate through music sessions and science lesson, snacks, crafts and some form of recreation.

“We have a time for studying the story itself,” Payne said. “We are a more intimate-sized church, so the ratio of kids to teacher is smaller. We start out our groups at the age of 3 and go up to sixth grade. We have found they are still into VBS, even if they are too cool for school.”

For kids above sixth grade, Camp Branch invites them back to be teen volunteers for the church.

“They are so helpful, and we are so thankful for them,” Payne said. “They will change our signs, assist with recreation activities, help lead classes or just be there if we need them.”

The VBS was also a special moment for the church. Payne explained how it marked their ability to have some sense of normalcy in the building.

“Being able to have bible schools is certainly a milestone for us,” she said. “We started having limited service back in October. We followed guidelines with distancing and masking, and there was music or communion. This VBS was one of the first times we have been able to fully utilize our facility. It’s the first step back to normalcy. It allows more than just our congregation back by having all the rooms occupied every day.”

Mary Rafferty, a former member of Camp Branch, reached out to the church and shared how the program impacted her.

“Family. Once again, Reagan and Daniel, a helper this year, are immensely enjoying the program. The CD may be worn out before the week is over,” Rafferty shared. “Three generations have been and continue to be blessed through this wonderful VBS.”

As the children finish out the week, Payne said she was grateful the church was able to provide this experience for its children. She also expressed thanks for the volunteers who made the VBS possible.

“We could not do it without our volunteers,” Payne said. “They gave their time tirelessly to decorate. It means so much to give that time and effort for us.”