Staying sandy: Church at Old Town hosts VBS

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer

 HELENA – Featuring sandcastles, surfboards and scripture, the Church at Old Town celebrated a week of summer fun at Vacation Bible School from June 17-21.

According to the Church at Old Town’s children’s director, Ashley Bolen, more than 300 children in first through sixth grade attended VBS this year.

“We have had an awesome week,” Bolen said. “(There are) lots of games, crafts, music and chaos—organized chaos, but still chaos. The kids have loved it. It’s been a super fun time.”

This year’s theme was Breaker Rock Beach. Beyond transforming the halls of the church into a sandy summer camp, the theme also served to guide the children through lessons each day.

“With Breaker Rock Beach, the whole point behind it is that the kids are learning that God’s word never changes,” Bolen said. “Every day, they learn something that they hear frequently that the world says and then we are comparing that with the Bible and teaching them what God’s word actually says.”

When children walked through the doors every morning, they started their day with a “worship rally,” a high-energy worship session featuring singing, dancing, jumping and messages from special aquatic characters.

After worship, the kids split into groups by grade level and rotated between stations. Storytime introduced the daily lessons and the music station taught songs that contain scripture. During craft time, kids made crafts that tied back to the lesson each day. If those activities didn’t tire the kids out, rec time in the gym featured a variety of exercises and games.

The kids also learned about various local and international mission organizations. Special guests, such as missionaries from the Shelby Baptist Association,  shared their stories and answered the children’s questions.

In addition, to learning about missions, the children had the opportunity to support charity efforts through giving.

“This year, we’re raising money to partner with Shelby Baptist Association to provide school supplies for local children in need,” Bolen said. “I love that the money stays right here in the community and will support those kiddos that need school supplies for the start of the school year.”

This year, the Church at Old Town decided to turn the fundraiser into a competition for the kids.

Children could bring in money to donate and place the cash in one of two bins—one belonging to Bolen and the other to their lead pastor, Josh Knierim.

If the kids raised over $1,000, the person whose bin had the least money would become a “human smore.” If they raised over $2,000, they both would undergo the transformation.

“The kids like to make it a challenge,” Bolen said. “It’s super fun for the kids because it gets them excited. There’s chocolate syrup, marshmallow fluff and crushed graham crackers involved. It will be all over our heads, so this kids are going to love it.”

On the final day of VBS, the money was totaled with donations passing the $2,000 goal. Both Bolen and Knierim ended their weeks covered in chocolate, graham cracker crumbs and gooey goodness.

Beyond making memories for the kids, Bolen believes that VBS is the perfect opportunity to teach children important lessons from a young age.

“I think VBS is super important,” Bolen said. “I think it lays the foundation for a lot of kiddos on what they believe (and) what the Bible says.”

Bolen also believes that VBS is also beneficial for all those who attend VBS, including the volunteers.

“We’re excited to be here,” Bolen said. “The kids run in every morning, super excited and pumped, as we are all drinking as much coffee as we can before they walk in the door. It’s just fun to see their excitement to be here and to learn about Jesus.”

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