Our Everest VBS Experience



It’s hard to believe that our church’s VBS wrapped up a little more than 2 weeks ago.  After months and months of planning and a week of top-notch implementation, it’s a wrap.  After much-need rest and reflection, I am so thankful that we continue to run our VBS each year.  There are a few reasons why I love what we do.

  • Many of our children come to Christ during VBS.  Every year, parents share stories about conversations they’ve had with their child and how THEY led their child to Christ as a result.
  • Children invite their friends, neighbors and family members.  Our children are excited about the week and want everyone they know to be there!
  • It truly is an all-church event.  Our entire church – from staff to the congregation – rally around our VBS efforts.  There are only a handful of events that garner all-church buy-in and participation like our VBS does.

This year, our church chose Group Publishing’s Everest VBS curriculum.  In years past, we have chosen Group’s Holy Land VBS, which we have enjoyed for various reasons.  The format of the Holy Land curriculum became familiar to us, our planning team members found their niche, and not many other local churches offered this style of VBS.  It set us apart, so to speak.

This is the first time we’ve done Group’s ‘easy’ VBS since I’ve been at my church, so leading the charge of change was a challenge I was dreading.  I tried to accentuate the positive (which is my usual tendency) and highlighted elements that were not part of our typical offering.  It worked – we had a great week!

Here’s our VBS by the numbers:

253 children

175 volunteers

18 leadership (planning) teams

26 leadership (planning) team members

1 child led a family member to Christ

7 children received their very first bible

Here are just a few snippets of what I heard during the week:

{From a parent, who served as a crew leader} “…as happens almost every year, listening to the children sing gets to me.  Today I was in tears and had to step out.  The “Faith” song.  The music is always so powerful.  I shared with [name of child] why I stepped out. The next time we sang that song [child] was also touched by the Spirit.  The Spirit was strong today.  One child in our group shared that she had lost her mother to cancer.  Then another child…..shared about a grandmother who had to be in a wheelchair that they had prayed for.  We had lots of prayer requests and loved praying under our blanket.  My [child] enjoyed hearing her friends pray with and for her.  It’s exhausting thinking about trying to top today…..tomorrow.  NOT sure we can.”

{From a parent, who served as a crew leader} “I have a [younger] crew so many of the concepts are hard for them to grasp just starting to sink in. After camp today, the lady who picked up [child in group] came back in on the verge of tears to tell me that she was a friend of [child]’s mom and [child]’s family does not attend church. Today on the way out [child] was explaining to her what the cross was and what it meant. Your hard work and planning is paying off in touching the lives of even the youngest kids.”

{From a station leader} “This year, it seemed like the kids ‘got it’ more.  Awesome!”

As a VBS Director, it’s sometimes hard for me to remember the big picture when I’m in the thick of planning, but I tell ya…these kinds of stories and being part of such an impactful week for campers and volunteers alike makes it all worth it.

To all of our hardworking, creative, innovative, passionate, all-around-awesome leadership team members – THANK YOU!  I couldn’t have done it without you!

To all of our supportive church staff who used your gifts, talents and resources with us – THANK YOU!

To all of our volunteers – crew leaders, crew assistants, station leaders, security team members, prayer warriors, supporters (item donations and/or financial) – THANK YOU!

To all of our Celebration Picnic volunteers – THANK YOU!  Because of you, hundreds of people were served a delicious meal and enjoyed a wonderful evening of fellowship!

To my husband and children who supported me by listening, praying, driving me around, lifting boxes and boxes of stuff, brainstorming, eating take-out, overlooking piles of laundry and unopened mail – THANK YOU!  I love you so much!

To God be the glory!

13 Sanity Savers for VBS Directors

We are busy preparing for our church’s VBS (we call it Summer Bible Camp) next week.  Details – big and small – must be planned out, tweaked, and re-tweaked to welcome a few hundred campers and volunteers to our program each day.  If you are overseeing VBS, you know exactly what I mean!

This summer will mark my third year leading VBS at my church.  Each year has brought different joys, challenges and lessons.  I often give myself pep-talks throughout the weeks and days leading up to kick-off to encourage me when I start feeling overwhelmed.  Can you relate?

When it’s all said and done, I rely on tried and true strategies that keep me sane before, during, and after the madness – I mean planning. 🙂


  • Work ahead.  VBS season falls during my busiest time of year (ministry-wise and personally) so working ahead on projects helps me not to cram at the last-minute.
  • Limit unnecessary meetings and appointments.  Doing this allows me to be available to meet with VBS leaders and help them brainstorm ideas, gather supplies, answer questions, etc.  If I’m diligent about working ahead, I can be available to them and give them my undivided attention.
  • Clearly label borrowed items.  That way, you can return things with ease once camp concludes.


  • Eat breakfast every day.  Trust me, you’ll need the fuel to start each day off right.
  • Speaking of food, plan simple, easy-to-prepare meals.  I use my slow cooker almost every day during VBS because I’m too exhausted to cook.  I’ve also been known to keep the pizza delivery guy’s number on speed dial during VBS week!
  • Go to bed at a decent hour.  I don’t know about you, but I’m no good if I’m sleep deprived.  Close your computer, put the electronic devices away, turn off the TV and lights, and go to bed!


  • Accept offers of help in putting things away.  Many hands make light the load!
  • Take inventory of supplies for future reference.  Not only will this save you time down the road but it can also save you money.
  • Organize as you pack things away.  Clearly label supplies so they can be easily located for future use.
  • Celebrate the wins.  You and your team have worked incredibly hard to plan a wonderful week for the children and volunteers.  Take time to celebrate the stories you hear and the children who received Christ or took next steps in their faith journey.  Celebrate your volunteers, your planning team and all that God did during the week!
  • Debrief and evaluate with your team.  Talk about what worked well and what needs to be changed to make next year’s VBS even better.
  • Rest!  You deserve it for a job well done.


  • Power up with prayer.  As the days become busier and the details are far too many to count, spending time with the Lord in prayer helps you stay focused on what’s most important.  Encourage your team and volunteers to pray throughout also by providing a prayer list for them to pray through together.

Keep the conversation going!  What would you add to this list?  Share your ideas below!

Wilderness Escape VBS: Day 5 (To God Be the Glory)

Well friends, our VBS ended last Friday.  The end of VBS is always bittersweet but we had a good week.  There were so many ways that I saw God working but I’ll share just a few:

Our volunteers were rock stars!  They were so ready to jump in and serve in various capacities, whether leading games, helping to keep our building safe, leading meaningful discussions, being crafty, serving snacks or making sure that our sound was up and running.  In fact, many of them took time off from work to be with us for the week.  It was great to see our volunteers come together to make the week great!

Hearing stories of meaningful conversations happening at VBS, in the car or at home were so inspiring.  Children were asking good questions and really grappling with what they saw and heard.

Seeing children worship was great!  They were not only singing, they were worshiping.  I know that God was pleased.

Here are a few pictures from Day 5:

Our thank-you gift to our fabulous family leaders (A Pinterest-inspired idea)
Our thank-you gift to our fabulous family leaders (A Pinterest-inspired idea)
Our family leaders made VBS s'more fun!
Our family leaders made VBS s’more fun!


All week, our children were asked to bring in food for a local food pantry we support.  Humphrey the Camel liked what we collected. :)
All week, our children were asked to bring in food for a local food pantry we support. Humphrey the Camel liked what we collected. 🙂

Day 5 also included taking down much of our decor so that we could prepare for our Friday night celebration service and picnic.  This was the first year that we held our closing worship service on Friday night – we usually hold it on the Sunday following in lieu of our ‘normal’ worship services – but because of our church’s core values is connecting, we wanted a way to connect families to each other as well as to their child’s leaders.

The service lasted approximately 40 minutes and highlighted many of the songs the children learned in addition to a special visit from ‘Moses’.  Our picnic (complete with inflatables, games, prizes and food) was a great ending to the day.  Seeing families connect was a beautiful thing.

All in all, when I think back to the week, the two words that come to mind are grace and beauty.  I described grace earlier in the week (you can read that here) but here’s how it was beautiful.

Seeing inter-generational ministry happening is one way that our VBS is unique.  Seeing teens serve with older members of our congregation is one of the strengths of our program.  Because of this, our VBS is something that seems to rally our entire church like no other event.

Seeing our staff come together and support our VBS makes me grateful to serve alongside my colleagues.  Every department in our church made a contribution to our VBS.  It truly is an all-church, all-staff endeavor.

Seeing the giftedness within our congregation makes me thankful that God makes us all different.  Some have a knack to make things pretty; some are extremely organized; some are fun-loving; some are deeply passionate about seeing children learn about God in a Bible-based environment and want us to keep the main thing the main thing.  VBS is truly a collaboration of gifts and talents.

Seeing the Holy Spirit move in the hearts of our children reminds me that despite all of our efforts, it is the Holy Spirit who prompts children to be receptive to the message of the Gospel.  We want children who don’t know Jesus to accept His free gift of salvation and we want children who know Him to know and love Him more.

I am truly thankful to my fabulous team who worked so hard and tirelessly to make it a fabulous week.  Once we all recover, we’ll celebrate! 🙂  To God be the Glory!

“I will bless the Lord who guides me.”

Psalm 16:7

Wilderness Escape VBS: Day 4 (Cheering on the Team)

In my experience with VBS, Day 4 (Thursday) is usually the hardest day, but with God’s help and supernatural strength, we made it! (Read about Day 1 hereDay 2 here, and Day 3 here.)

By Thursday, I usually feel like I’ve been hit by a ton of bricks.  I know that many of our volunteers feel the same way. so we usually try to be very intentional in keeping momentum going with volunteers who might be growing weary.  Here’s what we did today to fuel and re-energize the team:

We asked volunteers to arrive 30 minutes earlier so that they could enjoy a light breakfast (bagels, coffee and juice) with us. We then made a few important announcements before leading the troop in a pep rally.  I recruited one of our more energetic leaders to lead us in an energizing chant, complete with noisemakers!  It was awesome!

We also began assembling gifts for volunteers.  Our craft team leader assembled these gifts for her team:

Contents of these small tokens of appreciation: toilet tissue tube wrapped with paper, a tea light candle, a mint and chocolate kisses.
Contents of these small tokens of appreciation: toilet tissue tube wrapped with paper, a tea light candle, a mint and chocolate kisses.


The finished product and a note
The finished product and a note


We are all exhausted but we’re hearing stories of life-change and it makes it all worth it!

Verse for the day:

” ‘For I am with you and will save you,’ says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 30:11