HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Editor’s note: Last names are being withheld due to operational requirements.
Children sit crisscrossed upon linoleum flooring, beneath the fluorescent lighting of Holloman Middle School’s cafeteria. They sit in nervous anticipation, with white tube socks pulled high, just at or below their knees.
With a mic in hand, a volunteer wearing a neon t-shirt stands before the intermingled crowd of children and volunteers.
At the sound of the command “Go!” the anxious group morphs into a frenzy of sock-hungry thieves.
Cotton flies, and laughter fills the cafeteria, as children and volunteers lunge across the floor, with arms stretched wide, and try to grasp the sock of the victim nearest to them.
This game is just one of the many fun and innovative activities offered to children at Holloman Chapel’s vacation bible school.
VBS is an annually held, week-long children’s program. It is one of the many religious services provided by the base chapel to accommodate people of all faiths.
“The program has been running for years,” said Leslie, the Protestant Religious Education Director at the base chapel. “This is my second year. Last year I was a volunteer, and this year I’m the Protestant Education Director. The main goal of the program is to bring these children to Christ, to have them learn about Jesus in a safe and fun environment, and to hopefully foster new disciples.”
The program’s success relies upon volunteer aid and the support of the base community. This year VBS employed the help of over 60 Airmen and community members, many of whom regularly attend the base chapel.
“I have a three-year old daughter and she is not yet old enough to be in the VBS program,” said Meka, a VBS volunteer who helped to prepare and serve the children their morning snacks. “But, I like the social environment, and most importantly, getting to learn about Jesus. I think it’s a good learning experience for them; to learn about God’s love with other children.”
The theme for this year’s program is Cave Quest, which aims to teach children the importance of building a “rock-solid” relationship with God. Each day, children rotate through various activity stations where they are able to perform hands-on activities.
“Each day is different, we go to the same stations everyday but we’re not doing the same thing from day-to-day,” said Teresa, the Catholic Religious Education Coordinator at the base chapel. “Bible adventures is where they get the bible story aspect of [things], and I think that they look forward to that. Like today we walked on water. They’re going to remember that interaction: riding in the boat, walking on the water.”
All in all, VBS is an interactive program that provides religious education to young children in a fun and safe manner.
“My favorite part is seeing their faces when we have a really cool activity, or there’s a science experiment, or even a game,” said Sanchez. “Just their laughter. Knowing that everything that is good is coming from Christ and that the lessons are coming full circle. They’re learning a lesson, and they’re doing an activity that correlates, and it really drives the point home.”