If the academic school year is for reading, writing and arithmetic, then spring/summer is routinely set aside for Vacation Bible School.
On Monday, more than 500 youth and volunteers spent time at Irwin Intermediate School internalizing this year’s VBS theme — “Kingdom Rock: Where Kids Stand Strong for God.”
VBS is coordinated by Fort Bragg’s Garrison’s Chaplains Office with an important message for youth.
“There’s religious freedom for all of the kids, so we’re trying to do on post what a lot of kids would have done if they were off post,” said Chaplain (Col.) Ran Dolinger, Fort Bragg Garrison chaplain. “We’re trying to build community and resilience. The theme is stand strong, so they (youth) can find strength in community. They can find strength in God and they can overcome the things that they need to overcome.”
Some of the activities used to reinforce the ‘stand strong’ theme included a theater, art room, gaming area and snack time, Dolinger said.
For instance, Monday’s game consisted of youth taking a sponge from a water bucket, passing it through a relay line and squeezing the water into another bucket.
“(It teaches) you can’t give what you don’t have; you have to take it in order to be able to share it with someone else,” explained Dolinger.
It was a game that Gabriella Rodriguez, a Fort Bragg Family member, seemed to enjoy.
“I’m having fun from getting wet,” she said.
What lesson has Gabriella learned about standing strong?
“It’s teaching us how much God loves us,” she said.
Youth said many ways of showing Christ’s love in their everyday lives is by helping others, smiling, giving food and helping the poor.
VBS teachers Kelly Croom and Jodi Billquist, both Army spouses, manned the Chadder’s Theater room.
The idea is that youth are supposed to “watch for God around them — we call those God sightings,” said Croom.
Each youth who comes through the theater is given a wristband that reads, “Watch for God,” and a dog tag with a scripture written on back. Each dog tag can be scanned as an app to gather more information about standing for God.
Soo Jin, another Army spouse, attended Monday’s session with her daughter, Jade, 12.
She said they took part in Bible school to learn about faith and to get closer to God.
Gabrielle Gonzalez, 8, agreed.
“I like that we are learning about God. I learned that God always loves us no matter what,” said Gonzalez, a rising third-grader. “We are all learning teamwork, and working together — that’s what God really wants us to do,” she said.
For more information on religious activities on Fort Bragg, visit www.bragg.army.mil/directorates/chaplain/pages/default.aspx.