What to Know About Vacation Bible School for Kids

A picture of kids singing at Vacation Bible School
Vacation Bible School is a week of fun, games and craft. And it's usually free. Photo © Christopher Futcher / Vetta / Getty Images

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a ministry outreach churches provide to educate children about God. Each church runs its own Vacation Bible School program but may use a purchased religious curriculum in its teachings.

To get more help on finding the right kids' summer camps, you can read the Summer Camp Guide.

What Is VBS?

VBS is a nationwide program many churches offer. The purpose is to incorporate themed activities that entertain kids with the chance to learn about God.

Vacation Bible School is an easy way to get kids involved in church while giving you the opportunity to meet the people within the church too.

Church membership is not required to participate. VBS lasts about five weekdays in the summer. Children attend around three to four hours each day.

Vacation Bible School teachers are church staff as well as church members volunteering their time. Many of the church members helping out with VBS are parents too.

Vacation Bible School Themes and Activities

Many VBS programs choose one theme for the week. They use this theme to creatively adapt it to lines from the Bible.

Sample themes kids may experience at Vacation Bible School include:

  • Beach party
  • Environment
  • Jungle
  • Road trip
  • Science
  • Shipwreck
  • Space
  • Superhero
  • Western

A typical day at Vacation Bible School may include:

  • Prayer
  • Bible stories
  • Arts and crafts
  • Games
  • Skits
  • Songs
  • Puppet shows
  • Sports activities
  • Snack breaks
  • Team lessons
  • Character-building activities

Age Range

Preschoolers up to high school age children may benefit the most from Vacation Bible School.

Age guidelines vary from church to church with many focusing on the elementary school ages.

Some also offer free childcare for volunteers who have children too young to attend VBS.

Benefits

  • Children learn about religion through fun, age-appropriate activities.
  • Life lessons help every child learn how to be a good person and a friend to others.
  • Perfect for younger children to get a feel for camp without having to go away overnight.
  • Kids meet new friends who share their beliefs.
  • You don't have to be a church member to attend VBS.

Costs

There are many free summer programs for kids. Most Vacation Bible School programs are too. Some do charge a small fee, which usually covers snacks and craft supply costs. T-shirts and CDs featuring the songs learned that week may also be offered for an additional fee.

Volunteering for Vacation Bible School

Churches begin preparing for Vacation Bible School almost immediately after the current year's session ends. Volunteers are always welcome, even up to the day VBS begins.

You can help with snacks, crafts, childcare at the church, registration, setting up, breaking down, storytelling, coordinating other volunteers and more. If you prefer a hands-off approach, churches also ask for donations of household items, such as used toilet paper rolls or popsicle sticks, for some of their crafts or decorations. Call your local church to find out what their needs are so you can help with VBS.

It may also help for you to attend VBS if your child is attending—your child may find that they are extra comfortable with you there, especially if this is their first camp experience.

Finding a Vacation Bible School

Most churches run their own Vacation Bible School programs. If the church you are interested in is not holding its own VBS, the church secretary can usually provide a list of other churches in your area who are holding VBS.

You can also check newspapers, local magazines, message boards, and the church's website. Vacation Bible School dates, registration info, and fees (if any) can typically be found through these resources as well.

Why You May Consider Sending Your Child to VBS

Vacation Bible School could be a wonderful opportunity for kids to socialize and learn more about religion in a relaxed setting. VBS has something for everyone, despite each person's religious views.

While activities are centered around teaching kids about God, VBS combines fun and learning without the formality of a Sunday service. Local churches will be happy to talk to you about what you can expect from their particular Vacation Bible School.

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