Storm’s a’brewin’ . . .
Yep! Ranger Ed was pretty sure our Sonrise National Park VBS would need to seek shelter in the classrooms this week. The clouds were looking a bit fierce. Rumblings in the distance with sheet lightening further suggested that trying to conduct VBS activities with over 100 kids in an open field under the threat of thunderstorms could turn ugly.
Knowing Jesus as our Peace in the storms of life – that God is our shelter and strength – was to be further explored at this week’s VBS – and it would seem a storm showed up right on cue, forcing us to seek the shelter of our church building – a perfect illustration of the lesson!
Miss Brenda had planned a few special visitors for us – a SURPRISE! Gathering our camper groups together, she led everyone in prayer to start off the evening’s events.
The four-year-olds huddled with Miss Ashley showing all the reverence proper for addressing the King of kings and Lord of lords!
Ranger Chrissy’s Pine Tree Praise Center was up next, leading enthusiastic worship for ages four through twelve.
What joy to watch these littlest campers praise the Lord!
Faithful Frogs, Righteous Raccoons, and Holy Huskies followed their lead rangers to their appropriate activity centers. The Blueberry Meadow Picnic Patch was ready to feed some hungry rangers!
But, not before a little lesson about how eagles protect their young in storms by building large and strong nests high in the treetops using large sticks that may be as thick as small logs. So, too, our campers would be tasked with building an eagle’s nest out of pretzel sticks, cheese, and even little white candies as eagle eggs in the nest!
Each snack was a masterpiece of food play – and tangible lessons learned.
Glacier Bay Bible Games had the run of the main room requiring a prep by Ranger Gina and her helpers.
Plastic eggs with words printed on paper inside were hidden throughout the room and campsite setting. Campers were split into groups and assigned colors. They would have to find all the eggs in their color, crack open the eggs, remove the paper with the word, and put all the words together to discover a hidden message!
Ready! Set! GO!!! Chaos ensued as the kids made a mad dash throughout the room and campsite in search of eggs.
Once they had collected their dozen eggs, they gathered in groups, swiftly working out their puzzle . . .
Til the winning group called out the message:
And, just for a bit of silly fun – campers learned how quick they could respond when called upon to work as a team and create – in an instant – an ELEPHANT!
The 2 to 4 year old’s were also enjoying fun activities with their lessons. Miss Crystal shared the episodes of the the Bible story where Jesus calmed the storm at sea while youngsters busily colored the pictures of each scene.
But, it wasn’t until each group walked down the hall to an empty classroom serving as Fireside Frontier that they learned about the surprise Miss Brenda had promised. Ranger Ed introduced everyone to special visitor, Ranger Steve, and his daughter, Summer, from the Cape May Zoo – who brought a few critters for review.
A furry little ferret was greeted with sighs. So soft and sweet and cute . . .
But, of course, things really started hopping when a baby alligator – rescued only the day before – was lifted out of the bin!
It’s mouth was securely taped shut as protection since gators have no strength to open their mouth – only powerful jaws in gear when closing them on dinner! Youngsters reacted with delight and perhaps a bit of trepidation at the idea of reaching out and touching the exotic reptile.
It is against the law to own an alligator in New Jersey. Foolish people have abused this tropical animal by removing it from its native habitat and trying to keep it as a pet in northern climes. Once it outgrows its cuteness in an aquarium – and its grocery list becomes more challenging – these same thoughtless people will release them into the wild, wherein the alligator poses a threat to the new habitat and to itself.
Eventually, this little guy could grow to over eight feet! Thankfully, he is in the hands of professionals who will make sure it finds a proper home down south where it belongs!
Shrieks of fear and wonder erupted as Ranger Steve pulled an eight foot python snake out of another bin.
It was shedding it’s skin to the delight of our eager youngsters who swiftly sought out any little bits and pieces of skin that fell as a souvenir while our snaky friend wound his way around the room for petting –
And, wearing around the neck!
We all got in the swing of things with the latest in snake-skin-styles . . . Ranger Ed –
Ranger Gina –
Ranger Kourtney –
Pastor Russ even peeked in and took on the snake!
Fearlessly – I threw myself into the fray!
Ferrets, alligators, and snakes are all well and good. But, when Ranger Steve opened one of the small bins – Miss Kathy high-tailed it out of the room in a panic!
All I needed to see were those hairy tarantula legs – in a trice – jumping from the bin to Ranger Steve’s shirt, and I was well and gone – listening to the rumpus left in the room from the comparative safety of the other side of a closed door!
With my friend, Ranger Nikkole – equally spooked – back when the snake had come out.
However, remembering that such a cowardly display was NOT in keeping with our Bible lesson for the evening – and it was I, Ranger Kathy, who needed to put into practice the truth that God is my PEACE – I gathered up all the Jesus in my heart that was there and bravely returned to the room – camera in hand – to record yet another gruesome creature with eight legs – an emperor scorpion.
Our good friend, Dave, showed us how to be brave . . .
For some reason, this fellow wasn’t quite so hard to take. Not nearly so creepy and quick as the tarantula – though equally evil in appearance. I could not but think how it bore – in a dark and gothic sort of way – the sort-of, kind-of image of – a warped lobster.
Now – for lobster I can muster a bit of bravery. Especially when it is grilled and served up for gourmet consumption.
But, I digress.
Thankfully, Ranger Ed, our Bible teacher, pulled all our evening adventures together, reminding us that animals always can feel when a storm is coming. God has put it in them to settle into a sheltered place within their habitat, waiting for the storm to pass. We can take a good lesson from these animals – remembering to settle into the shelter and refuge of the Lord when troubles come our way – no matter what form they take. Be they weather storms, relationship storms, health storms, job storms, school storms, spiritual storms, or what-all – God’s PEACE is always available in the middle of the storm if we run to Him.
Then, just watch and see how quickly the storm passes – as they always do . . . and the skies clear . . .
A great start to our VBS Sonrise National Park this summer – with so much more to come!!
Sharing Sonrise & Snakes this week with: