Helping kids have fun while learning about the Bible is what local church youth leaders say vacation Bible school is all about. A variety of programs are being offered this month — and they're all free.
The fun begins Monday when Spring Hill Bible Church kicks off its "Kingdom of the Son" program for children who have completed K4 through eighth grade.
"It's a 'prayer safari' that will take place each night," said Christian education director Karen Mark George.
The program is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. daily through Friday and will teach God's principles through the Lord's Prayer. Children should arrive 15 minutes early the first night to register.
"As we teach the Lord's Prayer, we will be teaching the children some important messages about God: how he listens, how he provides, how he forgives, how he protects and how he rules," George said. "We will have three centers of activity: Safari Base Camp for Bible story and activity, the Marketplace for crafts, and the Watering Hole and Game Reserve for snacks and games."
There also will be a prize table called the Trading Post.
"It will have over 1,000 prizes that each child can purchase from with his or her VBS bucks," George said.
VBS bucks are earned for attendance, bringing a Bible, verse memorization, good behavior, participation and bringing a friend.
The church is at 15449 Spring Hill Drive, south of Brooksville. Call (352) 544-5644 or visit www.springhillbible.org online.
Children from 5 to 12 years old will be learning about "Rome and the Underground Church" from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday at Seventh-day Adventist Church, 10062 May Gold Lane, Spring Hill.
"We will be offering a snack and lunch free of charge," said Lymari Matias, "but the best of all will be the lessons."
The snacks, games and music will be representative of Roman times.
"We are trying to do this as fun as possible for the kids to enjoy and also so they can learn more about Jesus through Paul (the apostle), who is going to be our main character," Matias said.
Children may register Monday. Call (352) 799-4705.
Several churches will be using a program called "Boomerang Express: It All Comes Back to Jesus," including First Baptist Church of Weeki Wachee Acres, 8092 Toucan Trail, Spring Hill.
The program will run from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"In this one-week adventure, you will learn about having a relationship with Jesus through Bible stories, crafts, motivating music and games," said Bible school director Cindy Willis.
There will also be snacks.
Parents can register their children, age 4 through sixth grade, by calling the church at (352) 686-0747, sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the first day of the program.
Northcliffe Baptist Church, 10515 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill, will offer its "Boomerang Express" program to children age 3 through fifth grade from 8:45 a.m. to noon June 15 to 19. At 7 p.m. that Friday, there will be a Family Night presentation, where all of the children will present the "Boomerang Express: It All Comes Back to Jesus" musical.
"Vacation Bible school is a time when children from all over the neighborhood come and enjoy great crafts, fun games, awesome music and learn in an interactive way about God," said Jerri Trammel, minister to children. "They are also shown the love of God through our 130-plus volunteers."
Register online at www.northcliffeonline.org or call (352) 683-5882.
A free Family Fun Day will kick off the "Boomerang Express" program at First Baptist Church of Brooksville, 420 Howell Ave. The event begins at 10 a.m. June 13 and includes water games, entertainment and a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans and potato salad.
The city will display one of its fire engines; animal balloons and face painting will be available.
The Bible school, for children entering first through sixth grades, is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. June 15 to 19. Register at the Fun Day or come at 5:45 p.m. that Monday. Call (352) 796-6791.
The "Boomerang Express" program at Hope Community Bible Church, 13241 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, is from 9 a.m. to noon June 22 to 26 and is for children in pre-K4 through eighth grade.
Snacks and drinks will be provided daily. There will be a closing program at 7 p.m. June 26. Call (352) 686-6020 or visit www.hopespringhill.org.
Nativity Lutheran Church, 6363 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee, will have Bible school for children ages 3 to 12 from 9 a.m. to noon June 15 to 19. The program is "Discovery Canyon" and will include crafts, games and snacks. Applications may be obtained at the church office. Call (352) 597-1456.
"Avalanche Ranch" at Spring Hill Calvary Church of the Nazarene promises children 3 to 12 a "wild ride through God's Word" every Wednesday from 6 to 8: 30 p.m. June 17 through July 22.
"The great adventure starts as we saddle up and prepare to obey the teachings of Jesus," said children's pastor Alicia Thompson. "The cowpokes will enjoy 'horseplay' games, crafts, drama, music and snacks. They will also earn tickets to Chadders Wild West Theater and to buy prizes at the general store each night."
Each day, one group will star in a presentation called Spotlight Drama. The children will gather at the Sing and Play Stampede, where they will learn new songs with upbeat motions to teach them concepts about the teachings of the day.
Thompson is saving some of the best fun for the end of the program.
"We will saddle up real horses the last week for a special adventure," she said.
The church is at 235 Cobblestone Drive, Spring Hill. Call Thompson at (352) 397-5197 or the church at (352) 683-0587.
At Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 200 Mount Fair Ave., Brooksville, children will become "Amazon Outfitters."
There will be snacks, games, music and crafts.
"It's going to be a lot of fun — dynamic and uplifting — and it will develop their relationship with the Lord," said program director Robin Gray. "We will be going on an exciting expedition in the Amazon rain forest. On our travels we will discover that God is an amazing creator, a miraculous provider, a powerful healer, a living savior and Lord of all."
The program is for children ages 4 through fifth grade and is from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 22 to 26. Parents may register children at the church or online at www.fepcb.org. Call (352) 796-4969.
Spring Hill Baptist Church, 3140 Mariner Blvd., will host "Polar Extremes: All of Me, All-out for God" for children ages 3 through rising sixth-graders from 9 a.m. to noon June 22 to 26. Registration will take place at 8:30 a.m. June 22.
"We're excited about our VBS program," said Doug Shelton, minister of youth. "It's a great way for children to have fun, meet friends and learn about God."
Shelton said his church tries to create an environment that teaches children that God is more than someone they hear about in Bible stories.
Students will do this through using the Bible, playing games, doing crafts, singing and watching dramas and puppet shows "in a fun and safe environment."
Snacks will be served daily. Call (352) 683-5685.