VBS Geek of the Week

I am so excited to tell you about the VBS Geek of the Week! Our team first met Hye-Jung Yun (PJ) last year at the Nashville VBS Preview. PJ flew all the way from South Korea to get a sneak peek at the Big Apple! The team has kept in contact with PJ over the last several months and have grown to love her as one of our own, so naturally we knew she had to get the prestigious VBS Geek of the Week title. I hope you are as inspired by her love for VBS as we have been.

How did you get involved in VBS?

I got involved in VBS 2010 which was our first VBS. It was planed by my senior pastor (Dr. Young Min Pee) who is a friend of Dr. Charles Lowry the Reach Missions Director. I served in an English Sunday School so I learned about the camp & the minister whom I worked with wanted me to be a part of it. And I was more than glad. When we first started, I served as  full time staff and I became a HUGE fan of VBS!!  Your methods, approaches, all the crafts & decoration ideas. As a language teacher (I’m teaching Korean to the speakers of other languages.), I just couldn’t help myself to become a fan.   And I really wanted to learn from you how to have  better VBS. Then Debbie Heck, who is a Camp Reach teacher & a kinder & decorations expert of VBS, told me that you have  preview events and she invited me over. 

How do you use VBS to teach kids in Korea about Jesus?

In Korea, English eduction is a great tool to approach the non Christian parents to send their kids to church. So with VBS, we designed an English camp called Camp Reach. It’s a 2 week camp, Monday-Friday, 7-8 hours a day. We teach VBS in the  morning & ESL in the afternoon. One teacher from the states, such as Debbie Heck, works with one Teaching Assistant, who is our church member and a university student. They work together so that the kids can have full understanding of the message. On the last night, we have commencement and presentation and the parents are invited to see what the kids have been learning.

PJ shared this sweet testimony about a great Saddle Ridge Ranch memory:

When we had Saddle Ridge last year there was a students whose parents were buddhist. When he got home he was singing the VBS song all day long. And the mother told the person who introduced him to the camp,  “My son is strange. He sings, God, God, God…” The boy was singing God cares.

What is your “geekiest” VBS moment?

I was asking the TAs about this, and they told me that Geeks don’t know that they are geeky. So every moment of the camp was geeky to us–staying late or sometimes sleeping at the church, etc. But the real geeky thing comes right after the camp finishes. We have what we call Post Reach (VBS) Syndrome. The two main symptoms are:

1. Thinking, “Which VBS T-shirts should I wear in the morning?” (We have a dress code for the teachers and staff during the camp and they were informed when the camp is over.) We still think about it and grin about it.

2. Sometimes it feels like I hear the VBS song while walking down the streets. last year, it was “Tumbleweed” and this year was “Why Don’t You?.”

What makes you continue to do VBS?

The messages, the methods, and all the materials and plus the feedback from the parents is amazing. Who wouldn’t want to continue?? I surrendered my life to our Lord as a missionary who educates people all over the world. So when it comes to the education, I want to learn more and more. VBS gave me another perspective on Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. It’s not only for the kids but also for youth & adults. Last summer me & some of the Camp Reach staff went a province in South Korea and they loved the Big Apple Adventure a lot! I think it’s a great tool and methods to bring kids to church. I’ll continue the VBS till God sends me to the mission fields.

Will we see you at a Preview this year? And if so, which one?

Debbie Heck invited me over again (Thank you Debbie) to the TX preview and I really hope & pray to go there. I’m so excited to be a member of the AWA Club! I need all of your prayers for my scheduling. It’s not my vacation time at school, so I need to be excused which seems a little bit hard at the moment.

Camp Reach is prepared by Team Reach & KJBC (Kangnam Joongang Baptist Church in Seoul, Korea) as early as December. Program designing starts in February and the trainings for the TAs who co-work with homeroom teachers in each classrooms starts around April.

I am sure PJ and her team would appreciate your prayers as they continue to use VBS to spread God’s message in Korea.

Foto Friday. . .VBS Logos! ! !

Hi everyone! It’s your fun-loving VBS graphic designer (who happens to love numbers as well. . .I know, I’m weird) and it’s that time of the week. . .Foto Friday!!! Why do I bring up the, “I love numbers” thing? I’m glad you asked! As Carol has stated in her “VBS By the Numbers” post, I like to check the number of views my blog posts receive and I’ve realized that my “Clip Art” post has had a lot of views! I also field a lot of calls, emails, etc about people wanting the past VBS logos.

So, I decided this week will be the VBS logos from 1997 (Good New Stampede) to 2012 (Amazing Wonders Aviation)! By the way, I have worked on every single one except Good News Stampede! My first day at LifeWay was the very first day of writer’s conference for StarQuest.


1997's Good News Stampede

1998's StarQuest

1999 Mt. Extreme


2000's Ocean Odyssey


2001's Truth Trackers


2002's Amazon Outfitters


2003's Kingdom Capers


2004's Rickshaw Rally


2005' Ramblin' Road Trip


2006's Arctic Edge


2007's Game Day Central


2008's Outrigger Island


2009's Boomerang Express


2010's Saddle Ridge Ranch


2011's Big Apple Adventure


2012's Amazing Wonders Aviation

First Official Geek of the Week – Debbie Muller

I am so excited that I get to introduce one of my Illinois friends as the First Official VBS Geek of the WeekDebbie Muller works for the Illinois Baptist State Association in Springfield, Illinois and is a MEGA VBS FAN. She got our team’s attention at previews with her custom designed VBS jewelry. (Check out that subway token bling on her ears! Debbie is the one on the right.)

Debbie's VBS Bling!

Illinois hosts one of our earliest early bird conferences and Debbie volunteers every year to get things ready… in a BIG WAY!! Jerry Wooley often comes “back to the ranch” with tales about how they outdid themselves again this year. Here’s evidence of one of his IL trips! According to Debbie, this fully operational bull ride was given to one of the IL cowboy churches after Saddle Ridge Ranch was over. I guess VBS rides again!

Ride 'em, Jerry!

I asked Debbie some questions about her passion for VBS. Here’s part of our interview:

Me: What has been your “geekiest” VBS moment?

Debbie: For Arctic Edge we borrowed a moose head and hauled it all the way across town in the back of a pick-up truck. Oh, the looks we got!! We had to work to hang the thing with moving straps, then carefully suggest that folks might not want to stand under it… just in case!

(She also had great stories about big foam medical boxes she got for free, but covered up so much of the windshield, she could hardly see out. Or driving all over Illinois with a car filled with surfboards… think about that one for a minute and it’ll hit you! Or driving down the interstate with a Ramblin’ Road Trip travel trailer in the bed of her pickup truck! She had me laughing so hard I think I disturbed all my hallway office neighbors!)

Me: What is your favorite VBS theme to date?

Debbie: That’s hard because I like them all. But, I really like Ramblin’ Road Trip because I had actually been to all those places and had pictures and stories to share.

Me: What makes you continue to do VBS year after year?

Debbie: I just love it. It’s hard to explain – it’s like chocolate, you just gotta have it! I just have that much fun with it.

Me: How would you complete this sentence? You might be a VBS Geek if …

Debbie: You can sing ALL the VBS songs. My knees still hurt when I sing “Jehovah Jireh.” I don’t do rap, but I rapped John 3:16!

Love that VBS music!

Me: Will we see you at one of the VBS Previews?

Debbie: I’m bringing a van full to Nashville! I’m helping as a volunteer in Expo! Woo hoo!

Debbie (on the right) loves takin' it to the streets!!

Debbie’s enthusiasm was contagious as she talked about past VBS experiences and the “it’ll do everything but fly” airplane her husband is building for Amazing Wonders Aviation next year. But, what really impressed me the most was her true spirit of what VBS is all about – telling kids about Jesus. Debbie not only volunteers to help with state and local training of workers, but she works!! Debbie volunteers at 3 or 4 VBS’s every summer in addition to working in her own church’s VBS. Now THAT’S passion!

Thanks, Debbie, for all you do for the Kingdom! And for saying, “Yeh-yeh-yeh-yeh- yes! to Vuh-vuh-vuh-VBS!!”

Speaking of Missionaries

Recently I introduced you to North American missionary Andrew Mann and Proof, featured missionaries in LifeWay’s VBS 2011 missions resources. Today I want to challenge you to look at VBS missions from a different perspective.

Instead of just learning about someone else God has called to be a missionary, take a moment to consider if just maybe you are the one being called.

In this video you will be introduced to young adults who accepted the call to serve as short-term summer VBS Missionaries to southern Florida. It is an amazing story of transformed lives, churches, and communities as these everyday missionaries use VBS as the vehicle to share the love of Jesus and the Gospel message. If VBS missionaries can make an impact in over 50,000 lives in Florida could they possible make an impact in your community as well? How about you? Is God calling you to be a VBS Missionary this summer to a church across town or to a neighborhood or segment of your community not typically reached by your church?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kBYM5GbtXU&w=640&h=390]

Thanks to David Moore and the Florida Baptist Convention for sharing this story and video. To learn more about ministries of the Florida Baptist Convention go to flbaptist.org

-the vbsguy

TESTIMONY TUESDAYS – a little child will lead them

One of the most rewarding aspects of working on the LifeWay VBS Team is having the opportunity to hear the great stories of lives that have been impacted through the ministry of Vacation Bible School. I’m going to use Testimony Tuesdays to pass some of these stories on to you in the hopes that you too will feel inspired to identify and tell your VBS stories. The following story first appeared in the South Carolina Baptist Convention Childhood Ministry Newsletter (www.scbaptist.org/childhood) and is being reprinted with permission.
Our church hosted Saddle Ridge Ranch VBS in June of this year; but last night, it came to fruition.  A young couple visited our church service for the very first time.  Things in their lives seemed to be falling apart.  They had even gone to the extent of consulting with a psychic to gain some insight as to why things were failing so miserably.  Then their young son told them that he had learned about Jesus in Vacation Bible School and that’s what they needed.  Last night, the first time they attended a church service, this couple surrendered their hearts to the Lord.   In a counseling session after the service, it came to light that through the leading of their child, they sought after the Lord.  Isn’t that what scripture teaches?  “…a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).  Vacation Bible School is worth the effort.   It’s been three months since the last night of VBS, and God is still doing His thing!!
North Greenville Association

(Church name withheld for privacy of persons involved)

Saddle Ridge Ranch – in MOLDOVA???

Every summer for the past four years, I have had the privilege of visiting some of my favorite people in the world, – the kids who live at the school for orphaned and abandoned children in Falesti, Moldova. My church has been doing camp in Falesti for the orphans who have no place to live for the summer for the last 6 or 7 years. This year, when we got to camp, imagine my surprise when I saw this:

I was sooooooooooooo excited to see that my friends had experienced Saddle Ridge Ranch VBS the week before we got there.  One of my favorite things was to hear sweet Catea (pictured below) yell “yeee-haw” in a southern accent. It was so cute!

I’m not 100% sure which church visited Falesti the week before our team did, but I think it was Shearer Hills Baptist Church from San Antonio, Texas. If any of you from Shearer Hills happen to read this blog, thank you for ministering to some of the most wonderful, beautiful kids I know.

Do you use your Vacation Bible School curriculum to minister to kids overseas? I would love for you to share your stories with us in the comments section.

More decorating videos!

Here’s another set of videos taken at our VBS Preview Event at Ridgecrest, NC. These are videos from the popular “Decorating in a Box”  conference.






Decorating Videos!

I’ve added some videos on our youtube channel (http://youtube.com/lifewayvbs) that were taken at the VBS Preview Event at Ridgecrest, North Carolina that show the creators of the sets featured in our VBS catalog talking about how they created the sets.


Bible Study Bunkhouse:


Mustang Mountain:


Campfire Creek:


Blazing Star Stables:


Big Sky Grill:


Firefly Cavern:


Craft tips for 2010

Thanks to Lynn Jordan (our wonderful craft tester – she tests all of our craft suggestions with kids) for sharing these tips that should help as you plan your crafts rotation for 2010!
Day 1
Branded Magnet
Time: 9-11 minutes
♦ Use aluminum cookie sheets.
♦ Use 3 layers of heavy foil in a frame.
♦ Remind the kids to use large, simple designs for their brands.
♦ Make sure self-adhesive magnetic strip is not placed over any holes.
♦ Canning or juice lids may be used with a hammer and nail.
Kids say: “I liked it a lot”, “Hard, but fun”

Wrangler Door Hanger
Time: 9-12 minutes
♦ You might consider a pre-cut foam or wooden door hanger as an option.  Pictures could be attached to the front with rope glued around to frame.
Kids say:  “Love it”, “Easy”,  “Fun”, “This just wasn’t fun to me” (5th grader)

Leather ID Band – Favorite for Day 1
Time: 12-17 minutes
Kids say:  “Fun” “Too hard” (1st grader), “It was a cool craft.”

Day 2
Bible Saddle Bag
Time:  15-20 minutes
♦ Faux leather appointment book covers or wallpaper samples could be less expensive options.
Kids say:” I’ll put this on my Bible.”

Campfire Memo Pad
Time:  19-22 minutes
♦ Red, orange and yellow tissue paper can be used to make the flame on the fire.  You can cut out multiple shapes at a time or just let kids use a 3- by 3-inch square and shape into a flame before gluing.
♦ We also tried real sticks instead of the paper cut outs. They needed tacky glue. Children can paint over their campfire with the Mod Podge® glue to give it the decoupage look.
Kids say:  “Very easy.” “I liked it a lot.” “Cool.”

Buckaroo Bandanna – Favorite for Day 2
Time:  11-18 minutes
♦ When you glue the bubble wrap around the tube leave a little of the tube at each end to provide handles.
♦ Cut squares from inexpensive cloth.
Kids say:  “I loved it!” “Very, very fun.”

Day 3
Hobby Horse Pencil Topper
Time:  9-11 minutes
♦ Be sure the glue is dry before you put the topper on a pencil.
♦ Remind the kids to hold the end of the twine while they pull the needle through.
♦ Use wooly yarn for younger kids.
Kids say: “I love it!” “My Grandmother is the only one in our family who knows how to knit.”  “Tell the teachers to use soft needles.”

ABC Dangler
Time:  15-20 minutes
♦ Use die-cut circles, adjusting the size if necessary.
♦ Remind kids that the holes are top and bottom, not left and right.
NOTE:  This test identified a problem with our craft instructions (incorrect twine length) that was updated in the curriculum – These comments were made about the craft before the twine length was corrected:
Kids say:  “This was the worst craft in the history of the world!!” “I didn’t like this craft at all.”

Starry Switch Cover – Favorite for Day 3
Time:  13-17 minutes
♦ Colored letters are easier to see to peel them off.
♦ Don’t press letters too firmly.
♦ Black switch plates can be ordered if you want to skip the spray paint step. Local electricians can order them wholesale for about 25 cents each.
Kids say:  “Really fun.” “I enjoyed it a lot.”, “Awesome!” “Very, very, very…fun!”

Day 4
Ranch Hand Reminder – Kid’s favorite for Day 4
Time: 7-10 minutes
♦ It was very difficult for the children to make the coils of wire.
♦ Star-shaped paper clips would be another option.
Kids say:  “Easy.”  “OK.”

Belt Buckle Mouse Pad
Time: 14-23 minutes
♦ Each buckle needs a whole sheet of foam.
♦ Foam markers don’t work on the glittered foam.
♦ Remind the children not to pull the cord too tight.
Kids say:  “I liked this a lot.”

Cowboy Confetti Bible Marker
Time: 7-9 minutes
♦ Use clear packing tape instead of contact plastic.
♦ Let the kids put the confetti on the adhesive, then place the bookmark on top.
♦ Trim edges instead of turning excess to the back.
Kids say:  “Awesome!”

Day 5
Cricket Caller  - Kid’s favorite for Day 5
Time:  6-11 minutes
♦ Wooden beads were pretty irregular, and some skewers are thicker than others.  Some beads wouldn’t fit over the skewer.
♦ Pony beads also worked.
Kids said:  “Very, very easy.” “I liked it.” “Easy and I liked it a lot.”

Saddle Ridge Memory Book
Time:  12-15 minutes
♦ The star-shaped brad didn’t work well.
♦ Bind the memory book using a stick and elastic band.
Kids said: “Not the best, but fun.” “Dumb.” (2nd grade boy) “Easy, but not fun.”

Tin Punch Lanterns
Time:  8-10 minutes
♦ Cut before painting.  The pliers and snips scrape the paint off.
♦ Water bottles were really hard for the children to punch & have a bump in the bottom that won’t allow the tea light to sit flat.
♦ We couldn’t get anyone to confirm if the spray paint was flammable or not.
Kids said:  “I liked it.” “I love it!” “Way too hard.” (1st grader)  “Hard, but fun.”

Ideas for making your own milking cow

For the VBS preview events in January, we were able to borrow a wooden milking cow that we used in the VBS Expo.

Our cow was cut from plywood – there were four pieces that were slotted to fit together.

On the inside of the cow, a square wooden brace was screwed to two sides of the calf. Four holes were drilled in the bottom of a pink plastic bucket and 4 calf-feeder teats were rubber cemented into the holes. (Make sure that your rubber cement will glue plastic to rubber!) We filled the bucket with a solution of water and powdered milk, placed the bucket in the brace, and had ourselves a milking cow!

Emilie on our LifeWay VBS facebook page found these directions for making a wooden milking cow.

Sorry we don’t have a pattern or more pictures – mine were lost in a hard drive crash! But many of you got great pictures of the cow – in fact, if you have some pics of how it was put together, could you send them to me at lifewayvbs@gmail.com? Of if anyone has already made a pattern of the cow that they would like to share with everyone, please send it to me at lifewayvbs@gmail.com.


Thanks to Allie for sending some pictures of the cow for me to post. I still don’t have a pattern, so if anyone has one to share, send it on!


Here’s a little video I found that might help a bit with making the cow – it was taken at our VBS preview event in January at Ridgecrest!