By Sarah Whitman
Summer vacation is just around the corner. For some, it’s already started. Parents looking for something fun for their kids to do this summer may want to look into one of the vacation bible schools in their area. Local churches are busy planning and preparing for an exciting VBS season. Each school offers something unique at an affordable cost or free of charge.
Heritage Christian Center, 21418 Carson Dr. in Land O’ Lakes, will put on its first ever vacation bible school this year. Hero Headquarters, an event where kids join forces with God to become everyday heroes, is scheduled for June 21 to 25. Volunteers will work with kids to convey a valuable message.
“We’ll be learning about different less-known characters in the Bible who were heroic and teaching the children how they can step up and become heroes in their own lives,” said Deanna Porter, Heritage youth pastor.
The event is $5 per child and open to ages 5 to 11. The kids will learn through play and also have time just to cut loose.
“There will be fun, games and snacks,” said the pastor’s wife Natalie Bamberry. “It’s a great way for kids to see that learning about God is fun.”
More fun is just down the road. Myrtle Lake Baptist, 2017 Riegler Road in Land O’ Lakes, invites kids to saddle up for Saddle Ridge Ranch, a vacation bible school themed after the old west. The school runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon June 14 through 18 and is also open to children grades Kindergarten through 6. Kids will have Bible study, worship, playtime, crafts corner and music time.
According to Myrtle Lake event manager John Berti, the event will help kids answer questions like, “What is God’s plan for me?” and “How can I be like Jesus?” in a care-free environment.
First Baptist Church of Land O’ Lakes, 5105 School Road, will offer two summer programs. SeaQuest: Diving for God’s Treasure, an event for elementary school kids, is from 9 a.m. to noon June 21 through 25. The Truth Alive, an outdoor competition event for teens, will take place at the same time. Both events are free.
“We’ve been doing vacation bible school for more than 20 years,” said church secretary Sharon Booth. “What makes our program unique is that we offer something for older kids too.”
In Lutz, Van Dyke Church, 17030 Lakeshore Road, is offering a sports camp for kids June 20 through 24. The camp will be divided so there is a 4-year-olds program, a 5-year-olds program, an elementary program and a special needs program. Sports offered include football, soccer, softball, cheerleading, gymnastics, karate, baseball, hockey, basketball and volleyball. For kids less into sports, art, sewing and chess classes will be offered indoors. The cost to register is $50.
“It’s a high energy camp that teaches kids to give their best to God and give their best in everything they do,” said children’s minister Bryce Du Mont.
In Eastern Pasco, Victorious Life Church, 6224 Old Pasco Road in Wesley Chapel, is making costumes and getting ready for Toy Stories, a vacation bible school themed after the hit film “Toy Story.” This one-of-a-kind event is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. July 19 through 23. It is free, snacks and all.
“There are a lot of pre-packaged vacation bible schools out there but for the last couple years we’ve been writing our own,” said children’s pastor John Formby. “We’ll have skits with costumed characters Buzz, Woody and Mr. Potato Head. We’re also having a contest where the kid who brings the most visitors will win a family 4-pack to Disney.”
To finish the summer, Zephyrhills First Nazarene Church, 6151 12th St. in Zephyrhills, will host a late-season children’s bible camp August 2 through 6.
“Vacation Bible School gives kids something fun to do that’s different than their normal summer routine,” children’s pastor Laura Barker said. “It gives them a safe environment to go to.”
For information or to register, call Heritage Christian Center, (813) 909-4080; Myrtle Lake Baptist, (813) 949-5516; First Baptist Church of Land O’ Lakes, (813) 996-2651; Van Dyke Church, (813) 968-3983; Victorious Life Church (813) 973-2230 and Zephyrhills First Nazarene Church, (813) 782-7032.
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