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Children and teens love to play on an obstacle course. It is a great way to exercise and enjoy friendly competition. But at a vacation Bible school, all of the activities should center on the love of God. A basic obstacle course can easily become a spiritual lesson with a few changes to the game.

Layout the basic plan for your obstacle course. This step may seem unnecessary, but it will save you frustration later because you won’t run out of space while you are building the course. Use masking tape to mark off the route the course will follow. Incorporate the church’s floor plan in your layout, including having the kids climb over or under the pews, running across the stage or any other parts of the church that would make a fun obstacle. Mark the places where you will add other obstacles to the course.

Build each obstacle for your course. Since you are building this at a church, you may want to consider using elements that are commonly found around the church. Stack piles of hymnals for the kids to jump over. Use the baptismal or choir robes to create a tent or tunnel. Set up collection plates in a hopscotch-like pattern that must be hopped over. Add some fun elements like a climbing wall, a balance beam or a hula hoop tunnel.

Present the obstacle course to the children at VBS. Begin your presentation by showing them a back packand a pile of weighted objects—hardcover books wrapped in plain paper work well. Ask the children to call out some sins they can think of and write them on the weighted objects. Use sins such as “disobeying parents” and “lying.” Stuff the objects into the backpack. Then ask the children to list some things they worry about. Write these worries down on the weights, and add them to the bag as well.

Allow each child to run the obstacle course wearing the backpack. Time them on how long it takes to complete it, if they are able to complete it at all.

Ask the children to sit back down and teach them about Matthew 11:30, when Jesus says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Explain that with his help, they get through all of the hard times in their lives much easier because they are not carrying the heavy burdens of sin, sadness and depression.

Allow each child to run the obstacle course again, this time without the backpack and weights. Time them again, and let them see how much faster they ran the course without the heavy burden. Remind that this is the way life is when they cast their cares on Jesus, rather than carrying them around themselves.