Any adult who attended Vacation Bible School as a child or teen knows that it breaks the monotony of a long summer vacation. It's a time of camaraderie and creative activities that relates to and teaches the Bible. Teens present a unique set of challenges to the Vacation Bible School teacher. You must keep the teens entertained and occupied with age-appropriate activities at all times or face a high dropout rate.
On a Roll
Start the first day with a funny ice breaker for teens. Divide the class into groups seated at tables. Hand out a roll of toilet paper to each table. Tell students that each person takes the amount of toilet paper he needs and passes the roll to the next person, but don't elaborate any further than that. If asked what it's for, tell them just to follow directions. When every person has toilet paper, instruct them to go around the table telling one fact about themselves for every sheet of toilet paper they took. Examples: "My name is Ron Jones. I play football. I like strawberry ice cream." Those who chose a lot of toilet paper get stuck telling the most about themselves.
Students make prayer journals on the first day of Vacation Bible School. Precede this with a lesson on the power of prayer. Explain how research shows that when many people are engaged in praying for an outcome, it often gets answered. Hand out lined composition paper and white construction paper. Students decorate the construction paper for the outside of the journal. Give them suggestions on how to decorate their journal, incorporating Bible or spiritual themes. For instance, they could write their favorite Bible verses or draw their favorite Bible characters. Each day, make time for the students to write a prayer for themselves or someone else. Tell them that praying for material items such as an expensive new car for themselves is not acceptable, but if they really need transportation to get back and forth to school, they could pray for a car of any kind to do the job. Praying for a car that gets their mom back and forth to work is also acceptable. Encourage them to make nonmaterial prayers, and ask them to give examples of these prayers. Take this activity a step further by having them share their prayers and praying for one another. On the last day of Vacation Bible School, everyone shares the prayers that got answered.
Helping Younger Children
Work with the younger children in Vacation Bible School Class. Most teenagers enjoy helping little kids with their projects. Make arrangements for your class to help out in the younger kids' class once a week for an hour. The little kids like this too. Start this with a lesson on service to others. The teacher in that class will appreciate the help on the more demanding projects, such as art.
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