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JBLM children’s camp helps bring Bible stories to life

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:34PM July 17th, 2014

Biblical characters Moses and Miriam helped around 150 children, ages 5-12, explore what life was like in biblical times during the Wilderness Escape Vacation Bible School event at the Lewis Main Chapel July 14-18.

Among other characters at the event, Tim Greer (dressed as Moses) said he’s been volunteering at the event for years and was once a youth minister at the chapel.

Greer said the event brings the Bible to life.

Simon Fox, 9, said this is his second year attending the event, and he likes its interactive approach.

“I think the characters are mainly for the younger kids, but it’s still really cool they have that going on here,” Fox said

Greer said both Catholics and Protestants attended the event, so it shows “we can share our faith instead of always focusing on our differences.”

“It also brings the military community together,” Greer said. “When we gather together, we become stronger.”

Although Greer has played other characters in past events, he said Moses is one of his favorites.

“It’s a familiar character, and when the little kids hug me, you can see it in their eyes — the Bible is coming to life for them,” Greer said.

Carriann Lane, who played Miriam (Moses’ sister) in the event, said this is her fourth year volunteering.

“I don’t believe the lord is going to help — I’m the complainer,” Lane laughed, referring to Miriam’s demeanor in the Bible. “I love story-telling and the kids really get involved and engaged in it.”

Eight-year-old Jenna Hagee said this was her first time coming to the event, and her favorite part was making sandals.

“I also liked (story time), when we went through the mist with Moses as the ocean separated,” Hagee said. “I want to come back next year.”

Lane said the event is a great time for parents to get a break “by essentially dropping their kids off at a camp.”

“I did that with this event when I was a mom of young children, and it was nice to get a break during the day, ... especially for moms who have husbands deployed,” Lane said.

Volunteer-driven

Lane emphasized the large role volunteers’ play in the event each year.

“Since this is a free event put on by the chapel, it’s a lot of work and money,” Lane said.

The event has been ongoing for 60-plus years.

Specialist and chaplain assistant William Rogers said this year was his second time participating.

He said for five days kids learn about Bible stories, create crafts, see animals at the petting zoo and play games. Food is also provided.

“We just like to get the kids pumped up,” Rogers said. “Parents come and see the kids having fun. It gets the parents into church, provides positive role models and encourages volunteers.”

There were different activities and crafts each day.

“Some activities they do, such as making butter for the next day, shows how they can reap benefits from actions – everything ties into the Bible to reinforce a point or purpose behind something,” Rogers said.

Last year, Rogers said the event had about 500 children, this year it was significantly lower, at around 150 children, because of fewer volunteers.

Part of the reason is a new required background check — a new security measure for volunteers.

“Some people signed up too late, before the background check could be cleared,” Rogers said. “Each group has about ten kids and two volunteers. We need a lot of volunteers to do various jobs.”

Every year the theme for the event changes, but Rogers said they tweak it if needed depending on what supplies they have.