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Children who participate in the Park City Community Church's summer Vacation Bible School day camps learn moral and spiritual principles through song and theatrics. Rev. Tracy Hausman, right, along with a guitar-playing leader from Colorado's Rainbow Trail Camp, gets ready to lead a group of campers in a song. (Photo courtesy of the Park City Community Church)
Park City offers an array of recreational summer camps for children.

Kids have the opportunity to keep healthy as they bike, hike, sail, golf, play tennis, play soccer and embark on other stimulating educational excursions when school is out.

But what if parents want their children to grow spiritually?

That's where Vacation Bible School (VBS) comes in, said Karen Ellis, children's ministry director for the Park City Community Church, a United Methodist Congregation.

The five-day camp will run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Monday, July 22, through Friday, July 26. In addition, there will be a special program on Thursday, July 25, at 6 p.m.

The program is open to all preschool-aged children who will turn four by Sept. 1 to those in the fifth grade.

"Our main goal is to help bring kids into a meaningful relationship with God and with the world around them," Ellis told The Park Record. "Our vision as a church is 'personal transformation for transforming our world.'"

To do so, Ellis offers an updated VBS that is different than the conceptions of most people.

"A long time ago, mothers, who wanted to reach out to children in the neighborhood who weren't going to church, started this program," she said. "They would have a bible lesson and a game, and that is now considered the old-school tradition of VBS.

"The one we offer, although we include some of those traditional elements, is more like a day camp," she said.


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"In our endeavor to reach more children, especially here in Park City where they have so many wonderful options, we have employed five young college students from Rainbow Trail Camp in Colorado to serve as leaders."

These students are specifically trained to lead church camps throughout the region, and they do it through song, music, art and theatrics.

"The children will come into the sanctuary first thing in the morning and we'll start off with singing and music and skits," Ellis said. "Then we'll break into three different groups that will be led by the student leaders and the groups will rotate from lessons to a game to the craft and to sessions of songs and singing."

The day will even include lunchtime entertainment.

"The reason why we wanted to have lunchtime is to give the children an opportunity to sit and listen to these leaders sing and perform more songs," Ellis said. "So, we will ask the children to bring their lunches so they can eat while watching a performance."

The VBS is a way for the youngsters to learn about church life in a way that meets them at their level in their world, she said.

"All the songs, crafts and skits are tied to the lessons of the day," Ellis explained. "The theme this year is 'Blessed to Be a Blessing,' and every day we offer different lessons and activities that are related to that theme."

Ellis has organized the Park City Community Church VBS for four years.

"Before that, I was involved in another church for many years doing the same sort of things," she said.

Ellis feels these camps are important because of the questionable influences that children see in the media and even at school.

"It's a different world than we knew as children," she said. "Kids are growing up really fast today. They are exposed to many things at younger ages than we ever were.

"Because of that, they are forced to handle things at age levels that we never did," she said. "I mean, kids younger than 12 are facing issues concerning morality and substance abuse."

Ellis wants to counterbalance those harmful influences with good ones.

"Our hope is that kids will come to our day camps and get exposed to the Bible and see how cool the leaders are," she said. "We want to help them choose wisely in their decision-making. And we hope they will take some of these ideas and teachings home and engage their families in heartfelt discussions."

Speaking of families, Ellis said she likes it when campers' parents and older family members volunteer with the VBS.

"We need them," she said. "They help us out so much."

The Park City Community Church VBS runs from Monday, July 22, through Friday, July 26. Registration is $65 per child, or $40 if a parent can volunteer. For more information, call (435) 649-8131 ext. 15 or email Karen@parkcitychurch.org.