Urban Summer Camps/VBS2 min read

Three Summer Camp/VBS programs supported by the Michigan District’s Acts 2 Enterprise Ministry, particularly the Michigan District Spring Appeal, took place this year.

Pastor Chris Bodley (L) prays alongside students at camp

Bethany, Detroit held its first Sports Camp/VBS in Detroit since the Covid Pandemic in 2020. There were 63 students in attendance, with ages ranging from 4 to 16. Bethany’s volunteers were joined by volunteers from Camp Restore Detroit, East Bethlehem, St. Philip, and Faith Outer Drive. Additionally, a Concordia University Ann Arbor graduate joined them daily, driving in from Ypsilanti.

Two of the five days of camp were extremely hot, so attendance suffered a little on those days, but on Wednesday a family of five walked by, decided to see what it was all about, and ended up joining the camp for the last three days. Along with basketball, lacrosse, cheerleading, and self-defense, favorite activities for attendees were water gun fights and archery.

Pastor Chris Jung (L) helps kids look up a Bible verse

St. Paul Community, Pontiac held a VBS program with a theme of Construction. About 35 children were in attendance, and St. Paul Community volunteers were joined by volunteers from St. John, Rochester; St. Matthew, Walled Lake; and St. Stephen, Waterford. This year, with help from the District’s A2E funds, they were able to purchase pocket Bibles to give to each child. Pastor Chris Jung taught them how to look up passages and find the verse that they all memorized during the week. The kids were excited when they learned they could take the Bibles home with them.

The Vine church plant in Walker had its first Summer Camp (VBS) since coming out of Covid protocols. They had 36 children attending and 9 volunteers, and the program was based on Science (STEM). Of the children who participated, only 10 attend regularly at The Vine on Sunday mornings. Eight more of the children are connected to the church plant through the after-school program  it hosts during the school year. Eighteen of the children who came to the STEM camp this year were brand new connections from the neighborhood and most of these are not connected with any church family.

Students in Walker show their science experiments

On the Sunday following The Vine Summer Camp week, The Vine invited the children and families to join the congregation for worship. The Summer Camp children sang two songs and they all celebrated with a picnic afterwards. Several new families came to worship. A dad from one of the new families said, “We haven’t been in a church building for 12 years. That’s when we were married. It feels good to reconnect and we will be back.” Praise the LORD!

Photos of Detroit and Pontiac’s camps by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS. Photos of Walker’s camp courtesy of The Vine.

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About the Author

Elisa is a staff writer, copy editor, and photographer for the Michigan District, LCMS.

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Craig Britton - August 24, 2022

Wow! So doggone exciting. Thanks be to God and His volunteers for the amazing successes.

Marlene Herzog - August 24, 2022

Loved reading about all of the happy details, especially those choosing to return to worship!

Joan Wagner - August 26, 2022

The VBS program at St. Paul’s also had 16 teenagers (ages 13-18) that went on service projects around the city and surrounding areas. This was the second year for our teen program and we had several returning teens. Many of our children and their families came back on Sunday as well to participate in the worship service and the church picnic afterwards.