Late June and early July are the beginning of deep summer, and all across the country there is the promise of swimming pools, watermelon, and fireworks. In northern Virginia, a team of part- time missionaries from several local churches is finalizing plans for an annual trip to Eagle Butte, South Dakota. This team will be joined by other missionaries from other areas of the United States to conduct an annual outreach to the people of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. This outreach will be to the entire community. It will include as its central activity a Vacation Bible School, primarily focused on elementary age children. It will also include activities for young teens, older teens, as well as adults.
The host organization for the program is the First Baptist Church of Eagle Butte, under the leadership of Pastor Ben Farrar. Over the last fifteen years First Baptist and its congregation have offered Vacation Bible School week, which has become a regular and much anticipated event. Windswept Academy, located just one block from First Baptist, is a full partner in the outreach, and will make its grounds and facilities available for several of the event activities. Members of the Windswept Academy staff will also participate in the festivities.
Setup this year will begin with a flurry of activity on Saturday, the Fourth of July, as missionary team members prepare classrooms and grounds, erect the carnival sized tent provided by the Baptist Heartland Association, and get everything in place for preparation of food for attendees. Plans and lists will be checked and rechecked to insure that nothing has been missed and that the action will go smoothly.
Sunday after church, final preparation for the traditional kickoff activity – a block party – will take place. Moon bounces will be inflated, snow-cone and popcorn machines turned on, tables and chairs set up, and outdoor gas grills tested. At 4:00 p.m. the festivities will begin. There will be games, music, fellowship, a picnic dinner, and a general welcome in the church yard.
Every day of the following week, Monday, July 6 through Friday, July 11 will be filled with activities for community members of all ages.
Vacation Bible School for elementary aged children will begin with registration from 10:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. An early lunch will follow registration to feed the hungry young ones.
After lunch, all the children will gather for a worship rally beneath the big tent. Then will come a full range of games, crafts, music, and Bible stories and lessons in faith.
Young teens will be given opportunities to participate special activities under First Baptist Church’s Off-The-Wall Program. Daily Off-the-Wall activities will include art lessons, games, devotionals and music, and an opportunity to win a day trip to the big city (Pierre).
Older teens will be invited to participate in Basketball Camp, which will be held this year in the Upper Elementary School Gym in Eagle Butte. The program will begin each evening Monday through Thursday at 6:30 PM. The agenda will include instruction, drills and scrimmages. Former college and professional basketball player Jonathan Toombs will again lead Basketball Camp. The action in the gym will be followed by a time of fellowship and witness plus snacks in First Baptist’s Fellowship Hall. An extension of Basketball Camp will be morning missions to Cherry Creek to engage the teens in that community in similar basketball related activities. It also includes utilizing time off the court to build trust and share Christ with them and help integrate Christianity into their lives.
No one will be forgotten! Each evening at 6:00 p.m. interested adults will be provided with dinner in the Fellowship Hall, followed at 6:30 p.m. by a time of Bible Study in the church sanctuary. Adult Bible Study will conclude at 8:00 p.m.
On Friday, July 11, the parents and guardians of the Vacation Bible School children will be invited to a celebration of the conclusion of the program.
Beginning at 2:00 p.m., Pastor Farrar will extend a welcome to the attendees and provide introductions and a kickoff to the event. This will be followed by singing and videos of the highlights of the program.
Each class will then present shows and skits that summarize their accomplishments of the week. The grand finale will be a dinner on the grounds, featuring food from the grill.
At the end of the day, after conclusion of the meal, the mission team will perform take-down and packing, and the final clean- up tasks.
Saturday morning the missionaries will head home, trusting, hoping that the love of Jesus Christ has been extended in a meaningful way to their friends, their brothers and sisters, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.