Virtual Summer Camp

Families are looking for something to fill their children’s time. This is a great time for church’s to offer them a chance to grow in faith.

If you are like us in North Carolina, most Vacation Bble Schools were canceled. Virtual VBS is still a possiblity, but many of the things that make a VBS fun and different are lost with the online version.

Offering a unique camp experience done on line, can draw families closer to God and with their church.

Creating the Camp

First, pick a popular movie for families. We chose Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but any movie will do.

Second, pick characters in the movie and come up with their moral tie-in. find Bible stories that deal with this tie-in. For Augustus Goop, I chose gluttony and then picked the Bible story of Esau giving away his inheritance (Genesis 25:29-34), Veronica Salt (self-indulgent) and chose Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke), Violet Beauregarde (rude) and chose Zechariah laughing at the angel, and so forth.

Third, find a craft kit, game, activity pages, musical videos, and on-line sources for each day.

Fourth , get youth and adults to film skits.

Fifth-order supplies, register families, and get ready for a week of fun!

Schedule of Camp

The week before, every family picks up their kit.

On the Sunday, families watch the movie together (we made sure it was on Netflix and Amazon Prime). We also included a chocolate bar with a golden ticket saying they have been chosen to join us for camp.

Monday – Friday: We start off each day with an introduction of the day. “Willy Wonka” tells us about the character, the Bible story, and a short lesson and prayer. There are links to videos to watch our youth telling or acting out the Bible story. There is a scheduled Zoom for a group game. Inside the kit is the days craft kit with instructions, links to music video, Bible cartoon of story, other activities. At 11:30 AM, we have a large group Zoom to review the morning, talk aobut the lesson, and play another game.

Outreach activities and snack activities can be included too. I, also, looked for little toys, pencils and other giveaways for each child for the story or lesson of the day.

For Later

We plan an outdoor get together for all the families that participated and will have an Eucharist when we are able to get back together safely.

Virtual Lego Ministry Night

With the COVID-19 keeping us isolated at home, a fun activity to engage our church members is a Lego Bible Night. This can be done over several nights or days.

Choose one Bible story per family involved. Have a print out of the story or a link to the story. Make each one a different story and make sure it is something that families can use to make come alive. Give or send each family their story. Include with the story or link some information/background material (what was happening, the time, a little history, etc.). Give them some discussion questions to think about. Send a prayer families can say before they start their build.

Working together, the family creates a Lego piece that shares the story. They can video tape themselves talking about the piece and retelling the story or hold a zoom meeting and each family shares with the others involved. Make sure to get pictures of the completed works, so they can be shared witht he whole parish.

After the Zoom call when all are shared, close in prayer and thank the families for sharing in this time. Families might enjoy this so much, that they would like a story a week.

Keep all the pictures and create a story book for the children or video link with all the videos.

Way of Love Home Study

Book used: The Very Best Day: The Way of Love for Children by Roger Hutchison

Discussion and activities by The Rev. Lauren Villemuer-Drenth

For more information on the Way of Love or to connect to an adult focused study or watch videos, please visit: The Episcopal Church: Way of Love

I started with an All Read on Zoom. I sent the link out and had children and their families join in with their copy of the book.

Discussion after first read of the book:

  • Which part is your favorite?  Why?
  • Have you heard of the Way of Love?  What do you think it means?
  • Do any of the book topics (Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest) not make sense?
  • Do you have one you think is more important?  Why?
  • Do you have one you do not think should be included in the Way of Love?  Why?
  • I wonder if you would add any?

For the following few weeks, every few days, do one of the following deeper dive.

Turn: Reread the first few pages.  From the book answer: “What ways do I grow when I turn towards Jesus’ love?”

Then today or in the following days. Choose one or more of the activities below:

  1. Can you think of a mistake or wrong choice you made?  How did you turn back to love (God’s way) to make it right?
  2. Play a game called, “Turn”.  Every time someone uses a directional word (down, up, right, left, etc.) throughout the day, say, “Turn to God’s love!”  At the end of the day, who caught the most?
  3. God often guides us by having us feel joy or having strong feelings about something.  How can you use that “something” to help others?  For example, if it is drawing, can you draw a picture and mail it to a fellow member of the church?  If you need help, just ask Deacon Lauren.

Learn: Reread the pages on “Learn”.  From the book answer: “How can you learn more about Jesus and his love?”

Then today or in the following days. Choose one or more of the activities below:

  1. What is your favorite Bible story?  Share it with someone else.  Make a picture book, act it out, or make a “puppet” show to share it.
  2. Watch Wednesdays’ Children’s Chapel at 9:30 AM on Facebook Live.  Which “Face of Easter” is your favorite?
  3. Read a story as a family about Jesus (example healing story, feeding story, walking on water, etc.) What parts do you like best?  If you were in the story, what would you say to Jesus?

Pray: Reread the pages on “Pray”.  From the book answer: “When do you pray?  What do you say when you talk to God?”  What is prayer for you? What do you think prayer was for the people of the Bible? Today or in the following days. Choose one or more of the activities below:

  1. Make a prayer list and pray each persons’ name during a prayer time.  Can you do this for 2 days? What about 3 days?  What about 5 days?
  2. Make a Prayer Bowl for your family.  All put their prayer request in it as they come up.  Once a day, pray the contents of the bowl.  Once a week, as a family, pull out and pray all the requests.  Then empty the bowl and start again.
  3. Did you know a hymn is a prayer?  Which is your favorite song about God?  Can you sing a prayer now?  Do it.

Worship: Reread the pages on “Worship”.  From the book answer: “What is your favorite part of worship?  Why?” What is worship for you? Today or in the following days. Choose one or more of the activities below:

  1. Join online for worship.  St. Paul’s is doing the Daily office at 8:15AM, Noon, and 5:30 PM.  Children’s Chapel (worship for children) is Sundays about 10:40AM (after 10:00 AM Sunday Morning Prayer) and Wednesdays at 9:30 AM.  All on Facebook Live.
  2. In the Lent-in-a-Bag, there is a Family Services leaflet from the “Daily Devotions for Families” from the Book of Common Prayer. Do the Morning or Early Evening Service every day for 5 days as a family.
  3. Pick a Bible story and lead your family in worship.  Use songs and prayers, too.

Bless: Reread the pages on “Bless.”  From the book answer: “You are a blessing.  Can you name the ways?” Today or in the following days. Choose one or more of the activities below:

  1. Draw a picture of yourself and add pictures or words of ways you bless others.  For a few days, at night, add ways you have blessed others to your picture.
  2. Think of someone who means a lot to you at church.  Is it a teacher? A smiling usher? Someone who shares your pew?  One of the clergy?  Write them a card or letter telling them that they have blessed you.  Mail it.
  3. Write down three ways you can bless your family over the next few days.  Do the them and think about what happened when you did them. How did it make you feel?  How did it make the other person feel?

Go: Reread the pages on “Go.”  From the book answer: “What does ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’ mean to you?”  Choose one or more of the activities below:

  1. Can you think of a way to serve others from home?  Pick one and do it!
  2. Bake or make a snack for a neighbor. Someone who does not have a lot of family close by is especially thoughtful.  Make a card to go with it.  Then deliver it to their door.
  3. Make a video telling someone how much they mean to you.  Then send it to them.

Rest: Reread the pages on “Rest.”  From the book answer: “What do you do to slow down and rest?”  Choose one or more of the activities below:

  1. Can you find a way to rest for 3 hours that does not include technology or electronic games?  Do it.
  2. We rest so we can take care of our minds, bodies, emotions, and spirit.  Either sit outside or take a walk and focus on nature and the beauty around you.
  3. Pretend you are “camping” in the living room.  Settle down in your “tent’ and share animal or other outdoor type stories.  What about roasting marshmellows in the fireplace?

Reread the whole book and ask yourself the questions at the beginning again.  Which was the hardest to do?  Which was the easiest?  Did any surprise you?  If you were going to keep one, which will you do regularly?

Summer Excitement

Summers are a lazy and relaxed time.  School is out for children and their regular activities are on hold.  For most parishes, their regular programming is on hiatus.  This gives volunteers a needed rest and allows for a renewing for the coming program year.

Unfortunately, for most parishes, this means a slowing down in attendance.  It does not have to be.  Adding some summer programs can add excitement and have children waking up on Sunday morning begging to go to church.  Last year, I added some special Sundays that really created a buzz.  This year I repeated two and switched one, to keep the excitement level up.

One of the programs was simple and so much fun.  We used the feast day of St. Paul, to have a Superhero Sunday.  We encouraged everyone to dress as a superhero.  It was so cute to see even the babies dressed in costume.  The adults, also, got into the theme.  During Children’s Chapel, I told the story of St. Paul and talked about having the super powers of faith, hope, and love.  I discussed how we can have those super powers, too.  Each child received aSuper Hero Certificate After the service, we played Super Hero games and had snacks.  We used Silly String to play Spiderman tag.  I made a hero obstacle course.  We played Kryptonite keep away, too.  Everyone loved it and the children were excited to wear their costumes to church.  Some children even made up their own super hero and costume.

Another program was a water event.  We encouraged people to dress in Hawaiian clothing.  During Children’s Chapel, I told water stories from the Bible (Noah, Jonah, Moses, Jesus Baptism, Jesus Calms the Storm, and Woman at the Well).  After the service, we played water games (children got drenched), so people were encouraged to bring swimsuits and towels.  I used a water limbo game to be the animals (had to make a sound no one else made to get into ark).  I used a slip-and-slide to slide through the Red Sea from Exodus.  We used water balloons for the Baptism and storm stories and ended with a water relay race for the woman at the well.  We had popsicles for snack.

The final program was an intergenerational event after the service.  I will discuss it in another blog.

Summer is a chance to experiment, welcome newcomers, and have fun, while sharing God’s love.  The liturgical season is green, green for growing.  We can continue to grow in our faith, even when we are taking a rest.

Click on any of the highlighted items to see what I used.  Any items purchased through this link helps to fund this site.

Church on The Go Bags


The most asked about bridge between the Sunday morning “box” and home is the Church on the Go bags.  Families of all sizes, with all different age groups, have taken, used, and loved these kits.

Based on the belief that we are the church wherever we are, Church on the Go kits build a bridge between families traveling or vacationing to their home parish.  These kits include everything needed for the family to build an altar, worship together and have fun.  Activities included are not just for Sunday worship. Included are suggestions for decorating the altar, family activities, children activities, and different types of prayer. Some activities can be done solo, like a finger labyrinth and coloring pages, while others encourage group and family time.

I put the bags together and have them in a designated spot (we use a back table) every Sunday for vacationing families.  Anyone can pick up a bag, before they go on vacation, for use while away.  I replenish the bags as needed through the summer.

By using a photo of our altar (5” x 7”), the altar the family builds reminds them that, even though they are not physically with us, they are a part of our family.  Other items included in altar bag (1 gallon bag) are tea candles, green altar cloth (Season after Pentecost) and instructions for making an altar.

The larger, Church on the Go bag, contains the altar bag, two Morning Prayer services (from the BCP), with all the choices removed (so the Venite, one psalm only, one canticle after each reading, one suffrages, and two prayers chosen.)  It also contains themes to decorate the altar and a list of readings that follow that theme (printed out so a Bible is not needed).  There are easily sing-able hymns included, too.

In addition to the Sunday worship service, the kit contains a trifold of Graces for Meals, Finger Labyrinth, coloring sheets, children bulletins with puzzles and mazes, ideas for talking and sharing points, stickers, crayons, and coloring pencils.

Instructions included are:

Church on the Go

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Instructions for Altar & Service


  1. Look over Service & choose a theme.
  2. Put together your altar
    1. Green cloth for the Season after Pentecost
    2. Candles on each side.
    3. Put up your picture of St. Paul’s altar (for the cross & to celebrate with us!)
    4. Decorate your altar by placing objects from theme suggestion.
    5. Take a picture of your altar (with family members & send to us).
  3. Pick one person to be officiant for service (they get their own book) & someone to do the readings (that person picks two readings from the theme.)
  4. Do the service following the instructions in the Service Pamphlet.
  5. Two hymns are included on sheet if you would like to use them.

 Other ideas to keep each year fresh is to change out the hymns, children’s bulletins and color pages.  For bags geared towards family with youth (older children) include mazes, decoders, car games, family trivia (have some fun and base the trivia questions on your clergy and known activities) and other resources to keep families engaged at any age.

Ask the families to share their experience or use of the bags.  We asked the families to post their altars on social media and tag the parish.

Click on any of the highlighted items to see what I used.  Any items purchased through this link helps to fund this site:

Green Altar cloths

Tea Candles (2 per kit)