Sometimes it's difficult come up with a new theme for vacation Bible school (VBS) each summer. The key is to begin looking for a theme well in advance of your church's camp dates so you have plenty of time to prepare. The following suggestions offer a variety of activities that help bring the theme to life and make the event fun for kids. Add these ideas to your files so you'll have a number of good choices to rely on for several future camps.
Five Vacation Bible Camp Theme Ideas
Jump start your imagination with these theme suggestions. Use them as a starting point, and feel free to incorporate your own activity ideas as the inspiration strikes.
Using 1 Timothy 4:7 as a key verse, use sports as a means to teach kids to "finish the race." This is also a great theme to use when the Olympics roll around, and it can be adapted for children of any age.
- Crafts: Crafts can include decorating Frisbees and sports caps.
- Snacks: Serve up some popcorn "sports" balls and Gatorade as themed snacks.
- Stories: Use a story like Daniel and the Lions' Den from Daniel 6 as the basis for your theme. Paul's own missionary journeys also show how Christians can finish the race well. Acts 13:1-4 is a good place to find passages to share.
- Music: Music should include traditional hymns and could also include sports-themed and battle songs such as "Eye of the Tiger."
- Games: Each day of VBS could focus on a different sport. For example, day one could center around basketball, day two around baseball, day three around track and field, and so on.
The Great Adventure
An adventure-themed camp offers so many possibilities. This theme is one that just about any age group would love since you're never too old for an adventure. First consider where your "adventure" will take place.
- Wild West
- Mountain Climbing
- European Trek
- South of the Border
Decorate your camp area so it really looks as if you are at your chosen destination. Next, plan the activities around that location.
Crafts: Kids can make crafts like decorated water bottles and cardboard binoculars and compasses.
Snacks: Offers snacks that would be typical of food that fits with your imaginary location. For example, bananas and other tropical fruits work well for a rainforest theme, while a snack like trail mix fits a mountain climbing theme.
Stories: The story of Joseph, which is found in Genesis 37, offers a great example of how going on God's adventure always leads you to the right place. The story of Jonah is another good one to use. In Jonah 1-4, Jonah flees God's commands and winds up in the belly of a whale. Of course, there are other adventures in the Bible as well, and this type of theme lends itself to some creativity.
Music: Play music that suits your adventure, such as Mariachi music for a South of the Border theme, or use Indiana Jones theme music.
Activity: An adventure walk works well with this theme. Create a path outside and hide Bible verses along the way that tell about great adventurers, such as Moses. Stop at each point where you've hidden a verse, encourage the children to find it, and then discuss why that person was adventurous and how it can be applied to the kids' lives.
Knights, kings, queens, princes, and princesses all make great themes to work around. You can decorate your VBS area to look like a castle. This theme is probably most appropriate for children through third grade, but fourth and fifth graders might enjoy it if the focus is on knights and battles.
- Crafts: Make crowns out of pipe cleaners or construction paper. Create armor from tin foil and cardboard, and talk about putting on God's armor.
- Snacks: Serve cookies shaped like castles.
- Stories: Spend the week focusing on the stories of King David from 2 Samuel 5, King Solomon from 1 Kings and, of course, Jesus Christ as the coming King from Luke 2.
- Music: Play songs like "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Be Still, God Will Fight Your Battle."
- Activity: Host an old time jousting tournament complete with toy horses on sticks and swords made from cardboard and aluminum foil.
Noah's Ark Theme
Young children in particular will enjoy a Noah's Ark theme accompanied by a fun craft. The story of Noah is a reminder that God sometimes calls us to do things that seem impossible, but with God, all things are possible.
- Crafts: Use clay to create an ark and animals, or make animal masks out of cardstock and construction paper.
- Snacks: Animal crackers and celery with peanut butter and raisins. aka ants on a log, make great snacks for this theme.
- Stories: Tell the story of Noah and the building of the ark as found in Genesis 5:32 - 10:1. Also share the story of the rainbow from the same verses and talk about how it represents hope.
- Music: There are several songs written especially about Noah that you can incorporate into your bible camp week, including "Arky, Arky." DLTK features an entire list of Noah themed song ideas.
- Games: Create cards with two of each type of animal and play a matching game.
God created a vast universe, so it only makes sense to celebrate that creation with a space-themed vacation bible school. Children from preschool to fifth grade will enjoy this theme.
- Crafts: Use empty paper towel cardboard tubes to create rocket ships. The kids should paint the "ships" however they want. The point of the ship can be created with a paper cone made with construction paper.
- Snacks: Rice Crispy treats shaped like space rockets make terrific snacks. Wrap other snacks in aluminum foil and stick American toothpick flags into the top.
- Stories: Share the story of Genesis 1:1 where it states that God made the heavens and put the stars in their place.
Games: Create a board with stars, planets and the sun, but leave Earth out of the scene. Create a cutout of planet earth and play "Pin Earth in Space."
- Music: Play the theme from Space Odyssey and the Blast Off Song (video below).
Complete Theme Packages
If creating your own VBS theme seems like more work than you have time for, there are a variety of companies that have already done most of the work for you. The themes may change from year to year, but each company provides a complete package including music, games, lessons, and even decorating ideas.
- Lifeway Christian Resources offers a new theme each year. The 2014 theme was Agency 3D (detectives), and the 2015 theme is Journey Off the Map, which is an adventurer theme. Lifeway offers a complete kit plus add ons.
- Standard Publishing offers a complete kit with add ons, such as wall decorations, invitations and wall murals. The 2014 theme is Jungle Safari, but themes in past years have included High Seas Expedition, Hero Headquarters, and Journey Through Egypt. The 2015 theme will be Blast to the Past.
- Gospel Light VBS offers several themes. The current theme is SonSpark Labs, where students get to be scientists and discover God's word.
Most companies that sell complete themed packages include everything from teacher booklets to volunteer recruitment forms to music and other related materials. You can also expect to receive a fair amount of clipart, as well as ideas that you can use to go along with the theme of the week.
Ensure Your Bible Camp Is a Success
You may be the person in charge of coming up with the VBS theme, but it's important to recruit help and divide duties based on the number of volunteers you recruit. While it may not be advisable to have a large committee go over all the options for your VBS, narrow your choices down to two or three themes, and then have a committee help you select one. With good organization and cooperation from everyone involved, your Bible camp can be a wonderful success!