Children, volunteers from all walks come together at Fort Meade's Vacation Bible School
By Lisa R. Rhodes | Staff writer | Fort Meade Sound Off | 07/03/08
Children enrolled in Fort Meade's Vacation Bible School learned the biblical story, from the gospel of Matthew, of how the disciple Peter left a boat to walk on water to meet Jesus during a storm.
"I bet he was terrified," Tamara McGaha, a Bible school volunteer, said about Peter. "What helped him to stay above water?"
"Jesus!" the children shouted in unison.
The story of Jesus and Peter was part of the religious curriculum taught to more than 200 children enrolled in the weeklong ecumenical Vacation Bible School at Argonne Hills Chapel Center. The school, which ran from June 23 to 27, was targeted to children ages 4 to 10 who live on and off post.
"We want them to know the love Jesus has for them," Marcia Eastland, Fort Meade's Protestant religious education coordinator, said of the 30-year-old program. "This is for children to come together and learn about Jesus and what he does for them and their Families."
A volunteer staff of 65 adults, many of who are members of Fort Meade churches, taught a curriculum called Power Lab. Designed by Group Publishing Inc., a producer of Christian educational materials based in Loveland, Colo., the curriculum emphasizes science, arts and crafts and music to teach basic Christian values and biblical stories.
To help youngsters understand Peter's experience, volunteers encouraged them to take a walk through three tubs of water set on the floor of one of the classrooms at the chapel center. The classroom was decorated with brown cotton sheets and pieces of rope to resemble the interior of Peter's boat.
"There are many things that happen to us all the time. When you have a problem, you need to look at Jesus," McGaha said. "We can pray and read the Bible and Jesus will be close to us."
The story of Jesus and Peter was part of a lesson plan to encourage children to be brave when faced with adversity.
Six-year-old Ben Fisk said he was brave the day he fell while climbing a fence at home. "I didn't cry out loud," Ben said, adding that his mother gave him a Band-Aid for his cuts and bruises.
Ben said he also learned about how Jesus healed people with leprosy.
On the first day of the school, Installation Chaplain Lt. Col. Michael Punke delivered an opening prayer. Three days later, Installation Commander Col. Kenneth O. McCreedy and his wife, LeAnn, joined the children in singing upbeat religious songs.
Meagan Whitefield, 21, a junior studying psychology at Bowie State University, said she volunteered to be an instructor at the Bible school because she loves people.
"God is the center of my life. ... I've been called to be here," said Whitefield, who has volunteered in the program for five consecutive years.
A member of the chapel center, Whitefield said she prefers her volunteer work to shopping with friends.
Marion Good, a member of the installation's Calvary Chapel, has been teaching arts and crafts at the Bible school since 1972.
"I love children," she said. "We're trying to get them closer to Jesus."
Good said arts and crafts make religious instruction fun for children and heightens their curiosity.
This year, she helped the children design beaded bracelets that will be sent to youngsters in South Africa.
Fallon Proctor, 11, said the most important lesson he learned is that God is steadfast in his love.
"God is always there," Fallon said. "He is willing to help you if you just listen."