What is VBS?

Jena C. Henry is a writer, blogger, book reviewer, and bon vivant. Her goal is to make friends with everyone in the world. Jena enjoys reading new books and encouraging writers to be their best. Jena C. Henry holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Akron and practiced law and raised her family in tropical Ohio. Now retired, she writes novels, conducts writing workshops and enjoys good times with friends and family. Her fiction series, The Golden Age of Charli, spotlights the love and laughter of family life and retirement.



Many of you may remember your mid-summer’s week spent at a neighborhood church at VBS which stands for Vacation Bible School.

But, VBS stands for so much more. For me, Vacation Bible School is a beacon of fun and friends, crafts and songs, and a positive way to hear the Gospel message.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to have fond memories of VBS, because this institution has been around for a long time. The roots of VBS began in the summer Chautauqua cultural and learning programs that became popular in the 1870’s. In 1894, A Sunday school teacher in Hopedale, Illinois, started a four-week summer program for her students that featured learning and recess.

Then came Mrs. Walter Aylett Hawes, a doctor’s wife. Her goal was to get children off the streets of New York. In 1898 and 1899 Mrs. Hawes rented a beer hall in New York’s East Side to conduct her Everyday Bible School.

Vacation Bible School began in a beer hall!

In 1922, the World Association of Daily Vacation Bible School was founded and in 1923 this Association printed its first curriculum.

Not only did VBS keep generations of children off the streets,

but it also provided creative outlets for generations of church ladies.

Moving forward to my generation, we had wonderful church ladies who ran the VBS I attended every summer from kindergarten through high school. The church ladies did it all- taught, led the choir and programs, planned the crafts and recess and best of all, made cookies, cupcakes and rice krispie treats galore to go with the red food punch at snack time.

I can remember the thrill of lining up to march into the sanctuary each morning for the opening songs and program. Big kids led the way, bearing