(I don’t know if everyone has Vacation Bible School, but it’s pretty big in Protestant circles, and it’s a pretty sweet deal. Also, we are in the heart of the VBS season. After that, grownups with non-employable kids, you are on your own…)

You can’t have Vacation Bible School without glue and construction paper, no more than you can have a legal trial without manila folders.

And you can’t have summertime without having VBS.

I loved Vacation Bible School, a summer staple in the Bible Belt.

No detention…

No homework…

The Kool-Aid flowing free and easy…

VBS was a license to steal, a poor analogy here but you get the point.

”Ahh,”  a friend reminded me, “the smell of varnish on unfinished wood. You know what I’m talking about!”

I do, because I am a veteran of Vacation Bible School, where we learned arts and crafts and the books of the Old Testament all at the same time.

If you’ve missed out on VBS, it’s an annual time at the local church of fun and learning and various activities for the elementary-schoolers, usually lasting each morning for a week.  Or until the coconut cookies run out.

Once you get to be a certain age, like 13 or so, you don’t get “fired” from VBS so much as you graduate.  No more worlds to conquer, no more key chains to make.

By junior high, the Bible is hopefully your companion, but kiddy scissors and jumbo crayons have sort of lost their luster. And your hands are too large to put in plaster, at least cost-effectively.

You can always return to VBS as a volunteer though, the likes of whom make the week possible in the first place.  Otherwise you’d have the preacher and minister of music and the secretary babysitting a few dozen children for a hot summer week. And you’d have at least three resignations the following Sunday morning.

Vacation Bible School. We did every kind of craft you can think of, short of learning how to apply makeup and fake fingernails.

Paper plates turned into turkeys, thanks to some feathers and watercolors.

Macaroni was, we learned for the first time, a dual threat. You could eat it for snack, then use the uncooked part to decorate your Father’s Day gift. Who knew you could paint macaroni?

I have at my house to this day a 5-by-7 piece of construction paper with a black-and-while photograph glued to its middle. The picture of me and my sisters is cut into an almost-circle, the edges of the “frame” are jagged (because we used those special “teeth” scissors”) and the border is crushed egg shells somehow glued to the paper. And spray-painted red and silver. (You’d think it’s the egg shells that make this piece so expensive, but actually, it’s the sentiment.)

We illustrated Bible stories with things we made from pine cones and egg crates and toilet paper holders and scotch tape and clothespins. (This must be what attending “McGyver” Baptist Church would be like!) We didn’t turn water into wine, but our teachers knew how to make a pop bottle turn into a decorative candle holder. If the teachers were totally exhausted or at wit’s end or turned heathen, we fell back on the simple “Outline Of Your Hand” painting.

Did I accidentally knock a kid down a hill outside Piney Grove Baptist one morning at VBS? Yes. Did he break his arm? Yes. Did my dad wear me out? Yes. But worse, he made me stay home a day from Vacation Bible School.  And because of it, he missed out on getting a John 3:16-inscribed Father’s Day carburetor made from tin foil, paper clips and a Pop-Tarts box.