Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wilderness Escape VBS Day Camp Decorations

Our church has a week-long program for the kids with a VBS-type morning (songs, crafts, Bible lesson, games, snacks) followed by a field trip each afternoon (rollerskating, bowling, zoo, mini golf & swimming).  It's an intense week!

I was asked to help with decorations and this year's theme used the Wilderness Escape curriculum from  It was all about Moses and the Israelites in the Wilderness.

The first thing I did was make the Registration Table a little more exciting to drum up some enthusiasm in anticipation for Day Camp.
The background is blue bulletin board paper and I painted some clouds on it for the "sky".  Along the bottom is some scrunched up kraft paper for the "land".  We raided the storage room for various plants/trees and set those alongside the background and on the table.  You can't see in the photo, but I put some blankets on the floor under the table and added some props like a jar, some baskets, rocks, grapes, things like that.  We re-used a lot of this stuff in other areas during Day Camp week.

Then Day Camp week arrived.  We decorated the foyer area where the kids arrived so they'd be greeted with a glimpse of the theme.  It makes a big difference, doesn't it?

The doors led to our Israelite camp, so I made a sign and hung some fabric over the doors.  Some of the boys made a directional sign (broom handle in a bucket of sand with cardboard arrows) pointing to the Promised Land, Egypt, Mount Sinai, and the Red Sea.  The church already owned the working waterfall which was reminiscent of Moses getting the water out of the rock, so we just jazzed it up with some more plants from the storage room.  I strung some rope around the plants and added a drop cloth on the floor to discourage kids from climbing on the fountain.

The campers then were assigned to one of 12 tribes and gathered at their tent in the gym.  We already had the tents from a previous year when we had a western theme, so that was easy.  I made banners using kraft paper and a different color of duck tape for each tribe.  We also stuck the duck tape on the floor to delineate each tribe's area.

The opening program took place in the main sanctuary every day and we made a stage set to look like mountains with a tent in the foreground. I didn't get a very good picture of it, but here it is in action.
We had the 8-foot backdrop boards and painted them to look like a wilderness mountain.  The little parts of the mountain that stick up above the boards were made from foam insulation board. The boards were set on some risers to give them more height, and we covered the risers with drop cloths.  The tent was made from an EZ-UP tent covered with drop cloths.  Again, we raided the storage room for palm trees and set those around, and made a little campfire with real logs and rocks.

The Bible story was supposed to take place in Moses' tent, so I transformed one of the nurseries so it felt like you were in a tent.  This was a lot  more time consuming than I thought it would be.
We attached some zip ties to the supports for the drop ceiling, tied rope to those, threaded the rope through PVC pipes, and draped fabric from it.  Our church fortunately owned the fabric already because it was a lot of yardage!  For the back wall of the tent, we attached more white fabric to the drop ceiling supports using binder clips.  Binder clips also helped close some of the gaps between pieces of fabric.  Then we threw various sheets/blankets/rugs on the floor and added some accessories (from the registration table) to complete the look.  We re-wrote parts of the curriculum to add more drama and characters to make the story come alive for the campers.

One of the days, the campers crossed the Red Sea.  This was a fun project to figure out.  We used two rolling room dividers to make the Red Sea in the hallway.  When the campers first approached, they saw the land and and sky (re-used from the Registration table) and the blue fabric was spread across the hallway like it was the water.  Then  Moses parted the sea (some helpers rolled the one room divider across the hall) and the campers walked between the room dividers covered with blue tarps made to look like walls of water.  Also, as the room divider was pulled across the hall, a drop cloth was pulled along with it, creating the "dry ground" between the walls of water.
I had a ton of help with this, so the main set up only lasted one afternoon.  It was the first time I had done something of this scale, and it was a fun challenge!