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Teen learns by teaching at VBS

Staff writer

Gracie Mackey is in her second year planning vacation Bible school, but neither that or social distancing has stopped the Florence high schooler from getting excited for what she has planned.

Her goal is to have a socially distanced movie night for Florence VBS’s finale at the end of July.

“It’s not solidified yet, but that’s the thought,” she said. “We’re going to do some sort of social distancing activity at the end so kids can kind of see civilization.”

Mackey’s first time planning VBS was last year. She quickly adapted to interacting with a younger audience.

“I love it,” she said. “I know a lot of the kids by name now. I’ll be around and it’s like I have a ton of new siblings. I already have a lot but I have more now, it seems.”

One of Mackey’s favorite aspects is Bible verses. After children learn a verse and recite it to Mackey, they get to drive by and squirt her with water guns. Last year’s prize? Splashing Mackey and her friends with paint.

“It gets kids to start memorizing Bible verses,” she said.

Similar to Florence, Peabody will have a remote operation for VBS.

The program will begin Monday and run through the end of the week. Organizer Michele Gossen and helpers will pass out activity bags to participants every day.

To make it run smoothly, Gossen will have to take advantage of online resources. She plans to upload videos every day so children can participate in activities.

“They have an option for VBS but a way to do it safely,” she said.

Mackey also plans to create activity bags and online videos for children.

Florence has a limited target population, but Mackey sees benefits in that.

“It really gets kids out to see others their age,” she said.

Mackey isn’t limited to Florence, either. Last year’s program included children from Marion, Peabody, and Chase County, too, as well as a child visiting from Missouri.

Florence VBS will be the last week in July. Learning how to organize an event and interacting with children has opened Mackey’s eyes to career paths that interest her.

“It definitely put a lot ideas on the table for me,” she said. “I really enjoy planning things. An event organizer was what I was looking at, and more recently I’ve been looking into physical therapy for kids.”

One of Gossen’s biggest assets in Peabody is her parental understanding.

“My experience as a mom helps me come up with ideas I know could work,” she said. “I use that experience to help me make decisions.”

Gossen no longer is able to focus on the same games or events as when there were 40 children in one place.

“It’s just trying to be creative,” she said. “It’s not a whole group game but more individualized, and with things they have at home.”

Representatives from several Marion churches decided to forgo Marion community VBS this year.

Hillsboro churches also will not be doing VBS this year, but Tamara Cassidy doesn’t see it as a problem for her children.

“Our church just didn’t have it this year because we normally do it in May,” she said.

Last modified July 8, 2020

 

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