Thursday, February 22, 2024

VBS 2024 - SCUBA from Group Publishing

If you only choose one VBS resource to use in your ministry this Summer, I highly recommend Group Publishing's SCUBA - diving into friendship with God. Now, if you have read my reviews over the past nearly thirty years, you know I recommend getting one VBS resource with all the "bells & whistles" your church is able to afford and use it for a week of VBS and then on Sundays throughout your Summer (don't worry, I'll post in a few days about how to do this.) But, if you only use for VBS, then SCUBA is absolutely the VBS to use, in my opinion. Why do I write this? For the following reasons . . . 

Scope and Sequence -
  1. God is a Friend Who is Real - God shows Himself to Elijah through ups and downs - 1 Kings 18, 19
  2. God is a Friend Who Loves - God shows compassion to the people of Nineveh - Jonah 1-3
  3. God is a Friend we can Trust - Jesus calms a storm - Mark 4:35-41
  4. God is a Friend Forever - Jesus dies and comes back to life - John 18-20
  5. God is a Friend for everyone - Lydia believes in Jesus - Acts 16:11-15
Setting - Shelves of coral reef clothed in the vibrant colors of diverse sea creatures bring a new meaning to the concept of living water. the undersea VBS adventure of a lifetime. 
Theme - Take kids deep into an amazing undersea adventure where they’ll experience the ever-flowing, never-ending love of God. At Scuba VBS, kids will be immersed in the Word and discover what living water is really all about!
Focus – Evangelism, Understanding, Application, Engagement, and Content 
Strengths - 

  • The SCUBA VBS kit provides all the resources, information, and help you need to plan and present an effective VBS. For example . . . 
    • You will find a complete Director's Manual. It even starts inside the cover by laying out each day at a glance and then provides emails and phone numbers where you will be able to connect with real people for any help you may need! This is fantastic!
    • I am very happy to see Group has provided additional information for First-Time Directors. Taking on the role of VBS Director for the first time may be overwhelming, but Group makes it easy! Well done, Group!
    • They then provide two pages of the must-know info - helpful for everyone.
    • The basics and a walk through the SCUBA starter kit is easy to understand.
  • I LOVE the Operation Kid-to-Kid project for this year - children raise money to help provide clean water for people in Honduras. Here in the USA clean water is something we do not even think about. We are most blessed. It is not this way everywhere. In far too many places children do not have access to clean water. Group Publishing teamed up with World Vision to involve children in showing love to Honduran people by raising money to provide clean water. Excellent!
  • I also LOVE the "student book" for this year - each child will receive their own copy of the Gospel of John. During the new Sticky Scriptures Station children will learn basic Bible skills, how to find their way around a real Bible - their own copy of the Book of John! Even if your church has a limited VBS budget, please do all you are able to do to provide a Gospel of John for each child. Along with the text from John, they will find activities to challenge, engage, and encourage them to read God's Word. This is SO far superior to a student book in every way. Extremely well done, Group!
  • The "Scuba Clue" in the margins of the Director's book are each filled with excellent, helpful information and tips - don't skip reading these.
  • I am SO happy Group is continuing to include their "God Sightings" - as children learn about knowing God in VBS, they are encouraged to go home and look for ways they see, feel, or experience God's love each day, and then share this the next day in VBS. As children write or draw on a paper fish their "God Sightings" and add it to a special wall, they will easily be able to see real ways God shows His love is real each day! Fantastic!
  • I love how Group continues to perfect their design for VBS - they were the very first Publisher to use a rotation station format for VBS - most others have copied this, but Group started it. Each day children gather for a time to sing and learn about the day's point, then their groups rotate through the different stations -
    • Deep Bible Adventures where children do not just sit and listen to someone tell about a Bible account, they experience it by participating!
    • Imagination Station - this year you do not have to buy science projects for each child - you instead have one kit per group/crew of children and then the children are led to participate in cool, surprising, unexpected science projects which will help them remember the day's Bible point! I LOVE Imagination Station!
    • Sticky Scripture - this is a new stop on the rotation where children are actively engaged in opening and learning God's Word together with games and intentional conversations - so Scripture will "stick" - which of course is what we want!
    • Reef Rec - of course most children enjoy playing the games at VBS and this year's games are ones which the children will love - and continue the learning while they play!
    • Tidal Treats - another VBS favorite - what's not to love about snacks - especially when the learning continues! Group does not waste any time in their VBS - they weave learning in everything.
    • It all wraps up with the "Fin-tastic Finale" where the day's point is made one more time through song, object lessons which will get the children's attention, and a lot of fun!
  • I'm very happy to see the count-down calendar to help director's cover all their bases for planning and presenting a truly effective VBS.
  • Group's "Gift Registry" is a great way to help engage and involve your church in providing the funding and resources for your VBS - no matter the size of your church. You will find information about this in your director's book.
  • The daily schedule pages are a fun and simple way to help your group/crew leaders connect with the children in their group/crew - includes fun info, questions, activities, and conversations for them to have with the children as they move from station to station. Nice touch.
  • I'm happy to see a complete section in the director's book on recruiting and training your volunteers.
  • Of course, since there will be children in your VBS who may not yet know Jesus, VBS is a great evangelism tool. I'm happy to see Group's page on "helping children follow Jesus". Share this with all your volunteers.
  • Excellent info on health, safety, and involving children with special needs. Not only do they devote time and space to this in the director's book, but there is an additional book on safety and security.
  • I am SO happy to see Group encourages directors to take time to thank their volunteers after VBS is over. Well done, Group!
These are just the things I liked from looking through the Director's Book! When I looked more closely through each Teacher's Book, I liked the following things . . .
  • I truly LOVE how each day's lesson begins with a "Diving into the Bible" portion which explains the background for the day's Bible event. I especially LOVE how Group doesn't stop here, they go on to explain how teachers are able to help children connect with the Bible point/lesson for the day AND "why it matters". EXTREMELY well done, Group.
  • With Group a Bible lesson is more than a "lesson", it is an "event"! Children get to help build alters, go on a "boat ride", get "swallowed by a big fish", "experience" a storm at sea, think through the REASONS why they are able to believe Jesus rose (honestly, this alone is enough reason for me to recommend SCUBA as the best VBS for 2024), and visit Lydia. There are no boring Bible lessons with Group!
  • Imagination Station is another reason why Group VBS stands out - children do not have to sit quietly listening, they are able to ask and answer questions, they are able to participate in memorable science projects and this is something which gets the attention of all children - even elementary boys!
  • I LOVE the "Jesus Connection" at the end of each "Fin-tastic Finale" - fantastic way to help children think through the Bible point again and why they are able to believe.
  • You are sure to love the music for SCUBA and find the decoration tips helpful for turning your church into an undersea adventure!
The only thing I would change/add/do differently, is I would add in quotes from scientists - like Dr. Francis Collins - to help children hear from real scientists why they are able to believe. 

Group Publishing says; "Take kids deep into an amazing undersea adventure where they’ll experience the ever-flowing, never-ending love of God. At Scuba VBS, kids will be immersed in the Word and discover what living water is really all about! At Scuba Vacation Bible School, one memorable Bible Point is reinforced throughout each station, each day—making it easy for kids to remember and apply in real life."

Okay, well, as you can see, there are many reasons I LOVE SCUBA and recommend it as my Top VBS Pick for 2024. You are able to find out more about it at this link and order your kit for your own VBS 2024!

Tomorrow I'm writing about why Group's SCUBA VBS is the best way to invest some of your evangelism budget dollars whether you have a large or small church. On Monday I will post my review of Hometown Nazareth, so stay tuned and please share this post with other children's leaders you know.

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