Our Kids Need Us (Jan Baumann)

It is important for children to learn to build relationships with other adults who see the good in them and believe in them. They should know other adults who will listen to them and care about them.

There are opportunities for those kinds of rich connections at Westminster in all of our children’s and youth programs. After our vacation Bible school (Barefoot School) this past summer I spent time reflecting not just as the volunteer coordinator at the church, but also as a volunteer for the past 22 years. Who volunteered at Barefoot School and why; what was their experience?

The answer to who volunteered is very broad…we had men and women, we had teens and volunteers in their 90’s and every age in-between, we had moms and dads and grandparents of children in the program, we had retirees, we had people who took one or two days of vacation from work to help, we had volunteers who grew up going to vacation Bible school when they were kids, we had sales reps, teachers, doctors, engineers, accountants, nurses, counselors, attorneys, and many more, but they all had one thing in common. They all like kids and love God.

I asked volunteers, after the week was over about their favorite experiences and the following quotes are just some of what I heard:

• The smiles on the faces of the kids every day!
• Being with the kids and learning about God together is my favorite part. We had fun and they shared serious things on their hearts too.
• Being a retired teacher, I had forgotten how much I loved interacting with them.
• I most enjoyed hearing the kids talk about their experiences and their enthusiasm. It was fun and I not only felt connected to God and the church, but to my own children’s faith. It generated meaningful conversations that may not otherwise have occurred.
• My favorite thing about BFS this year was the relationships that I formed with the children in my crew. I had a super group of rising fourth grade girls. They were so upbeat and happy during their week at camp and they seemed to truly enjoy having me as their leader.
• There were actually 2 things that I most enjoyed-being involved with helping with the songs and getting to know more of the members at Westminster.
• I enjoyed meeting the other volunteers and seeing the children learn about our mighty lord.
• I really enjoy spending time with the children (including my own) during a really fun week. The environment is full of energy and has a great sense of togetherness and working together.
My personal reflections on the volunteering I do with the children in our church (in addition to Barefoot School I am a weekly leader in our 5th and 6th grade youth group) are as follows:
• It takes time that I could or should be doing something else…it almost always turns out to be a much better way to spend that time, for me and for the children.
• I sometimes feel that I am not the most qualified person for the role because I am not a pastor or a teacher…I learn more each and every time I volunteer and it has enriched my life.
• Do I really make a difference for any of these kids…just one small incident recently, one of the girls came running in when she arrived, looking for me, wanting to share a personal story with me that happened since she saw me last.

If you like kids and love God, I invite you to join us in a volunteer opportunity with children or youth that works for you. We have opportunities that take a couple of hours one time and you are done, take a couple of days in a week like Barefoot School, and opportunities that are once a month on Wednesday evenings during the school year, and everything in between. If you would like to share yourself, we can make it work.

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