Over 110 children, teens and volunteers got together for PandaMania, a vacation bible studies program presented by Marco Presbyterian Church. In line with the recent popularity of a panda character thanks to Dreamworks hit “Kung Fu Panda” movies, the theme was sure to succeed. The underlying message: “God is wild about you!”
There was no charge for the weeklong program which included dinner. The fare was age appropriate; macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, hot dogs, Ramen noodle soup, all kid favorites. After dinner the entire group would sing and play. The children broke into smaller groups and the kids enjoyed Wild Bible Adventures, Crazy Crafts and Missions, MovieMania with a chipmunk character named Chadder. One evening, the bible story was about Jonah and the whale. A giant inflated whale was created in a room in which the children would sit and learn about the story. To make the scenario as real as possible, a can of sardines was opened to give it a more authentic smell. While all the fun andhands on learning was taking place, messages resounded: God loves us, God listens to us, God watches us.
Margo Heidenreich, a teacher at Marco Island Charter Middle School, was a co-ordinator of this VBS program along with Pastor of Families Paul May. Volunteers, including Senior Pastor Bill Lyle, Bill (Seaweed) Totos and his wife, Shirley Totos and Kevin Brown helped out in the kitchen serving up dinner and treats. Kathleen Tuttle helped register the children and Jo-Ann Garvin was kind enough to volunteer wherever needed.
In addition to Bible study, PandaMania is about Operation Kid-to-Kid. The Kid-to-Kid program was designed to show kids how wonderful and powerful it feels to GIVE. While the children attended the Crazy Crafts and Missions portion of the event, they decorated a “Jesus Loves Me” backpack and bookmark and they learned about a child in need. On the final day, the backpack was packed up to be shipped to Latin America where a Spanish language Bible will be added.
PandaMania was a successful VBS program. It was a program with a purpose and the children had a whale of a good time, too!