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From the Publisher's Desk – Lots of areas open for learning (June 3, 2015 issue)

It’s the time of year that I start to see church announcements and advertising promoting various Vacation Bible School schedules throughout the county. It is exciting to see churches getting involved with the youth. Often times, it brings in other youngsters who don’t regularly attend church.
There was no VBS when I was growing up. I remember my early Sunday school classes at church and the little Bible story cards. They usually depicted a picture of Jesus with the young children or Jesus as a shepherd. Although I got my start with the classes, it was after I was a young adult before the church started holding summer Bible school events.
I also remember being the inquisitive one at that early age. “Where did the cave men and the dinosaurs come into the picture?,” I would ask in Sunday school. “Were they before Adam and Eve?” That topic seemed to get danced around and the subject changed.
I am still not quite sure of the answer. I just remember being told that wasn’t in the Bible and that’s what we were there to study. History never was my strong point. If I didn’t live through it, I have a hard time remembering the details. Actually, I don’t remember a lot of things from last week.
I think VBS is an amazing way to get tomorrow’s church excited about learning. There are so many tools available today to make learning fun. Children are led through games and discussions. Before they know it, they have learned something Bible related as well as tips for being a better person on a daily level.
My first encounters with Bible school included themes, children marching in with their age group, songs, and puppet skits. The groups were dismissed to their own individual classes, where they learned a Bible topic and did crafts. We would all join up afterwards for a final recap, followed by snacks.
Erwin Presbyterian Church started VBS Sunday night. The fellowship hall was decorated with a Hollywood flare. Participants walked down the red carpet, stopped for a photo and entered the classroom for learning, singing, games, crafts and snacks. I was asked to make the photos and truly enjoyed seeing the glow on each child’s face.
Sometimes I wish as adults we could find that same level of excitement in coming together, playing together and learning. There is something to be said for the simplicity of youth.
Another great thing to consider for your child, ages 4-8, is Safety Town. This is a program coordinated by the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce to promote safety education. Safety Town is an interactive program that uses discussions, role playing, walks, games, songs and artwork to convey cautions and safety measures for children.
The curriculum being discussed will include stranger danger, internet safety, fire safety, bike safety, water safety, gun safety, drugs poison safety and other aspects of safety. Each lesson will be adapted for appropriateness for the age being taught.
The Chamber had a good turn out last year and the program was a great success. They decided to continue it this year in hopes of gaining exposure to more children with this useful knowledge and help them become safer and better prepared.
The classes will be taught by trained and qualified individuals from the Erwin Police Department, Erwin Fire Department, Unicoi County Health Department and other contributing agencies. During the classes, children will also receive individualized help to memorize their addresses and telephone numbers. On the last day of class, children will be fingerprinted and will receive identification cards in which parents can keep on file.
The program will be held June 9-11, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the Unicoi County Middle School. There is a registration fee of $20 for residents and $30 for non-Unicoi County residents. But the cost is certainly worth the knowledge the children will gain, which could save their lives sometime in the future. All participants will also receive a Safety Town T-shirt.
For more information on Safety Town, contact the Chamber at 743-3000. Also, watch this newspaper for Vacation Bible Schools held throughout the summer. Try and get your child in one or more. Making them better citizens makes Unicoi County a better place for us all.
Oh, and if your child learns anything about those cave men and dinosaurs will you let me know. I’m going back to study some more. In the beginning…