AMID THE BUSTLE and noise of lunch at Junior High Camp, a group of about 15 campers and counselors marched into the Camp Mitchell dining hall, each holding high a metal fork, and snaked around the room singing:
“We are, we are, we are
The Order of the Forks!
We are, we are, we are
The Order of the Forks!
And each and every one of us
Is different from the rest of us!
We are, we are, we are
The Order of the Forks!”
CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE SONG
The background noise of giggling and potato chip bags and scuffling shoes quieted and attention turned toward the fork-wielding group. What exactly is the Order of the Forks?
“It really isn’t anything, but we try to tell everybody it’s a secret society,” said Paul Ricketts, one of the camp counselors and Order of the Forks esteemed leader (not an official title).
“It’s really just us walking around the dining hall yelling about forks,” said Charlie McCracken, another counselor. Also esteemed.
Here’s how it goes: The current Order of the Forks members march in, yelling and singing about forks, and circle around one unsuspecting camper, the new initiate. He or she must stand as the current members all raise their forks and shout, “Fee-fi-fo-fum! We initiate you!” and then jab their forks in the general direction of the new initiate, who then joins the procession as it makes its way to the next person. There are usually three new initiates each day.
It’s a dubious distinction. The initiates are randomly chosen; the only requirement is that he or she has a fork nearby. There are no assigned duties, and membership lasts only until the end of camp.
So how does it feel to be inducted into the Order of the Forks?
“I feel powerful,” said one of the day’s initiates, Andrew Milam of Batesville, Ark. But it could also have been the deli sandwich and chocolate cake he had just eaten.
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Two Little Rock VBSs Find Success with Fresh Approaches
FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW, Christ Church in Little Rock and St. Luke’s in North Little Rock have teamed up to co-host a vacation Bible School. This year’s theme is “Go in Peace,” derived from the deacon’s dismissal at the end of the church service: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
“The whole concept is to teach children how to walk through their days in all different ways and remember that peace is with them,” said Patricia Matthews, director of children youth and family ministries at Christ Church.
There are about 60 kids, 10 youth helpers, and 20 adults at vacation Bible school this year. Most of the Episcopal churches in Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Maumelle are represented, as well as Dorcas House, a shelter for women and children.
The children rotate through several sessions, which all relate to the theme of peace. Each day, there is a Bible story, led by the Rev. Joanna Seibert, that focuses on the different ways that Jesus showed a path of peace. And a music session, led by Beth Maze, where the children learn songs about peace. Stephannie Baker is leading a yoga class to help kids remember that how they move through the day, literally, affects their sense of peace. And a cooking class, led by Sarah Olney, allows participants to try out healthy, kid-friendly recipes and make their own booklet of recipes to take home.
And then there are the seed balls, a guerilla-gardening project led by Kyle Holton.
“The way we relate to God’s creation can also bring us peace,” Matthews said. “When you’re out in nature, when you’re gardening, when you’re working with the dirt, you often find a sense of peace. So we’re taking seeds”—flowers, mustard greens, turnips, clover—”and wrapping them up in clay, and we’re going to go out for a big walk around our downtown neighborhood and throw seed balls into abandoned areas so that turnips and flowers and clover will grow up unexpectedly.”
Ultimately, this vacation Bible school all about remembering peace and taking it out into the world, said Matthews. She recounted a story that Joyce Hardy, deacon at Christ Church, had told earlier in the week. Early in her ministry as a deacon, Hardy forgot the words to the dismissal at the end of service. She remembered, “Go in peace,” and then all she could think to say was, “Go in love,” and then she said, “Just go.”
“This idea that we ‘just go,’” said Matthews, “that we go out into the world to share our peace with others—it’s not something we keep for ourselves—is something we’re trying to instill in the kids.”
A MILE AWAY, Trinity Cathedral is hosting its annual Cathedral Camp this week, too. This year, for the first time, it is being held in the evening. Families are encouraged to attend together and bring a picnic supper to enjoy on the grounds beforehand.
The theme for this year’s Cathedral Camp is “Babylonian Bluesfest,” the sixth and final year in a cycle that takes children through stories in the Old Testament.
“They hear the story,” said Dawn Howe, Christian formation coordinator at Trinity, “they sing it, they dance it, they act it out, they eat it—all the snacks are associated with the lesson for that evening.”
“We started yesterday with Elijah and Elisha,” said Anne Pollard, director of this year’s Cathedral Camp, and so the snacks were Flaming Cheetos and Red Hots (references to the chariot of fire).
“Today, we’re talking about Daniel,” said Pollard, both the writing on the wall episode and the lion’s den. The snacks were all brick-like – stacks of crackers, a wall made of Rice Krispies treats. The crafts also relate to the story and this night they were crafting lion’s faces from paper plates and yarn, and writing secret messages on paper using lemon juice.
There is also a service project component related to the story, she explained. “There’s some ‘writing on the wall’ in the parking areas, and so we’re going to remove some of that.”
The rest of the week will cover other Old Testament stories—the exile and return, Queen Esther—and then on Sunday morning children will sing the Gospel pieces they have learned this week learned for the entire congregation.
Another innovation this year is that Cathedral Camp is parishwide. The adults have their own class, led by the Rev. Christoph Keller, and are talking about the same stories as the children. It has been a success with 15–20 children, 8–10 teenage helpers, and 35–40 adults attending.
“The adults get to come do art, if they want,” said Pollard. And the Rice Krispies treats are for everyone.
Does your congregation have a vacation Bible school? If so, what are some of your innovative ideas? Share them in the comments below.
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
When Jenny and Doug Knight returned to Arkansas after serving in rural Japan with the Episcopal Young Adult Service Corps, they brought with them a newfound passion for farming. They are embarking on a three-year project at Camp Mitchell, with help from the directors and a UTO grant.
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Here’s a great little video shot and edited by Thomas Alexander, intern at the diocesan office. He’s a dynamo. Check out his blog, The Current Church.
Over the summer, Jane Holt and her associate artists created six incredible pieces of art that depict sheep in fields. These pieces were installed as window-like scenes in the level-one Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock. They were dedicated in loving memory of Jane Murrary, a dearly loved catechist at St. Margaret’s. The dedication service was held on September 22, 2013.