(Photo by Gloriann Martin)

By Gloriann Martin, USAG Fort Meade Public Affairs 

FORT MEADE, MD – The yearly Vacation Bible School – a unique opportunity for military-connected families to foster spiritual growth and community bonding event – takes place this week from Aug. 7 to 11 at the Argonne Hills Chapel Center here. 

This event, staffed by dedicated volunteers, caters to children aged 5 to 11, providing a platform for spiritual enrichment and interactive engagement, while simultaneously allowing adults to contribute to their community, said U.S. Army Counterintelligence Command, Operations Support Battalion Chaplain, Cpt. Homer Edwards. 

"Vacation Bible School provides a spiritual readiness and family support opportunity for the children of families living and working on Fort Meade. The significance of this event is to make a positive lasting impact on all who participate,” he said. 

Edwards shared a memory that stood out to him for its profound impact on the participants at this year's VBS, when he explained that a shy 9-year-old boy volunteered to lead the prayer at the conclusion of one of the events this week. 

Chaplain (Major) Robert Sterling, the Family Life Chaplain of U.S. Army Garrison Fort George G. Meade, articulates the objectives of VBS:  

"The goal of Vacation Bible School is twofold. First, we want to provide military connected children ages 5-11 with a fun, safe, interactive way to improve their spiritual fitness. Second, we want to provide caring adults with an opportunity to serve their community through leading small groups, games, music, and administrative aspects of the event." 

"The volunteers, drawn from various congregations, unite their efforts in preparation and execution, underscoring their common purpose despite separate worship times. Moreover, VBS allows newcomers to the Fort Meade community a chance to connect before the school year begins,” said Sterling, emphasizing the two-fold aspect of community-building. 

"[The primary objective is to] help children develop their own faith life, their own spiritual resiliency, just to let them have some fun,” according to Ms. Sheila Stewart, the Religious Education Director, who provided insights into the operational dynamics and significance of VBS. 

"It does bring in a lot of new families sometimes, depending on the school year and a few other factors. Doing it in August is a really great community outreach tool,” notes Stewart. 

The theme of this year's VBS, "Stellar: Shine Jesus' Light," reflects the aim to provide a sense of hope amid challenges. Each day's program revolves around a distinct gospel theme, delivering engaging activities, interactive Bible lessons, STEM-based crafts, and inspiring stories of shining Jesus' light. 

For potential volunteers interested in joining the effort next year, contact Ms. Sheila Stewart sheila.m.stewart.civ@army.mil or call (301) 677-6038. Stay informed about events at the Chapel Center by visiting the Fort Meade Garrison RSO Facebook page and congregational pages. 

Editor’s Note: This article was written with the assistance of ChatGPT, a language model developed by OpenAI.