by Rebecka Colldunberg

Rules … Ask any child or young adult what they think of rules and you will probably hear, ‘yuck!’, ‘bleugh!’, or variations of both. You might witness anything from feigned nausea to a spectacularly elaborate, gravity-defying eye-roll. In short: children don’t like rules. Let’s be honest: most adults aren’t too keen on them either.

So who had the crazy idea of subjecting a group of children to a holiday camp based on—you guessed it—rules? Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Toowoomba, Queensland, holds an annual Holiday Bible Adventure during the summer school holidays. Each year, the three-day event has a different biblical theme, where primary-school-age children are able to explore specific areas of the Bible in fun ways.

‘The theme for this year was “House Rules”’, said Good Shepherd’s event coordinator, Debbie Salzke. ‘Our house rules were God’s rules: the Ten Commandments.

‘We decided on the Ten Commandments after looking at what was currently popular on TV and within society. House Rules had just been on the TV and children and adults alike were talking about it.

‘We all know that society and laws of democratic countries are founded on the Ten Commandments and they are the rules to live by, so we thought it would be good to go back to basics and teach those commandments to the children in an entertaining way’, Debbie said.

The congregation’s ladies fellowship made special fabric tool-belts for each child, which the children painted and decorated and used in the activities over the course of the event.

‘Through stories and games, songs, cooking, sewing, scrapbooking, mosaics and sewing, the children learnt all about God’s commandments’, Debbie said. ‘A good time was had by all, and we leaders often heard the children wishing that the event lasted a lot longer.’

As well as learning about the Ten Commandments, the theme of building was incorporated into the event. The children learnt several Bible stories, notably the parable of the Two Builders and the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel. Some serious role-playing took place as several older male parishioners erected a building site.

At one point the children welcomed a special surprise visitor: Pastor Brenton Fiedler exchanged his vestments for high-visibility work gear. ‘The children were enthralled when “Brenton the Brickie”, our very own pastor, came in and told the story of Jesus, the cornerstone of the church’, Debbie said.

‘When the children first arrived, some of them were very shy and quiet, but by the end of the three days—wow! They were loud and thoroughly enjoying themselves, wishing that the Holiday Bible Adventure could have gone on for another three days. The most important thing of all was that every one of the 49 children could quote the Ten Commandments without even blinking an eye. As many of the children left on the last day, they were asking to put their names down for next year.’

Subscribe here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full