GODFREY — Vacation Bible School director Susie Delano says children spend less time outside, and three days at the Nature Institute in Godfrey is the answer.
“It’s the perfect excuse to get outside,” Delano says.
The Nature Institute is the host location for a Vacation Bible School June 8-10. Delano says there is an open invitation to anyone who is interested.
“Everyone, regardless of religious affiliation or non-affiliation, is welcome, free of charge,” Delano says.
Presbyterian churches in the area teamed up 10 years ago to start the Bible school. In its earlier days, the conglomerate rotated the program between four participating churches. One church has since closed and another now has its own VBS. Delano said the remaining group wanted a more neutral location so no one would feel they were stepping on someone else’s turf. A new location was chosen in 2010 to get more people involved.
“We decided that we wanted to branch out and really reach out to the community,” Delano says.
The Nature Institute, 2213 S. Levis Lane, was chosen and fit into the theme perfectly. Although each year is different, connecting to God through nature is the program’s staple theme.
A nonprofit land conservation and environmental education organization, the Nature Institute was founded in 1980 and works to build awareness and appreciation of the natural world through preservation, restoration and education. More than 8,000 children visit the center during field trips each year.
The program will be held from 5:30 until 8 p.m. each night, with participants separated into small groups and rotated among the stations, including craft and snack areas. Each day begins and ends with a devotional. Delano says their mission is to teach how to be good stewards of the God-given gift of nature and the environment.
“We always have a lot of fun,” Delano says.
Delano says they are preparing to have a lot of fun while spreading the gospel that “God wants us to take care of the gift of nature.” A lot of preparation has gone into this each year, but one thing was already taken care of.
“We don’t have to decorate,” Delano says. “God has already done that for us. No need to fix perfection.”
For more information, call (618) 465-3592. Pre-registration is not required.
Community involvement is also a big part of Elm Street Presbyterian’s mission. A meal mission is offered at 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Saturday, providing free lunches.