As we venture into summer camps the team is ecstatic for the work ahead. But for there to be a “camp” or VBS, there is a need for the material to be taught during this time to be intentional, relevant, and most of all biblically aligned and impactful for a generation to be reached out by it. So this week in the calm before the storm. We took time to reflect on the lessons learned about the lessons taught. And gave some extra thought about developing a somewhat new aspect of ministry being done at BCE-the development of our very own summer camps curriculum.
I spoke this week to Danielly and Leah who are busy making final preparations before camps. We discussed the steps taken to develop and execute the curriculum this year and last year.
There was always a dream to start the productions and use this as a tool to continue reaching out to the children and youth of Belize. But when it came to the curriculum it was more a need to launch our very own. The curriculum that we were obtaining throughout most of the years for summer camps was drastically changed due to the way they were structured for more of a North American audience. For example, most would have stations versus what we usually do in our camps which is small groups. We are also always seeking to include different Belizean elements and context to material already available. In this ongoing effort, the team decided it was better to write the curriculum from scratch if that much effort was being placed into it already, Leah explained.
Last year that needs was even more pronounced. The team was getting ready to carry out camps as usual and had already secured the curriculum entitled “Suit up”.With the country shutting down due to covid there was no chance to do camps. The team quickly picked up the pieces, as the idea was thrown out to record the material already designated for summer into episode pieces. “SUIT UP!” looked at the ‘Armor of God’ and how it can help us stand strong in an evil world by looking at the life of Paul, the Apostle- an appropriate message for a troubling time. The focus was placed only on production first, and then after only in developing the curriculum. And finally preparing to use the curriculum for camps. The production and curriculum are sometimes synonymous, but in some cases dual. In this case, the elements of the production like the were to be played during the camps and were integral, but also the episodes are designed to stand alone. The gospel hand motions, “sword stories” which was a particular story is about the life of Paul, and “armor spotlight”- the item being discussed in the armor of God and the Bible reference relevant to it. Were all elements from the productions to be included during camp.
The partners had also access to the material and would do other aspects of it themselves. Such as the teaching, memory verse-among other things. Since there was limited opportunity to have camps only a small window during summer in July, we decided to give the curriculum to whoever requested it for them to figure out how to carry it out. And it spread all over the country and even to some churches in North America. And still available. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1EaVAW6o4whb2G-qy6Sl9NEXSD4gCzl3Y?usp=sharing
We didn’t have much opportunity to train our partners with the material but there was a run-through done with them to get them acquainted with it. Despite all the unknowns, camps were still held throughout itand we received the news of churches all over the country who were appreciative of the effort a Belizean ministry had placed into writing material for Belize.
With the positive feedback garnered from our partners in ministry and with the fresh success of the launch of our productions and curriculum, the team at BCE took the challenge anew. With renewed focus and much more time in our hands, we started the whole process early in the year. The material to be used in production was already fleshed out late in the previous year. And in the first few months, preparations and filming for productions were already underway. The theme for this year’s curriculum “The Good News Network”, a message about the good news of Jesus’ ministry and ultimate sacrifice for us to gain salvation. Also, a very apt topic for the times, as the country was desperate to hear a message of hope after a year of only dire times.
With sufficient time in our hands and the restrictions due to the pandemic easing up, there was more opportunity to be as intentional as we can with this year’s productions. So we made it a point to include our partners in different aspects of this year’s production. They participated in things such as leading worship songs and memory verses. As Danielly and other members of the team carried out her follow-ups with the different clubs and partners, she was also exposing the children to different elements. Like some of the songs, verses, and lessons too. This year’s productions also allowed us to widen the scope of Belizean-ness to our curriculum as we included interviews with prominent Belizean figures and how their work also honors Christ’s calling for their life. It also saw the launch of a mission story of a soul who is close to us physically and in our hearts- our very own missionary Ozni Torres. These both will form part of the larger curriculum.
The episodes will debut later next month, but the launch of our curriculum to the general public will be delayed until next year. As we take on a full summer of camps and ministry we are wanted to fully examine the curriculum, as we put it to the test during the execution of it. We want to have a sufficient buffer timewise to pick up any faulty areas or overall areas of improvement before we launch a final curriculum to the country. As of this point, we are on the precipice of carrying this task out and hopeful for a great summer of ministry.
As we nervously peek into the coming years of ministry we are certain that this material will far outlive its costs due to the impact it has had in these two years of its being launched. Churches, partners, and clubs are all blessed by the material and entire nation- especially its children exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the airing of productions in the media houses and by attending different camps throughout the country. As we continue the work, we are already in talk of how to make more Belizean and more local. Our next challenge is to write songs that are local in origin to go all along with it. It is imperative for us for it to be our own because it highlights the context of Belizean society which richly unique, and desperately in need to hear the gospel message with a local flavor. After all, want to be BELIZE changing BELIZE.