Children attending Vacation Bible School next week will learn about God among the towering grasses and exotic beasts of Africa -- all in Hayden's back yard.
Volunteers with Mission of Grace Baptist Church and Hayden Congregational Church have worked hard to transform the Baptist church into the Bible school's theme: Serengeti Trek.
"The church doesn't even look recognizable when we're done. ... It's like letting these kids step into another world," volunteer Lisa Zirkle said.
Colorful murals painted by Rosalee Bosick are an example of the commitment and enthusiasm behind the popular Bible school, which has been a joint effort between the two churches for four years.
"People never cease to amaze me," Zirkle said. "This stuff is awesome -- it's professional."
The Bible school is from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday.
During that time, children ages 4 through sixth-graders will break into groups to discuss their relation to God, gradually working up to the fourth day and most important lesson about God's gifts, Zirkle said.
"That's a pretty powerful day," she said.
Children will participate in activities -- including crafts, games and singalongs -- that help engage all of their senses.
"Even the snack is tied to the lesson," Zirkle said.
The Serengeti theme provides catch phrases, a fun setting and an overall memorable experience for the children.
"The kids get a kick out of it," she said.
Between 30 and 40 people have donated time and materials to the Bible school, and about three months of planning and preparation have gone into the program.
With that kind of dedication, it's no surprise the school has become a summer staple in Hayden, with 70 to 90 children attending each year.
Through the years, organizers have worked to schedule the program so as not to conflict with other summer events. They hope the earlier schedule this year will help bring more children.
"We would love to have the problem of having more kids than we planned on," Zirkle said.
Children may register for the camp by calling Barbara May at the Baptist church at 276-3111. They also may register at the camp at 8:30 a.m. Monday.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail email@example.com.