Santa Clarita Baptist Church offers a refreshing alternative to vacation bible school

Families enjoy mingling, Jenga, corn hole and other activities on a break during the Refresh one-day Bible camp. Matt Fernandez/The Signal

Summertime in Santa Clarita is no stranger to the weeklong, child-oriented vacation bible school. Santa Clarita Baptist Church wanted to offer a refreshing alternative.

On Sunday, Santa Clarita Baptist Church held its first Refresh conference, a one-day family Bible Camp.

“The thing with a vacation bible school is that you don’t get to interact with the parents very much, and the people of Santa Clarita are very big on family, so we wanted to do something where you don’t have to worry about scheduling or dropping your kids off but can enjoy it as a family,” said Matthew McLain, youth pastor for SCBC. “We care about people from babies to adults. If you reach out to children, that message doesn’t always reach the parents, but when you reach the parents they don’t always think about how the message applies to raising their children. Today, we wanted to pull in both groups and teach them how to be a family that pleases God.”

Refresh began with breakfast and fellowship time before switching gears into fellowship and lecture sessions. Since the day was for both children and adults, there were separate lecture sessions geared toward both age groups. Lecture sessions were broken up by lunch and activity periods where attendees could bond through games like Jenga, cornhole, card games and networking. In the afternoon, the church also set up a bounce house and water slide for the children.

Stephen Chandler, who has attended the church for about a half a year volunteered to help run the event and facilitate some of the activities for the children. 

“Today is different because of all the activities and all the food we have, but there’s still a lot of good preaching, so it’s good that today we’ve been able to reach out to families in a way that most other church services have not,” Chandler said. “We recently went to Idaho to host a vacation bible school for kids, but what I think makes this better is that we give the parents a break from watching kids while also giving them the opportunity to grow closer to the word of God. This is a good way for the entire family to understand what it’s like to be a child of God and to also get in some good fellowship.”

Scott Gilmore has been a patron of SCBC for over 30 years and said that aside from just helping the active church community, Refresh was a good outreach opportunity for the church since it was on a Sunday, when many people already go to church.

McLain said he felt that having a one-day event for the whole family is important, especially with the hectic Southern California lifestyle and that he hopes to hold some more events like it in the future, and possibly doing something in the winter as well as summer.

“This is a learning event for us, and though the curriculum wasn’t difficult since we’ve done vacation bible schools before, the challenge was getting all the moving parts together, but we’ll learn from this for future years,” McLain said. “People in Southern California are crazy busy. I think families are really looking for something like this to do together and the advantage of our program is that it’s one day.”

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