It’s the rare child who can resist a smile when in the presence of a panda.
The theme at this year’s Vacation Bible School, set for late July at St. Peter United Church of Christ in Lake Zurich, involves a whole pack of the two-toned cuddly creatures.
Pandamania welcomes children ages 3 to 10 for five three-hour weekday mornings of scripture study combined with summer adventure. The sessions run from 9 a.m. to noon July 25 through July 29.
“The panda theme is a curriculum,” said Beth Christianson, St. Peter’s Christian education director, adding that it’s a program offered by Group, a Christian education vendor. “We’ve done their curriculum for the past few years.”
Pandamania is aimed at younger children but gives children ages 11 and up a chance to get involved, too, she said. Older children serve as crew leaders, mentoring their younger counterparts.
After congregating together for an opening song, prayer and an introduction to the day’s activities, students break into smaller groups and visit a series of “stations.”
There’s a Bible adventure station, where a specific scripture is explored, a station where students make craft projects, a station where students play games and a movie station, where videos are screened that are designed to show children “how God is involved with them in their daily life,” Christianson said.
There’s also a daily snack time and an end-of-the-day wrap-up where the entire group joins together.
Christianson said several other area churches are presenting a Pandamania program at their Vacation Bible Schools offered during different weeks this summer. While St. Peter is investing in its own supplies and equipment for the event, the church is sharing the decorations with other churches to conserve resources, she said.
Those who attend will each receive a T-shirt commemorating Pandamania, along with a music CD with tunes from the experience.
So far, Christianson said, 78 children have registered for Pandamania. Last year, she said, 110 children participated. All denominations are welcome, she said.
“It so much more fun when there are more kids,” she said. “We draw from all over the community. It really is about them getting to know God a little more.”
Some students hail from beyond Lake Zurich’s borders, from as far away as Wauconda and Deerfield, she said.
The cost is $20 for each family’s first child and $35 for all children in a family. There’s still time to register. Information is available at www.stpeterlz.org.