MABANK–The first day back from Spring Break and about 40 students from Mabank Intermediate School are happy to stay after school for an hour of fun, friendship and Bible study.
Lead by volunteers, under a national nondenominational organization, KiDs Beach Club is making an impact on students and their families.
“It’s where kids connect with God,” founder/president Jack Terrell told The Monitor.
The 20-year career children’s minister from Euless formatted the one hour of activities around large and small group activities, which includes games that reinforce the lesson.
A cardinal rule for volunteers serving with the club is adults are never to be alone with any child at anytime.
Each club is sponsored by a local church which provides the screened volunteers for training, a partnering fee and after-school snacks.
While there are strict rules and training for adults working as leaders and helpers, there’s nothing but fun, excitement and learning through activities that reinforce and connect kids to Bible truths, principals and key character words.
Five short rules keep order so fun and optimism takes center stage. These are: sit up, look up, listen up, hands up and have fun.
Youngsters start off in small groups to enjoy snacks and friends, but shortly are on their feet for a very active large group worship period that uses up excess energy. The children follow student leaders and a music video to sing and move with the songs.
This is followed by an introduction to a Bible verse and a small group game that helps them remember it. On this day, the verse is: “Let the little children come to me.” Matthew 19:14.
Leaders ask questions about the verse pointing out that parents who recognized Jesus was someone special wanted their children to meet him, too. And unlike some adults, Jesus felt the children were important and he wanted to spend time with them. That’s one of the ways Jesus showed his love for children.
“He’s never too busy for you,” the leader concludes before starting the memory game, which involved tossing a hackysack back and forth with each child tossing back with the next word in the verse. Each small group competed with the other groups to finish the verse and race to the other side of the room when finished where an adult holds a large sign with the word Jesus spelled out.
Then follows a short Bible reading, done aloud by select club members. On other weeks children see the story acted out or through various other interactive ways.
A review activity follows in small groups with some more games.
Throughout the hour, children are rewarded for appropriate behavior with tickets and points that are redeemed at the end of the hour with a trip to the treasure chest.
“The word describing Jesus’ character in this lesson,” leader Stacy Ross says, “and one he wants every follower of his to adopt is Love.”
The children are attentive and well-mannered as the hour progresses. A loving atmosphere is in evidence through their behavior and interaction with adult volunteers.
“Children have tender, open, receptive hearts,” Terrell observes, “that’s why we do Beach Club.”
Started in 2003 in Euless and expanded into a national organization in 2006, the KiDs Beach Club is in 146 schools in eight states and has more than 10,000 student enrolled.
The 2,193 volunteers , which include parents, and 107 partnering churches are Making Jesus Cool at School!®
Each third-sixth grade student participates with permission from their parents in an upbeat, positive atmosphere.
Up until this year, Bibles were presented as incentives; 24 per club, one for each week the club meets. But this year, a member of the board of directors challenged the organization to ask, “Why not provide each child with his or her own special KiDs Beach Club Bible at no cost to the children?”
At Mabank Intermediate, most of the children remembered to bring their Bibles to club time and earned points for doing so. Each child read from it and found key words from within its pages.
The KiDs Beach Club also lowers barriers between families and the partnering church through the loving volunteers that form healthy, trusting relationships within the club setting. “God is made known through his people,” Terrell said.
In Mabank ISD, a club is found in each elementary school, as well as in Kemp and Eustace intermediate schools, and Malakoff and Tool elementary schools. More are located in Athens, Brownsboro, Chandler, Ennis and Corsicana.
Nearly 10 years ago, 48 percent of families whose students participated in the club did not identify with any church affiliation.
Last year, that percentage had grown to 62 percent, Terrell said.
KiDs Beach Club opens a tremendous opportunity for partnering churches to make connections with families that have no church home, he pointed out.