This is the introduction to a free Western Themed VBS we’re posting here on the website. We hope you enjoy and would love feedback from any churches who use this material.
- Click here to download the 48-page director’s manual
Howdy! Welcome to a rowdy Western adventure romp through the pages of history and the Bible. This Vacation Bible School program will take you through a series of Bible stories that highlight characters who were “outlaws,” defying norms (and sometimes even laws!) if that’s what it took to follow God and hold fast to righteousness. And just wait until we meet the surprising ultimate rebel of the Bible….(spoiler alert: He happens to be God’s son!) Along the way, we will enjoy making fun cowboy crafts, sampling some tasty snacks, playing some “galloping games,” and practicing our frontier skills! It’s all part of a unique and memorable VBS program.
As you embark on this journey, please take a moment to pray for your program. Ask that God would use the stories, activities, and songs to make lasting impressions on the lives of participants. Even more so, ask that the people leading and participating would demonstrate the love of God and be vessels of it. VBS has powerful potential to impact the lives of our children.
Outlined here are several suggested possibilities to make your Vacation Bible School terrific. The schedule lay-out is based on a week-long (five-day) program with roughly three hours of Vacation Bible School each day. Of course, these are all mere ideas. All are highly adaptable to suit the individual characteristics and needs of your groups and programs, so please feel free to adjust and alter as much as needed. This is hopefully a great springboard from which to launch with your own creative ideas and activities. Giddyup!
Outlaws for God:
An Adventure in the Wild West and the Word!
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? -Psalm 27:1
Day One VBS Overview
Craft: Let’s be cowboys (and girls)! Add decorations (jewels, paint, pens) to bandanas to wear like real cowboys and cowgirls!
*Alternative (younger crowd? Bandanas too expensive or not attainable?): Make paper bag cowboy “vests” and cardboard star “spurs.”
Game(s): Play “barn yard” game: somewhat like “sharks and minnows,” but students must cross a field when their “animal” is called off; if “barnyard” is called all kids run and cowhand “rope wrangler” tries to tag them.
Also play horse shoes and/or ring toss
Bible Story: This week we will look at some “outlaw” figures who did strange, challenging, or amazing things for God. First we peek at Gideon…with just a tiny army and some trumpets and pitchers, Gideon defeated the powerful force of the Midianites! We will hear how God used Gideon’s faith and willingness to lead for standing up to the enemy. This guy was ready to go against the grain and follow God no matter what his directions were. (Judges 7)
Music: Fun younger student songs like “The Farmer in the Dell” and “Old MacDonald;” older kids start working on special camp songs.
Frontier Fun: Gold “mining…” talk about life in olden days and touch briefly on how men would pan for gold…hide gold “nuggets” or small rocks in the midst of different materials: sand, grits, etc. Help students sift water and look for gold nuggets.
Snack: Chow down trail mix…put together cups with raisins, cereal, and extra items to make tasty trail-riding trail mix.
Extras: Welcome to VBS! We’ll receive group assignments, nametags, and learn about what is to come.
Day Two VBS Overview
Craft: Animal collage…We will draw a picture with crayon and use some special supplies (hay, animal crackers, etc.) to jazz it up a bit!
Game(s): Potato sack races! We’ll enjoy some hoppin’ action, and we will also have goofy-footed relays: duck waddle, horse gallop, frog hop, etc.
Story: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego… This was not just a wilderness campfire. The three friends were kidnapped from their homes and taken to Babylon, but they stood up for their faith. We will hear and act out how the Hebrews followed God and escaped the fiery furnace. (Daniel 1-3)
Music: “Home on the Range” and fun farm songs to celebraate.
Frontier Fun: Creating a frontier snack…we will work together to make corn bread (or corn pudding perhaps?). We will also sample forms of corn: popcorn, corn chips, and regular corn!
Snack: Cowboys had campfires, and what’s a campfire without s’mores? We will enjoy a s’mores buffet of sorts with a variety of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.
Extras: Do you have animal-themed or animal print clothing? Wear it for animal spirit day! Or just dress in the color of your favorite animal.
Day Three VBS Overview
Craft: Horse and lasso…We will use chunks of pool noodles and decorating supplies to create our own “horse stick” friends. We will also braid together yarn to make special “lasso” ropes (aka horse reins).
Game(s): “Horse and wagon”: Students will work in teams to race around the field with a “driver” behind and “horse”(s) in front, running around attached.
“Rope the cow”: Use jump ropes to “catch” balls/balloons and “herd” them into hula hoop corrals.
Story: Deborah, Barak, and a woman with a tent peg! Today’s story features a female judge from the Old Testament, Deborah, and a chilling prophecy she made about an encounter with enemies…these “outlaw” characters fulfilled God’s will with their boldness. (Judges 4)
Music: Continue cowboy songs and Western favorites… “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain…” “Beans, beets, oats and barley groats”
Frontier Fun: A real live horse! Or something like it…Conditions permitting, we will meet a “real cowboy” today, complete with real horse. We will talk about horses and animals, and observe. If you’re fresh out of “live” cowboys, you can also create a horse of sorts with hay bales, wagons, and/or saddles real or imaginary.
Snack: Taste our corn bread from yesterday, along with string cheese “horse sticks.”
Extras: Crazy hat day! And don’t forget tomorrow is water day…be prepared to get a little wet! Also bring a plain white shirt to decorate!
Day Four VBS Overview
Craft: Stamping and branding! We will design (for older kids) our own stamps by cutting rubber pieces…younger will use pre-made stamps. All students will have opportunity to “brand” themselves with fun temporary tattoos! Optional: we will also create our own VBS souvenir shirts!
Game(s): “Elijah’s miraculous oil…” Water day! We will have some splashy fun with water balloons and bucket games today. Wear something you can get wet!
Story: Elijah’s exciting escape and providence. Elijah was a Biblical outlaw if ever there was one…he was banished by Ahab and chased away by Jezebel, hiding and returning and wrestling with God. Today we will look at Elijah’s experience in the wilderness as God took care of Him with birds. We will also look briefly at his subsequent encounter with a widow and her son, and learn God always takes care of us. (1 Kings 17)
Music: Continue frontier fun themed songs (“She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain,” “Home on the Range,” etc….) along with square dance intro (continued in frontier fun).
Frontier Fun: Let’s line dance! Today we will meet a special guest musician and learn a mini-lesson in do-si-do line dance fun.
Snack: Fresh fruit and wiggly Jell-O!
Extras: Water day excitement today! That may or may not wash off the ink and marker from tattoo/branding day, though…
Day Five VBS Overview
Craft: Hats and badges…We will use plates and bowls to make cowboy “hats” of a sort, decorating and attaching to look like a real hat. We will also use star-shaped cardboard to make sheriff badges. Also finish shirts and sign our names.
Game(s): Tumbleweed kickball! Also select our favorites from earlier in the week’s daily game fun!
Story: Jesus upsets the temple tables…the ultimate outlaw! We will learn today that sometimes it is okay to be mad, but that God is responsible for fixing things. We’ll also see Jesus show everyone who is boss.
Music: Final practice and celebration of weekly music! Wrap up and review our songs for the week.
Frontier Fun: Train ride…talk about transportation in the Wild West and experience a virtual “train ride” experience.
Snack: Twizzler rope licorice “whips” and carrot and pretzel rod sticks (leftover fruit, too).