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Cloudy,36°
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Each day of vacation Bible school at St. Frances de Chantal Church in Wantagh started out with songs and prayers under the big tent. The program ran from Aug. 4-15 at the parish school.
Vacation Bible School
Finding fun in faith
Andrew Hackmack/Herald
Christopher and Sadie Coppola were among the nearly 300 children who participated over the two-week program.

Fun could be found just about everywhere at St. Frances de Chantal school during the last two weeks, as the parish hosted its annual vacation Bible school. Appropriately, this year’s theme was “Everywhere Fun Fair.”

The focus was on teaching the children how to be good neighbors. They studied other countries and cultures, to learn about their neighbors around the world.

The camp ran for two weeks, beginning Aug. 4, and was held each weekday morning. Nearly 300 children took part in the program, with about 150 per week. “Some kids have so much fun the first week, they want to come back and do it all over,” said co-director Lucy Creed.

This was the second year Creed, the parish’s director of Faith Formation, and Susan Vaccaro, a Catholic school teacher at Our Lady of Peace in Lynbrook, have run the program. Creed said despite a year hiatus in 2012, vacation Bible school has been an institution at St. Frances for more than two decades.

The children were not alone in their journey in learning about God, their faith and their neighbors. The “bigs,” students in grades 6-8, joined in and served as big brothers and big sisters to the “littles.” There were also several high school and adult volunteers.

Nick Caracappa, 22, a graduate of Wantagh High School and a pre-medicine student at NYIT, was the director of games, which were held outdoors as long as the weather permitted.

Caracappa started out coming to vacation Bible school as a camper when he was in pre-K, so his involvement with the program spans close to 20 years. His family has been parishioners at the church for more than 30 years.

“I enjoy being with the kids,” he said, adding that as part of the focus on being a good neighbor, he taught them good sportsmanship and how to work as a team.

Melissa Swanson, of Wantagh, was one of the teachers, and her daughter is involved as the program as well, moving from camper to big sister.

Swanson said that the program brings faith into local families, as children go home and talk about what they learned at vacation Bible school. “It’s a great program,” she said. “It brings God into the children’s lives in a fun and exciting way.”

Every morning, the entire camp gathered under a tent in the parking lot for prayers and songs. The children then broke into groups and rotated through a variety of activities including games, arts and crafts, and Bible study.

“This is a nice way to be with the kids,” Vaccaro said, “because it’s not school but they’re still learning.”

Creed said that the program is a lot less structured than a typical religious education class, which many of the campers attend during the school year. The goal of vacation Bible school, she explained, is to show that there is joy in practicing their faith.

“Our philosophy,” Creed said, “is as long as the kids are having a good time, learning about God, it’s all good.”

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