At our church, we've had the habit of Summer Bible School since about the middle of the last century. Somewhere about 1955 was the first time according to someone who was alive back then. I wasn't on the scene just yet; I wouldn't arrive until 1956.
We would have a fit if we had to do Bible school like we used to back in the old days. These days we have air conditioned rooms with actual walls on the sides. Back then it was hot as all get-out and there were half a dozen different classes crowded down in the small church basement divided up by curtains stretched around on wires. Looking back, it seems more like a recipe for a zoo instead of a Bible school. But we always had a great time.
Back then we had class in the forenoon. That was so the farmers could do their chores in the morning, come for Bible school, and then have the afternoon and evening to work. We've had evening classes for many years now. And we're one of the very few that still go for two weeks.
Some things have changed, but many things are still the same. One sad thing is hearing younger and younger boys and girls talking about "relationships". As in, "I was 'going with' so and so back in the 3rd grade but then we broke up, etc. etc."
Another thing might be shorter attention spans due (in my opinion) to overstimulation from way too much TV and video-computer games. In one class the teacher decided instead of giving each student a "goodie bag" at the end of the two weeks, (which might be mostly candy, etc) she would give them a nice book. Something that would have value for the long term. So she spent about 15 dollars per student. But most of the students didn't seem to have any appreciation for the book and some of them expressed disappointment over not receiving the standard"goodie bag".
And then you have all the disorders out there that have reached epidemic proportions these days. This didn't happen at our Bible school, but one of the church ladies was telling of a girl she taught in a Bible school several years ago in another place.
The girl warned her right up front at the beginning of Bible school that she had three personalities. Nan was quick to inform her that she wanted all three of them to behave in her class.
But some things stay the same. You still have some children that sit spellbound on the edge of the bench listening to what you have to say.
And there are always little things that warm your heart in some way. This year I had some interaction with five year old Margie. Her real name is Margaret, but they call her Margie, with the "g" sound, not the "j".
Margie couldn't actually come to Bible school this year because we've dropped the 1st Kindergarten class and only have the kindergartners that will be starting 1st grade this fall. Now to look at Margie, you would think she was a very shy little girl and I had never had any conversations with her before. But was I ever wrong!
She came up to me one evening and expressed her desire to come to Bible school. I asked about her age and so forth and we figured out she would be going to 1st grade next fall and so she could come to Bible school next year.
Every evening at the end of Bible school this year I told about different birds and the things that make them unique. And Margie must have been there one of those times. (probably with her mom when her mom was one of the "snack ladies")
Anyway, towards the end of Bible school she came smiling up to me again. "I came to Bible school one night", she said, just a little triumphantly. "I came the night you preached on owls!" And she made big circles around her eyes with her hands to illustrate what I had shown them; that if owls were as big as humans their eyes would be as big as oranges.
And there's always a little humor along the way. My wife Mary's 5th grade class was a lively bunch. Not really bad, just lively. Mary would tell them every evening that they weren't babies and that they could listen and behave. Well one evening they were being extra ornery and weren't listening. Here's how the conversation went:
Mary: "Ok! I've changed my mind! Yall ARE babies!"
Reshaun: "Not me! I just grew a chest hair!"
Craig: "Was it blond?"
The class dissolves in gales of laughter. (teacher included)