“Ready, Set, Move: Follow Jesus Here, There, and Everywhere” by Orange did not rank among Building Faith’s top picks for new Vacation Bible School and summer camp curricula this year. This VBS curriculum about the journey of faith as Jesus’s disciples struggles to engage children in faith formation in empowering and theologically fruitful ways.
- Theme: The journey of faith as disciples of Jesus
- Website: https://orangevbs.com
- Publisher: Orange (2023)
- Church affiliation: independent
- Intended ages/grades: preschool, elementary
- Format: onsite at church
- Number of sessions: 5
- Types of activities: worship, crafts, music and dance, games, service projects
- Starter kit cost: $249 for complete kit of digital materials (kit contents listed at this link)
Scope and Sequence
- Day 1: Do What Jesus Says | Matthew 7:24 – 29, Sand and Rock
- Day 2: Believe Who Jesus Is | Matthew 16:13 – 20, Who Do You Say I Am?
- Day 3: Love Who Jesus Loves | John 21:15 – 25, Easter Story/Jesus Forgives Peter
- Day 4: Share What Jesus Did | Acts 2, Pentecost
- Day 5: Go Where Jesus Leads | Acts 17:16 – 24, Paul in Athens
Where It Shines
A theologically promising theme
This curriculum’s overall theme of the journey of faith with Jesus is a helpful theological starting place for faith formation.
Flexible options for activities
The curriculum includes multiple options for several activities, which enables communities to adapt the curriculum to their particular needs. It notes a way to implement a prayer activity if a community opts out of purchasing the publisher’s “passports” (a small pocket-size notebook for the week) for each participant. It also provides separate supply lists and instructions for either performing the included story skits live or showing the DVD recording of the skits that the curriculum offers.
Ideas for tailoring decorating in various ways
Rather than recommending one way to decorate church spaces for the program, this curriculum suggests multiple ideas for constructing a set or incorporating decorations around the journeying theme. This emphasis on inspiration for decorating rather than executing one predetermined plan can be helpful for tailoring the aesthetic design to a community’s particular spaces, needs, and interests.
What We Miss
An empowering approach to children’s formation
The language used in this curriculum casts following Jesus as the way to be “strong,” “wise,” and “the best.” It places an emphasis on obedience in how it characterizes following Jesus. Conversely, it represents not following Jesus as “foolish” and as leading to “mak[ing] bad choices that will only cause more problems.” Because this approach to formation gravitates toward pressure and conformity, it creates an emotionally charged atmosphere for participants in which questions and uncertainty can feel unsafe.
Critical and careful attention to scriptures’ contexts
This curriculum largely ignores the contexts in which scriptures are situated and treats verses and passages as if they were primarily written for contemporary Christians. It also uses a couple verses from passages with violent content that does not seem appropriate for children (Hebrews 12:1 – 13 and Nahum 1:1 – 11). These approaches to scripture pose obstacles to helping participants learn to read and interpret scripture in informed and responsible ways.
More sensitivity toward diversity, inclusivity, and representation with respect to race and disabilities
While the curriculum features artists of color in its theme song music video, other materials lack adequate attention to equity with regard to race and disability. The storytelling video about the parable of the wise and foolish builders shows an actor who appears to be a white woman as the representative of a wise building company and an actor who appears to be an African American woman as the representative of a foolish building company. The script and scenes implicitly reinscribe racially offensive stereotypes. The curriculum also uses “special needs” language and includes a blindfold activity, which can stigmatize people with impairments and disabilities.
More attention to participants’ safety and creation care
One of the object lessons in the sample materials includes an activity involving pouring acetone onto styrofoam. Not only would we have preferred eco-conscious materials instead of styrofoam, but the activity instructions raised concerns for us about participants’ safety. The only precaution recommended in the curriculum is to have children stay at a distance while the leader pours the acetone. It does not note the importance of ventilation or the high flammability of acetone (see this CDC info sheet on acetone). Additionally, the activity instructions advocate concealing the acetone in an unlabeled container so that participants do not know what the liquid is. These choices run the risk of jeopardizing participants’ and leaders’ health and safety in this activity.
Featured image is by Fabian Quintero on Unsplash
I just wish these reviews could be published a month earlier. Our VBS is the first week in June, and we have to get started in February.
Jodi Belcher (she/her/hers)
Jinny, thank you for your comment and for this feedback! We understand that communities’ VBS planning schedules vary, and we appreciate your interest in our VBS and camp reviews. We’ll keep your suggestion in mind for the future.