VBS and Camp Review 2023: Changemakers Lab

“Changemakers Lab” by Brethren Press and MennoMedia is one of Building Faith’s top picks for new Vacation Bible School and summer camp curricula this year. This VBS curriculum highlights God’s love and seeks to help children understand that they can change the world for the better.


The Basics

Scope and Sequence

  • Day 1: Changemakers Ask Questions | John 3:1 – 17, Nicodemus
  • Day 2: Changemakers Work Together to Solve Problems | Mark 2:1 – 12, Five Friends
  • Day 3: Changemakers Respond to the Needs of Others | Acts 2:42 – 47, Early Church
  • Day 4: Changemakers Build Bridges | Acts 10, Peter and Cornelius
  • Day 5: Changemakers Create a New Kind of World | Isaiah 65:17 – 25, A New World

Where It Shines

A theme grounded in God’s love and changing the world for the better
At the heart of this curriculum lies the message that God loves each of us and the world. It illuminates our ability, individually and collectively, to create positive change in the world. The daily story summaries and Bible essays are a good length, are easy to follow, and offer valuable insight into the scripture.

An explicit goal of relationship building
It emphasizes cooperation and weaves multiple opportunities for interpersonal connection into each day. The game station, for example, includes both cooperative and competitive game options. The curriculum also provides daily take-home cards that offer activities to do as a family.

Materials that exhibit racial and gender diversity and inclusivity
The student book includes racially diverse images, and the Bible drama skits include female and male main characters.

A discovery learning model with age-appropriate activities for children
Discussion questions are open-ended and crafted to encourage meaningful conversation rather than specific answers. Many of the art activities are open-ended as well, allowing for a variety of creative expressions rather than a prescribed outcome. The leaders guide offers specific guidance on creating a safe environment physically as well as emotionally.

Organized and flexible resources for directors and leaders
The leader guide is well laid out, easy to follow, and not overwhelming. One of the best features of the leader guide is an incredibly specific “Volunteer Task List” with items that can be done ahead of time as well as the week of. While there are only three stations (plus a snack station), the ample number of options for the STEAM and games stations make it possible to create additional stations. There are children’s books and YouTube video suggestions for each day. The curriculum is designed to be used in a 2.5-hour block for five days, but the director guide offers multiple adaptations including ten-session and weekend versions.

What We Miss

More attention to justice, service, and creation care
The justice and service components are not as explicit or central as some of the previous curriculum from this publisher, although Day 3 does focus on the early church’s equitable sharing of resources. The service element of this curriculum is limited to financial giving, rather than engaging children in a more active form of service. There is not much attention given to creation care.

More simplified supply list
Depending on the activities selected, there could be a significant number of supplies to collect or purchase and prepare.

More guidance on decorating
There is less attention given to decoration than some other VBS curricula, which some communities may miss in their planning process.

Featured image is by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels

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