“InsideOut: FruitFULL Faith” by Chalice Press is one of Building Faith’s top picks for new Vacation Bible School and summer camp curricula this year. It is a curriculum designed for summer camps that affirms God’s fruit-bearing presence in the lives of children and youth.
- Theme: Experiencing “a Spirit-filled life”
- Website: https://insideoutcurriculum.com/collections/frontpage/products/fruitfull-faith-a-spirit-filled-life
- Publisher: Chalice Press (2022)
- Church affiliation: Disciples of Christ; curriculum produced by the National Council of Churches
- Intended ages/grades: children, youth, or intergenerational/family
- Format: onsite at camp center, retreat center, or church; includes suggestions for using at a retreat, lock-in, or multi-day camp
- Number of sessions: 7
- Types of activities: arts, science and nature, group building activities, games, Bible study, prayer, physical challenges, multi-day projects
- Starter kit cost: $395 for full curriculum (contents listed at this link)
Scope and Sequence
- Day 1: Gathering Fruit | Galatians 5:16 – 26, Fruit of the Spirit
- Day 2: Love and Joy | Luke 15:3 – 7, Parable of the Lost Sheep
- Day 3: Peace | Matthew 8:23 – 27, Jesus Calms the Storm
- Day 4: Patience and Kindness | I Kings 17:8 – 16, Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath
- Day 5: Goodness and Faithfulness | Mark 12:38 – 44, Widow Giving Coins at the Temple
- Day 6: Gentleness and Self-control | I Samuel 24, David and Saul
- Day 7: Sharing Fruit | Galatians 5:16 – 26, Fruit of the Spirit (reprise)
Where It Shines
A theologically constructive theme
This curriculum focuses on the fruit of the Spirit as “evidence of God’s presence” among us. It invites participants to live in the Spirit and to notice the Spirit’s fruit in their lives. It turns to a variety of scripture stories to help participants more fully understand the fruit that Paul names in Galatians 5. The scriptures chosen reflect insightful discernment and care, and they shed fresh light on the fruit of the Spirit. Love and joy, for example, becomes lenses for exploring the parable of the lost sheep in Luke.
Materials that center historically underrepresented racial and gender identities and that address social injustice
The YouTube video playlist centers a pastor of color who offers talks on each day’s topic, and he uses feminine pronouns to refer to God, which can help participants develop a more gender-inclusive understanding of God. The curriculum also engages participants in conversation about social justice. The youth lesson on patience and kindness, for example, invites participants to talk and reflect on how power inequities often place unfair expectations on marginalized people to practice these particular fruit.
Detailed, informative daily lesson plans for leaders/counselors
Each lesson plan includes formation objectives, instructions, and supplies for a bunch of activities plus ideas to help participants process the activity afterward. Lessons also provide some background information about the scripture and a theological takeaway to aid group discussion.
Attention to safety and whole persons in formation
The leader instructions underscore the importance of “feel[ing] safe” and of being physically active to foster learning for children and youth. These notes can help leaders be mindful of participants as whole persons and formation as a holistic process that integrates body, emotions, mind, and spirit.
A design for youth and intergenerational camps as well as for children
Because this curriculum is primarily geared toward residential camp use, it offers a full-fledged program for middle and high school youth in addition to its lessons for younger and older children. It also includes lesson plans for an intergenerational or family camp.
The website for this curriculum includes several helpful resources for directors and leaders, like a “prayer packet” with various prayer activity ideas and a preparation guide with training tips and multiple Bible study methods. It also mentions access to Spotify playlists, a Facebook group, and other resources to accompany the curriculum.
What We Miss
More attention to inclusivity with respect to disabilities, gender diversity, and sexuality
One of the suggested games involves using blindfolds, which can stigmatize people with impairments or disabilities. A child and youth development resource provided by the publisher that is not part of the curriculum refers to girls and boys using gender binary language, which implicitly excludes children and adolescents who identify as nonbinary, and it makes a generalizing statement about adolescent girls in romantic relationships with adolescent boys that can implicitly reinforce heteronormativity.
The price of $395 could be a significant cost to bear for use in a congregational setting. This curriculum is designed with week-long summer camp programs in mind, which means it contains content to cover a lot more time in a day for more days than many VBS curricula do. Even so, because this curriculum can be adapted to several different church uses, we wish that it had a purchase option that could accommodate the budgets of more communities.
Featured image is by Sokmean Nou on Unsplash