An integral part of VBS at St. Mark has always been the skits. Though the actors have changed over the years, the level of goofiness and godliness remains the same.
I should start off this post by introducing myself. My name is Sydney Schoff and I have been an intern at St. Mark this summer with a focus on VBS. I have been writing this blog and working on other projects for the week. But this is not my first go-around with VBS.
After I was a camper, I began volunteering as a helper. One of the new roles I found myself having once I became a helper was to do the skits that started each day. But being the reserved young person that I was, I wasn’t about to get on that stage alone.
Mrs. Bridgit Goedeke quickly recruited my best friend, Anna Wojciechowski, to take part in this new endeavor as well. Mrs. Bridgit has known that Anna and I were a package deal since the fourth grade, so placing us in skits wasn’t a very far leap.
Neither Anna nor myself really favored being in the spotlight, but we were willing to try just about anything if we could do it together. We had been such a prominent presence in each other’s faith journeys that we were both excited to branch out and try something that seemed beyond our comfort zone.
Anna and I grew into our characters quickly, her as the reasonable leader and myself as the lovable but somewhat bumbling character who always seemed to find themselves in a pickle. We did several years of skits as these character tropes which involved me putting a bag over my head, wearing a ridiculous knight costume, and falling again and again. But Anna was always there to pick me back up.
“Working with Sydney made things so comfortable,” Anna explained. “Sometimes it felt like it was just us goofing off and having a great time. It makes things a lot easier when you’re comfortable with the people on stage with you. I enjoyed all the memories that we made running around that stage in airplanes and with swords.”
Participating in VBS as a volunteer for so many years made me more confident to speak about my faith in other scenarios. Being able to speak about the love of God through zany characters on stage allowed me to better express myself in everyday situations.
Now that Anna and I are getting ready to start our junior year of college in the fall, it is time for a new generation of actors (or non-actors willing to trust in God and give skits a try) to take the lead. And the children of St. Mark’s VBS are blessed with another amazing duo in Hope Goedeke and Ellie Poggioli.
Hope and Ellie both wanted to try something new this year since it is their second year as VBS helpers.
“We wanted to do it last year, but we didn’t have the time,” said Hope. “We wanted to do it because it sounded fun, and we wanted to try something new.”
Both girls had been through VBS as campers and were excited to begin taking on more responsibility as they started middle school. Skits were an amazing way to do that because they are both able to step out of their comfort zones and grow as individuals as well as being a leader to the younger kids.
Since the nature of the skits remains the same, Hope and Ellie were able to take over each character from Anna and I. Hope has become the level-headed leader while Ellie has fallen into (quite literally on some days) the hilariously loveable inventor.
Hope and Ellie were both excited to see the kids’ reactions to their performances. As an audience member, I must say that the kids are loving them! They seem to be captivated by Hope and Ellie’s dynamic energy onstage as they play off each other.
“I saw people doing [skits] and I thought it would be really cool to do it,” said Ellie. “I wanted to make the kids happy and make them laugh.”
One of the best things about participating in VBS either as a camper or as a helper is how much you grow in your faith in such a short period of time. VBS is an amazing way to engage with God and the rest of the church community. It is beautiful to see how many friendships are made and strengthened.
“VBS helped my grow in my faith life by introducing me to my faith community better,” said Anna. “I got to know some of the kids year after year following them through VBS, and also the other teachers and students that were volunteers. Before VBS even started, spending time with those people helping to set up and decorate, it makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger than just you. I still say hi to some of the people I worked with at VBS today at mass. Having an amazing community makes you love your faith even more. It’s kind of like the cherry on top.”
The growth in your faith does not end once the VBS wrap up is over each year. Especially at St. Mark, there are numerous wonderful opportunities to continue your faith journey throughout middle school and high school. As Hope and Ellie get older, they have many things they are excited for about continuing with youth ministry.
“I’m most excited for the field trips!” said Hope.
“Yeah, Steubenville sounds fun!” said Ellie.
Both Anna and I participated in multiple retreats a year throughout high school, and they are some of our best memories both together and with the rest of our youth ministry community. We also took our VBS leadership into peer ministry which blessed us with more amazing memories.
Anna had the opportunity to participate in World Youth Day 2016 which has sparked a new growth in her faith. There is also a new cathedral opening at Anna’s college this fall, and she is excited to attend mass there when school starts again.
I am involved with several campus ministry programs at my college, and just like at St. Mark I have found an amazing faith community there. Having a monastery on campus, I am surrounded by God’s love in a very present way. Everywhere I go I feel the joy of Jesus in my heart.
Participating in VBS is truly a special time in a child’s life. It is often the beginning to a long and fruitful journey through youth ministry and beyond. I will forever be grateful to VBS and the community of volunteers at St. Mark for planting the seeds of faith early, especially using ways that I could work with my best friend, that have allowed for what I feel is a magnificent journey getting to know Jesus.