Saint Mary's religious education center enlisted the help of Bill Gow, Kutztown, to create a rainforest adventure so its next generation could understand better, the value of caring for God's creation.Aug. 4 to 8, children ages 4 through 10 romped through a tropical jungle, played games with frogs, learned science experiments and delighted in delectables from Columbia.
Saint Mary's Rainforest Adventure Vacation Bible School drew 58 children and the help of 21 teenage volunteers as well as a number of parents.
The tropical forest, complete with sound effects and hidden creatures, was created by a man of great vision and passion for when it comes to the children.
Saint Mary's had heard of his work creating themed carnivals for the Kutztown Elementary and middle schools and enlisted his help.
"I'm a champion of stupid fun. It's my way of fighting videogames. Children grow up so fast, it's nice to see them play with something silly," Gow said.
Gow's two children, Bill, 8, and Sarah, 12, had fun helping to create the rainforest.
"I'm impressed with what you can do with cardboard tubes, wire, and 600 feet of paper table cloth," said Gow.
Tim Sitarik from Can Corporation of America in Blandon contributed 200 tubes.
Ann Pirnot, co-ordinator of St. Mary's religious education, with her husband, Tom, led the children through songs laced with crickets and enhanced with motions of sign language. The songs preluded a skit performed by a bat, Fran Procaecio, an iguana, Celina Daddario, and an oppossum, Sarah Gow.
"It's been a fun way to spend summer with good friends and to entertain kids," Procaecio said.
The three teenagers had practised for the past two months, three times a week. Procaecio's sister, Andrea, taped their performances, "I like filming and I get to play with my mom's new toy," said Andrea.
Mixed in with the skit was a story about a toucan spreading seed around benefiting others from its action. Relating this story were Kutztown seventh-grader Katie Eickenbrod and home schooled eighth-grader Sam Skoronski.
"I think it's a lot of fun and I fit right in because I wear this safari hat all the time. I added this snake for effect," said Thomas Krutsick, 11, of PAVCS.
Each day there was a theme about sharing, giving, growing, loving, and giving praise. Their mission project focused on the children's contributions to the Huch Uy Runa (Incan for small important person) Project. This non-governmental organization in Cuzco, Peru provides food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical and dental services to children ages 5 to 17 left on the streets of Cuzco, Peru.
Pirnot's son, Anthony, stationed in Leticia as a junior diplomatic officer for the United States, was able to put together a care package of goodies to help with the rain-forest adventure. Leticia is in the Southeast corner of columbia near the Amazon Basin. Treats such as maracuya, an orange marmalade with a taste like apricots, Guayaba, a fruit candy very sweet and tangy, Panuchas, stuffed coconut in a carmel shell, and titote', coconut rice.
The children eagerly looked forward to their treats after a rigorous workout with Annie Sedlack, of Mertztown.
"My job is to wear them out with a lot of physical fun. Their body is a temple to take care of. We do warmups and stretch praise to God and much silliness," said Sedlack. "We play games related to our rainforest theme. Like the ever popular game of Duck, Duck, Goose becomes Snake, Snake, Frog, or Sharks and Minnows becomes Bats and Mosquitoes."
The science experiments were led by Jennifer Tabor, of Kutztown. The projects included identifying scents such as cloves from seedpods found in the rainforest.
"The projects were meant for the wonder of God's creation," said Tabor.