MARICOPA — For five consecutive evenings every summer, more than 130 children gather at First Baptist Church of Maricopa for a week-long vacation Bible camp. They sing songs, play games, enjoy snacks and learn about God and Jesus, with information presented with a fun theme.

"As a church, we look forward to vacation Bible camp every year," said Penny Miller, church secretary and director of the vacation Bible school program.

The church will host its vacation Bible camp again on Sunday through Friday in the first week of June. But this year, planning for the event is different.

Most churches order theme-based vacation Bible camp supplies through one of several suppliers that ship from overseas. And this year, shipments of the supplies have been delayed due to supply chain disruptions.

First Baptist Church of Maricopa usually has its vacation Bible camp supplies in early spring. In March, however, Miller was advised that the shipment of supplies might not arrive before its annual vacation Bible school was set to begin.

"The last we heard, the shipment was delayed on a ship and probably wouldn't be here before vacation Bible camp starts," she said. "Usually, we're doing our planning now."

But she said the church was prepared to host the favorite summertime activity with or without the shipment.

"We will be doing our own thing if the shipment doesn't come in," Miller said. "We do have a backup plan."

With its camp-like theme, vacation Bible camp is an anticipated event each year for the church as well as area children and volunteers, Miller said.

Last year, 135 children took part in the weeklong event. In pre-pandemic years, attendance was anywhere from 160 to nearly 200 children per night.

While many vacation Bible camp programs are only for children, First Baptist Church of Maricopa encourages adults and teens to take part as well.

"It's really for everyone of all ages," Miller said. "We allow adults to stay and learn or volunteer."

In its vacation Bible camp, the church celebrates love from and for Jesus Christ, meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. at the church, 18700 N. John Wayne Parkway. More information is available by calling 520-568-2272.

Calvary Chapel of Maricopa last year also joined the list of of churches offering a camp-like Bible learning event for area children.

A spokeswoman for Calvary Chapel said the church plans to host another vacation Bible camp in 2022, but it will be held in the fall, most likely October, rather than in the summer. Planning was still underway at press time. For more information, call 520-428-0436.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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