VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
History of Vacation Bible School
The origins of Vacation Bible School can be traced back to Hopedale, IL in 1894. Sunday School teacher D. T. Miles, who also was a public school teacher, felt she was limited by time constraints in teaching the Bible to children. So, she started a daily Bible school to teach children during the summer. The first Bible school enrolled forty students and lasted four weeks. A local school was used for classes, while an adjoining park was used for recess.
Vacation Bible school as we know it today got its start more than 20 years later on New York City's East Side. Mrs. Walker Avlette Hawes of the Epiphany Baptist Church noted a rapid increase in the number of immigrant children in the slums. In July 1898, she rented the only place available—a saloon—to run a Bible school for six weeks during the summer. Hawes structured her program around worship music, Bible stories and Scripture memorization, games, crafts, drawing, cooking, etc. The school caught on: Hawes was presiding over seven separate schools by the time she retired from her work in 1901.
Dr. Robert Boville, who worked for the Baptist Mission Society, picked up where Hawes left off, and the movement grew to include 17 schools by 1903. Four years later, schools opened in Philadelphia and Chicago, and in 1911, Boville established the Daily Vacation Bible School Association as a national organization. In 1923, he left to promote VBS internationally and founded the World Association of Vacation Bible Schools.
Standard Publishing created a full-scale VBS program in 1923, and divided it by grade. In 1998, the publisher reported that more than 5 million children attended VBS programs every year.
More people accept Christ during the VBS summer season than they do all year long.