Every Tuesday afternoon for 12 weeks in the spring and fall, excited volunteers from Caddo Mills United Methodist Church wait in the cafeteria at Lee Elementary for the dismissal bell so they can greet almost 70 kids rushing into their KiDs Beach Club.
For 90 minutes, students in third through fifth grades are immersed in the love of Jesus Christ and they never leave the school campus. That’s right: The entire program takes place inside the public school!
KiDs Beach Club is a nondenominational, high-energy Christian after-school program focused on “making Jesus cool at school.” It’s “an innovative ministry established to mobilize the church to go outside its walls in order to take the message of Christ into the heart of its community,” the KidsBeachClub.org website says.
Every week, kids begin their session in small groups, Surf Teams, while having snacks and talking about the character word of the week, such as determination, self-control and friendliness, etc. After sitting all day in school, they dance and sing some high-energy worship songs, then go right into Memory Link time, a fun activity introducing a scripture that supports the character word of the day. While the whole group is still together, a dramatic reading, role playing or reading of a Bible story makes the Bible come alive before the kids go back to their Surf Teams for discussion and prayer.
KiDs Beach Club ends with the kids’ favorite time: a fast-paced, different game every week that reviews everything they learned and a trip to the Treasure Chest. Throughout the day, the children are reminded that the real treasure in Beach Club is the word of Christ, but they are rewarded with tickets for bringing their Bibles, knowing their scriptures, sharing with a friend and demonstrating other good behaviors.
Pastor Debbie Lyons is impressed with the program and the all-inclusive curriculum. But “I’m most impressed by the fact that KBC becomes a connector linking the local school to the local church and linking the school families to the church.
“At our school, almost half of the 160 eligible kids participate in KiDs Beach Club, and only about half of them indicated they have a church home. It was a great feeling to invite the kids to our church for the Easter egg hunt, Easter worship and a Parents Night Out. And it’s an even better feeling knowing we have the opportunity to be their church home.”
The students attend KiDs Beach Club for free because the sponsoring churches pay $2,750 for 24 weeks, or about $115 a session. This investment includes volunteer background checks, training, curriculum, and, most important, new Bibles for every child. The only other expense to the church is for the snacks and Treasure Chest trinkets, which can be donated by church members.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,” and KiDs Beach Club provides a great way to do just that.