Vacation Bible School (a.k.a. VBS) is the term for a special type of religious education which caters toward children, usually in the summer. The programs are usually implemented by evangelical Protestant denominations.


In 1894 in Hopedale, Illinois, the first Vacation Bible School was instituted. D.T. Miles, a pastor's wife and resident of Hopedale, had been a public school teacher before marrying. She continued to teach Sunday School. Miles felt she was limited in time constraints in the weekly Sunday School hour. She started a daily Bible school to teach children during the summer months. The first Bible school enrolled 40 students and lasted four weeks. A local school was used for classes, while a nearby park was used for outdoor activities.

In 1898 Eliza Hawes, director of the children's department at Epiphany Baptist Church in New York City, started an "Everyday Bible School" for underprivledged children. Classes were held at a rented bar in New York's East Side. Hawes continued her efforts educating children for seven years.

After becoming aware of Hawes' summer program, Dr. Robert Boville of the Baptist Mission Society recommended it to other Baptist churches. Through Boville's guidance a handful of summer schools were established. These school programs were taught by students at the Union Theological Seminary. During one summer, one thousand students were enrolled in 5 schools. In 1922 the World Association of Daily Vacation Bible School was founded by Boville.

Vacation Bible School Today

Today many churches run their own Vacation Bible School programs, without being under the umbrella of a national organization. Many churches conduct a weeklong program consisting of religious education, skits, puppet shows, arts and crafts, and religious songs which cater toward preschool and elementary aged children.

At times parents of preschool and elementary aged kids tend to use VBS's as a cheap babysitting service during the summer.

Typical VBS Songs


  • Barcellos, Robert J., "VBS reinforces seasonal lessons," ''Standard Times'', July 10, 1999.
  • Moll, Kaye, " Standard Publishing's VBS Celebrates 80th Birthday," ''Lookout Magazine'', March 30, 2003
  • Wright, Betsy, "Fond Memories of Vacation Bible School Can Last a Lifetime," ''The Virginian Pilot'', August 6, 1994.