Every year at First Christian Church, the children's department puts on an event called July Jam. It's for children from 1-6 grade and the younger ones have a separate event at the same time, but they aren't mixed in with the older kids. Last year was my first year helping out and I had so much fun that I volunteered again this year. This year the them was Carnival. They had t-shirts for the kids and adult volunteers with the Carnival theme on them and had the entire sanctuary decorated to look like a carnival. July Jam runs from Tues-Thurs nights from 6-8:30 and then Friday night is the big event for the whole family. Christie, the head of the children's department is so incredibly gifted. I cannot believe the amount of detail that goes into putting on an event like this. Each evening starts out with prayer for all of the volunteers and there are snacks and bottled water since we don't really have time to eat dinner after work before we have to be at the church. Then, the kids register at the ticket booth and get their bracelet (color coded for each grade) and a name badge. Then as they enter the sanctuary there is an obstacle course and this year they had a huge screened in tent filled with balloons and fans blowing the balloons around. Inside the sanctuary were 3 huge hay rings. The 1st and 2nd grade girls and boys were in one ring, separated by each grade and gender. The 2nd ring had the 3rd and 4th graders and then the last ring had the 5th and 6th graders. I was helping out with the 4th grade girls. The evening starts out with crazy worship, complete with lots of yelling and jumping up and down. Then we had a couple of group games (the 1-3 graders and 4-6 graders are on separate "teams" and competing for points throughout the event). After the games the lesson is taught. The first night Debi the "bearded lady" taught and Mr. Bramble taught on the 2nd night and Ms. Christie taught on the last night. After the lesson the kids pick up their snacks (carnival food in a cute little carnival container) and head out for team time where each group and their leader go through a little book and go over the memory verse and discuss questions. Then half the kids go to play games and the other half go to make a craft and then about 30 minutes later they all switch and then go back to the sanctuary for closing prayer and to wait for their parents. Then on Friday night there was a big carnival with hot dogs, cotton candy, a train, lots of games and more crafts, face painting, a guy making balloon animals, a big game of dodge ball, and lots more. Jay and I worked in the ticket booth on Friday night and it's always fun for me on the last night because we get to serve together. Although I am completely exhausted, it is very much worth it. I always get more out than I give and I had so much fun bonding with the girls and seeing the wisdom in them in the wonderful questions they asked during team time. I am already looking forward to July Jam '09!