This week, 174 Fort Hood kids, ages 4-11, are participating in crafts, recreation, worship and more during Destination Dig Vacation Bible School at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel.

Garrett Northway, Fort Hood director of religious education, has been a DRE in the Army for seven years and has directed three VBS’ at Fort Hood. He is incredibly happy to be able to host VBS in person once again since COVID-19 forced them to host the event virtually last year.

“Last year’s program was entirely online. In addition to producing high quality videos, we provided education materials and snacks for approximately 189 children,” he said. “Spiritual development is inherently relational, especially for children and youth. We are overjoyed this year’s program is in-person. Furthermore, the in-person program gives volunteers the opportunity to directly serve the spiritual, physical, emotional and social needs of the community. This year’s program is supported by almost 100 volunteers. Without these faithful volunteers, we simply could not conduct this program with any degree of success.”

The kids begin the day with a short worship service, which includes a fun skit and songs to sing and dance to, led by Chaplain (Maj.) Matthew Hebebrand, Family and Life Program chaplain, and his daughter Kaley.

This year’s VBS motto is “Seek Truth! Find Jesus!” and the week’s scripture is Jeremiah 29:13. It says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

“This VBS will teach kids, youth, and adults that when they seek God with all their heart, mind, and strength, they will discover his love and purpose for their lives,” Northway said.

One volunteer, Julia Hebebrand, wife of Chaplain (Maj.) Matthew Hebebrand, was responsible for the décor and teaching the “Artifacts Crafts” class. She was happy to spend about two months volunteering on the décor and working the week of VBS to give back to the community she feels has given so much to her family.

“The chapel community gives so much to us that we just enjoy giving back,” she said. “So if it can make an experience that the kids can encounter the Lord in a safe, fun way, that’s what’s most important to us.”

Chaplain (Col.) Brian Chepey, garrison chaplain, participated in the skits and prayed over the kids before they began their day. He was most proud of the Christian community on Fort Hood coming together to pull the big event off and also keeping it focused on God.  

“The direction is very centrally focused on the destination. Discovering, finding, looking for, but (in the end) the destination is Jesus; the destination is the Lord,” he said.

Northway acknowledged that VBS doesn’t only impact the kids, but it truly impacts everyone involved; and he hopes everyone grows spiritually from their experience.

“The incredible spiritual impact these programs have on bringing the faith community together, from children as young as 4 years old, to youth and adult volunteers, to chaplains and religious affairs specialists who support the program,” Northway remarked, “I want kids to discover, or be reminded that spiritual development is relational, it can be fun and interesting, and is a life-long process.”