As the weather is warming up, we are reminded that before long, spring will give way to summer. Without a doubt, kids everywhere are already dreaming about those lazy, hazy days of summer. But, as the school year eventually comes to a close and daily routines are put on hold, the “summer slump” can start setting in. This is especially true for Military kids, as their routines are often interrupted throughout their childhood years.
April is the Month of the Military Child—a time when we honor the children of our Service members for their sacrifices. It’s true that our Military members do give so much, but it is important to remember that these strong warriors have strong families that are backing them up too. As we recognize and celebrate our Military children this month, let’s talk about ways that your church can support these special kids this summer.
Things You Can Create
What better way to keep kids focused and engaged than to get those creative juices flowing? There are some great biblically-based activities that are relatively easy to create and they don’t have to cost a lot of money either. A great idea for the church body would be to create bulletin inserts or handouts, or even shareable pages of activities for congregation families to put on their fridges at home. These activities may include:
“How-to-Browse” List: Inevitably, kids are going to spend at least some time on the internet this summer. Why not provide parents with a God-centered list of things to check out—from music videos on GodTube to Bible trivia games online. Computers are essential in how we learn and communicate in the world today, and we, as church leaders and parents, can show our kids how to utilize these resources in a fun—yet responsible—way.
Coloring Contests: Not that every activity has to be a contest, but kids do love competing against each other, as long as it’s friendly and fun. Christian-themed coloring templates can be sent home (again, age-appropriate), and kids can do their best to “stay in the lines” and win a prize. If church budgets are a little tight to provide prizes, give suggestions to parents who can supply some no-cost prizes, like getting a free pass on vegetables for dinner or being able to skip a daily chore. Prizes don’t have to cost money to be valuable—especially to kids!
Things You Can Plan
When the school-day routine goes bye-bye during the summer, helping parents plan some fun-filled activities to fill up that space can offer some wholesome bonding. Here are a couple of ideas for events you can plan for the families in your congregation:
Camping Under the Stars: Family camping trips are a wonderful way for families to reconnect. Promote this within your congregation by providing parents with maps of constellations, sharing links to sounds of nature like owl calls, or emailing great campfire stories. Depending on the size of the church’s backyard, consider doing a congregational campout (with plenty of adult supervision) and find fun ways to do these activities in different groups. The sky’s the limit!
Community Service: Sometimes the best “feel good” activities involve helping others. Military kids are no strangers to the concept of service—their parents give all they can and then some. Plan church events within your community to help families practice random acts of kindness, or serve in a soup kitchen or an animal shelter. Even planning an evening where church body families can create “thank you” or “thinking of you” cards for loved ones is a great way for kids to show they care. This will definitely put a smile on the face of the receiver. Emphasize during these activities how Jesus came to Earth as a servant and discuss why we serve others (just like their parents serve our country).
Things WE Can Give YOU
Still falling short on some fun, summertime ideas for Military children? Free resources for Military families are always available on the Armed Services Ministry website. Many of these resources are made available not only to Service members and their families but to the churches that serve these families as well.
Through the Hero Squad program, faith-based activity boxes are distributed four times a year with Military-specific devotionals, gifts, journals, family activities, and more. These gifts and activities keep our Military children spiritually healthy and give them a little balance over the summer when their school (and Bible-based) learning is put on pause.
You can encourage the families within your church body to sign up on the Hero Squad page of the website to get plugged into resources!
Final Thoughts for Supporting Our Military Kids
As we celebrate the Month of the Military Child, we should be encouraged to start planning ahead now as the body of Christ to get these ideas and resources ready for the warmer months ahead.
And although the month of April is nearing an end it is important to remember our Military kids all throughout the year. Remember that when their parents serve, they are serving too through their sacrifices and often the great lengths of time spent away from their parents.
Jesus loves all of us as children of God, especially the little ones:
“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14(b) (ESV)