By: Mike DeWitt
Wyoming Public Schools closed the doors last weekend and ushered in the end of the school year. This Monday, churches and volunteers from around the area will reopen the doors to Wyoming Jr. High School and welcome in over 200 kids to participate in a worldwide, faith-based movement called KidsGames.
The idea started over a decade ago in the Middle East and Spain to give children an experience in a sporting event over the summer. Since then, KidsGames has expanded and evolved all over the world, including right here in West Michigan.
“One of the founding fathers of KidsGames International, Michael Wozniak, is local here in West Michigan,” said Jack Ponstine, the founder of KidsGames in Wyoming. “There was already an event in Byron Center, so he reached out to me to get one started in Wyoming. That was nine years ago.”
KidsGames is a free event for children entering 1st-6th grade. It is focused on making the week as fun as possible while building strong character and building a relationship in Christ. Each night starts with the whole group (kids and volunteers) meeting in the gymnasium to talk about the mission for the year. Past years have worked with Feeding America and sending sporting equipment to low-income areas. This year, the goal is to raise money for water for Flint.
After the opening meeting, kids are broken into three different groups to learn about nutrition, stories from the Bible, and play experimental games with life lessons incorporated throughout. Kids are then placed into small groups for Bible Discovery Time with a small group leader.
Following small group, it’s time to get active again as kids can choose between many different activities or “Tracks.” The Tracks are led by volunteers and include different games, sports, and crafts. Tracks for this year include basketball, beauty 101, crafts/scrapbooking, drama, jewelry making, karate, legos, painting 101, painting 202, soccer, and wacky science.
“We have more volunteers and Tracks than ever before,” said Ponstine. “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers”
Last year, 64 volunteers from 13 different churches helped out at the week-long event. All 64 were needed to help make the experience as positive as possible for the 181 students, from 57 different schools, that attended.
Things don’t look like they’re about to slow down in 2016 either.
“We already have over 100 that have pre-registered. That doesn’t include the large number who will register on Monday when we start,” said KidsGame coordinator Shane Buist.
When the week is over, Jack Ponstine hopes each family leaves having checked all four boxes:
1. They had a great week with the other children and the leaders.
2. That parents enjoyed dropping their kids off knowing the fun they were about to have and the lessons learned.
3. A positive relationship was built with the small group leader.
4. A strong relationship with Jesus Christ was built upon.
In the end, it all comes back to spreading the word.
“My goal is to get churches to come together to spread ministry,” said Ponstine.
Details about the event are below:
Who: 1st-6th graders and volunteers from churches throughout Wyoming
What: KidsGames: West Michigan
When: Monday, June 13 – Friday, June 17 from 6:00-8:30pm (Registration opens at 5:30 Monday night)
Where: Wyoming Jr. High School (2125 Wrenwood SW, Wyoming, MI 49509)
Why: Building character, making new friends, learning about the Bible and having FUN