Bible Camp Lowers Enrollment Fees

Fresno, CA In a few weeks 4-year old Eli will join his friends for '5 Daze of Summer' religious entertainment and education.

"We have fun and do things we need to do," exclaimed Eli.

Starting from the last week of June through much of July Valley churches will open their doors to children like Eli for vacation bible school , or V.B.S.

"Bible learning, music, crafts, snacks, games. Five days of fun," said Paula Hannah with the Northwest church.

Hannah has noticed a disappointed trend in attendance. In past years nearly 1,200 kids have signed up for this summer experience. Now, only 600 show up. That's why Hannah has knocked $5 off the normal $40 fee. It's not much but Hannah believes it will boost participation.

Hannah: "We came down because we understand with families this may be a difficult financial time right now."

When it comes to spending discretionary funds families like Eli's are looking for quality and value.

"If it's a $60 program vs. a $35 program, I'm going with the $35 program," exclaimed Eli's mother Rebecca Benas.

Other valley churches are reducing their vacation bible school fees as well. However, the Fresno First Baptist church is waiving their fee all together.

"Because it's so important for them to be here," said Amy Barone with children ministries. Barone added only 75 children plan to attend this week long night time bible course.

"They'll be going around to the different rooms around campus for the different activities," said Barone.

Those who can pay $15 do so, otherwise everyone is asked to donate food, clothes and toys to help the neighborhood.

Barone: "We definitely do not want to turn anybody away for any reason especially if they can't pay. We want them here."

Barone said it would be a shame if the sour economy keeps laughter, learning and children like Eli out of the classroom.

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