APEX — Dressed as his alter ego, Hans, Nathan Stam channeled his best interpretation of Arnold Schwarzenegger as he looked at the slender prince: “You’re so small. We want to pump you up.”
The 450 or so children in the audience roared with laughter.
The scene – which played homage to a long-running sketch on “Saturday Night Live” – was part of the morning activities at last week’s vacation Bible school at Apex Baptist Church.
Lots of local churches host summer activities for youngsters. But every year, Apex Baptist goes all out for its weeklong camp.
In the past, stage sets have included a pagoda with hills and a bridge, a full-size ship and a bayou scene with a dock and crocodile.
This year’s theme was “Kingdom Rock,” and volunteers at Apex Baptist created a life-sized castle with faux stone made of chiseled Styrofoam. It even had a tower and working drawbridge.
Actors in Medieval costumes played the role of servant, bagpipe player, king, prince and princess.
And of course there was a dragon. The prince, played by parent Matt Wyatt of Cary, prepared to defeat the beast.
Each morning, students saw another part of the story, and they sang and danced.
Word has gotten out about the church’s creative vacation Bible school. About half of the children who attend the camp aren’t members at Apex Baptist, said Stam, who is the camp director.
The church doesn’t advertise the camp, except for a banner that hangs outside. It’s all been through word of mouth.
Ed Eng of Cary, who played King Edward during the camp production, said he’s heard the camp referred to as the “Disneyland of vacation Bible school.”
Throughout the day, children hear stories, make arts and crafts and do Bible-themed activities. This year, students got another chance to see the castle and its inhabitants at the end of each day’s closing ceremonies.
“No one asks us to get this elaborate,” said parent Beth Deichler of Pittsboro. “But when people hear what we are doing, they just get inspired by God and they want to show their artistic side.”
The sets are more than just a way for the adults of the church to showcase their artistic talents. It helps get the kids engaged in their faith as well.
“It starts in here (during the show), but it gets reinforced in the activities throughout the day,” Eng said.