March 10, 2011

March 10, 2011

Remember This, Volume 20: Awana

Many thanks to friend-of-blog Mel for reminiscently tweeting about Sparkies yesterday and inspiring this blog entry.

One summer, long long ago (second grade), I was in Awana for a summer at the convincing of my friend Sara Mont. Now, those of you who grew up in non-fundamentalist or non-religious homes probably have no idea what Awana is, so let’s let Wikipedia fill you in:

Awana (derived from the first letters of Approved workmen are not ashamed as taken from 2 Timothy 2:15) is an international evangelical nonprofit organization founded in 1950, headquartered in Streamwood, Illinois. The mission of Awana is to help "churches and parents worldwide raise children and youth to know, love and serve Christ." Awana is a non-denominational program and licenses its curricula to any church willing to pay for and use the Awana materials consistent with its principles. Awana offers multiple curricula levels. In the U.S. and Canada, Awana is split into six age groups: Puggles, Cubbies, Sparks, Truth & Training (T&T), Trek and Journey.

I confess that I don’t remember a whole lot about how Awana worked. What DO I remember?

You got a book, with a Bible verse (verses?) on each page. Once you could successfully recite the verse(s) from memory, an Adult signed the page. Every few pages, you would get a small plastic gem to place in a small plastic crown, like so:

Awana now appears to use patches, a vest, and some sort of flight theme instead of tiny plastic choking hazards. But, anyway, it was very achievement-through-intelligence, and even an adolescent Heather was ALL OVER IT.

Because, friends, I got through all three books in one summer. That is a LOT of Bible verses. I sneered as other kids would do a page or two a week. I would then wow the leaders by doing like 30 pages. Was I a horrible child? YES. Horribly SMART. Snap.

I believe there was also some sort of theme verse and/or song that we would all say in unison. There was probably a story, a game, and/or a snack. I suspect this only because I have run literally hundreds of programs for church kids and they have all featured a story, a game, and a snack. But anyway. I seem to remember getting candy thrown at us for some reason. Which I hated, because even before I started wearing corrective lenses, I hated having things thrown at my freaking face.

Oh for the days when rote memorization won you tiny plastic prizes and you called it a day. Good old Sparkies. (To my fellow Awana alumni: But not Cubbies. Cubbies is for babies.)

1 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke:

You got a book, with a Bible verse (verses?) on each page. Once you could successfully recite the verse(s) from memory, an Adult signed the page.

This is completely identical to the qualification process used in the US Navy (Minus the biblical aspect, naturally). This probably explains why I am so bad at qualifying, since I was so bad at my church's Awana analog growing up.