July 6, 2015

​Children Look for Same Things as Adults at Session

While a General Conference session is not traditionally thought of as a kid-friendly event, it really has a lot going on for the youngest members of the Adventist family.

A General Conference Session creates a great opportunity for a family trip, and many delegates, guests, and denominational employees travel from around the world and will spend a large amount of time away from home.

That makes events and exhibit booths geared to children a very good idea, especially if budgets or time constraints make visiting San Antonio tourist attractions impractical. But what are children at this session really looking for?

As at every General Conference Session, Sabbath school is one of the main events for children, with programs held in the convention center on both weekends. The Children’s Ministries department of the General Conference puts these “mega-classes” together and they present once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for kids to learn and worship in a setting most will never experience again.

“Sabbath School programs for children at GC Session are important for providing children with the opportunity to study the Bible and learn more about Jesus on God’s special day. Children get to worship God alongside children from around the world. They will learn that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a big world family and they belong to this big family of God,” says Linda Koh, General Conference Children’s Ministries Director.

Additionally, health and “Creation Case” DVDs will be available for kids to watch at the Children’s Ministries booth (B321) in the Exhibition Hall. Children can also pick up free health books, prayer journals, blinking pins, and stewardship bags, among other goodies, and will be intrigued by puppet shows on health and wellness. Schedules for these programs can be found through the GC Session app or stop by visiting the Children’s Ministries booth.

The General Conference stewardship department will feature Adventist GeoScience presenter, Rich Aguilera, showcasing his Creation Case program at their booth (B520) on Sabbath afternoon at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00. The Stewardship booth will also offer planners for children and a resource DVD for parents teaching the importance of good stewardship to the very young.

The Exhibit Hall is traditionally the hub of interesting booths and activities for children. Union College’s always popular rock climbing wall, Legos at the Columbia Union Conference booth, a traditional Asian gong (yes, it can be struck at the Southern Asia Pacific Division booth), and paper cowboy hats at KidView’s location, among many others. Most children (and their parents) will likely need several hours to see (and in some cases do) it all.

Children are also volunteering to help their parents who are working at booths. Paris Gulyas from Athens, Greece, can be found handing out pamphlets dressed in his national costume. Ten-year-old Kaili Kimura is busy helping her parents with puppet shows, while 11-year-old Edgar Walemba assists his grandmother at the East-Central Africa Division booth. In his first two days here, he says, he enjoyed “sleeping—and swimming in the hotel pool.”

Edgar was particularly excited to meet Brenda Walsh from 3ABN’s Children’ Time program. “I got to do something on TV with her,” he said.

Kids are experts at amusing themselves when adults are concerned with weighty matters—and other adults. There are dozens of options, including the time-tested one of people-watching. J.C. Egwakhe, a 9-year-old missionary kid living in Rwanda, has been enjoying “looking around with his parents, reading the Bible with Mom, and eating.” But what he’s really looking forward to, he says, is meeting his friends and especially his grandparents here.

Maybe the goals of kids and adults at GC Session aren’t really that different. We all enjoy a good reunion with friends, interesting things to see, and great food to eat. And this GC Session has all of those.