The Catholic Church, VBS, and Crocodile Dock


My Church had the “Crocodile Dock” theme this year, and my kids helped out. In a nearby town, I noticed that a Baptist Church was using the same “Crocodile Dock” theme.

So I asked them about their experience with it. They said it was entertaining but not particularly Catholic.

Are all these VBS thingies supposed to be generic?

Are there any designed especially for Catholics?


No, not all VBS programs are “generic.” There are Catholic programs. Our diocesan office of catechesis recommended/approved these programs for use within our diocese this year:

  1. Son World – Liguori Publications
  2. Son Rock Kids Camp – Liguori Publication
  3. Rain Forest Adventure – Our Sunday Visitor
  4. Growing with the Saints:
  5. St. Patrick and the Holy
  6. The Assorted Saints and the Virtues of Faith,
    Hope, and Love by Susan Lawson.

I’m sure there are others that are specifically Catholic or produced by Catholic publishers like OSV, Liguori, etc.

I looked up Crocodile Dock. It is published by Harcourt Religious Publishers. There is a specifically Catholic version that has an Imprimatur. So it should be sound doctrinally. Let’s hope your parish was diligent in purchasing the Catholic program.

Many of the mainstream education/textbook publishers like Sadlier and Harcourt have a religion division that publish both Catholic and non-Catholic versions of religous textbooks, programs, etc.


Our church used Crocodile Dock, too. It’s from NEST Entertainment:

The last two years the theme we used was exactly the same as the one the Methodist church used. NEST claims they are the largest supplier of VBS stuff; it is likely generic (whitewashed) Christian material. :yawn:


Son Rock, Son World and Rainforest Adventure are also Protestant VBS programs. I hope the diocese was authorizing the Catholic variant. :rolleyes:

We used one a few years ago. It was the same one being offered at many of the Protestant Church’s the year before. We got a “deal” by buying the previous year’s material. The Catholic version included a few references to the CCC in small print in the leaders guide and a Catholic style prayer to start and end each session.

I went to a catechetical conference a few years ago. Unless something has radically changed, there are only one or two VBS programs that are designed to be Catholic rather than adapted from Protestant VBS programs.

Most of the Protestant VBS programs are non-offensive to Catholics; they just don’t offer much specific to our faith. The biggest factor is going to be the quality and committment of your VBS staff and volunteers.


Trust me. Our diocese would NEVER recommend something that was not solidly Catholic.


Hmmm, I think 1ke and I are talking about different programs, and maybe Corki and I are talking about the same one. If you google Crocodile Dock a whole bunch of VBS programs come up from different companies. Interesting–it is as if there’s some originator of the theme and then all these different publishing companies tailor them to their needs. Its all very confusing. Now I wonder where our parish ordered their stuff from…:confused:


Most VBS programs have different flavors - our Church also did the Crocodile Dock (Catholic Version)… but all the other local Protestant Churches did Crocodile Dock too.

If you’re curious what’s being taught, why not try to volunteer? :shrug:
At this age it’s pretty benign theology, though - things that are fundamental to Christianity rather than things that display the differences.
Most of the songs are along the lines of “God is Powerful”, “This little light of mine”, “My God lifts me up when I’m down” - all based off Scriptural passages… but still, nothing that shows any major concerns, IMO.



I know that. :slight_smile: The problem comes when a diocese puts a list out like you posted and some DRE/CRE who is eager to economize goes looking for material on the web instead of going to the Catholic publisher directly. They might get the Protestant material instead of the Catholic adaptation.

These programs are sold through a variety of channels. The web sites that you find in a google seach are not usually for the company that developed the material but the retail sources. It’s like buying a book from Amazon or Ignatius Press. The book isn’t related to either one. I was also disappointed to find that the book companies are not always 100% truthful. At the conference I mentioned above, I got a sample of material for a program that, the rep assured me, was designed entirely for Catholics. It wasn’t; it was a popular Protestant VBS that was edited to include some Catholic content.

My problem with the Catholic adaptations was just that it was quite obvious that it was an “add on”. For example, in a small bubble in the leaders material, it might say to skip a portion on Scripture being the only guide. The portion was still in the material but there was a “Catholic” footnote directing the leader to skip it. The Catholic activities were not even included in the time line. If your volunteers were not thoroughly prepared or if the parish could not invest in a leaders guide for each volunteer, you would never know.

But again, even the Protestant versions are not likely to contain anything offensive to Catholics. The goal of VBS in Protestant churches is to be an outreach/evangelization tool while for Catholics, I think we see VBS as more of an summer extension of CCE/CCD.

BTW, Growing With the Saints is soldly Catholic by design, not adapted. I believe one of the developers posts here at CAF - or at least did last year at VBS time. K4J Summer Blast is another program that is designed to be Catholic from the ground up. It’s too late for this summer but might be useful to know when planning for next year.


If your parish got its VBS material directly from NEST and not from a Catholic publisher such as Harcout for Crocodile Dock, they were not getting one approved by the diocese. This is the kind of shortcut I was talking about above. In my opinon, I think the diocisan offices need to do a better job of emphaising that there are different “flavors” of each program and only the “Catholic” ones are approved. I think every diocese in the US maintains a list of approved catechetical material and I am pretty sure that the Protestant version of VBS isn’t approved any more that the KJB is approved for Bible Study. :slight_smile:


I understand that the same product can be sold by different retailers :slight_smile: but usually the book you buy at Amazon is the **same **book you buy at Ignatius Press. My point is that several of these Crocodile Dock programs are quite different–like one with an Imprimateur. That’s what is so odd, that these seemingly quite disparate programs all go under this Crocodile Dock name–much moreso than any other product I know.


I am the Asst DRE at our parish. We have always used the Catholic Versions of the Group VBS programs. We used the Catholic Crocodile Dock programming. Catholic Saints and Catholic Charities were discussed. There was no ‘anti’ Catholic message.


I’m sitting here uploading VBS pictures while we clean up afte Crocodile Dock 2009. We use Harcort’s Totally Catholic version, even though it is Catholic - one does have to edit the Bible Stores (this year called Bible Bayou).

On day 4, the Bible Bayou drama could easily be misinterpreted to be a “pretend” communion, we had to point out over and over that this was a pretend passover meal NOT communion.

On day 5 the “Catholic ID” point must have been written by someone who has never met a Catholic. It actually said that our Catholic use of water at baptism is inadequate because we sprinkle :eek: As we all know, Catholic teaching is clear, baptism is either by immersion or pouring, never a sprinkle.

The Catholic songs on the CD are less-than-wonderful. While the other songs are well prodiced and slick with hand motions and coreography, the extra Catholic songs sound as if they were recorded by someone’s brother in the living room.

Maybe if more Catholic Parishes start doing VBS, the publisher will spend more on developing the Catholic versions.

I am gator tired today…


We did Crocodile Dock at our parish, too. But I was wondering, are there any VBS programs based on the myseteries of the Rosary? Would’t that be a great way to teach the rosary & the bible at the same time?

You couldn’t get any more Catholic than that.


I just spent 2 weeks volunteering for Crocodile Dock VBS, one week at a Catholic church and one at a protestant church. The Catholic church had a “totally Catholic” version with the nihil obstat and imprimatuer, but it was pretty much identical to the protestant version. The only thing that seemed a little iffy to me was a song with the lyrics “The Church is the people gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ.” Seemed more like the protestant idea of the “Church.” At the protestant church they told the kids that when Jesus said “this is my body” that it wasn’t really his body, but I didn’t hear that lesson at the Catholic church so I’ll have to look at the script and see.

The “totally Catholic” version had nothing particularly Catholic, no “Hail Mary’s” or anything about the Saints.

It’s been my experience that Protestant materials tailored to be used in Catholic youth programs don’t contain anything in outright opposition to Catholic teaching, but rather undermine the authority of the Church by raising all Christian churches to to the same level. It’s more of a “who cares about which church is more right than the others as long as we all love Jesus” mindset.


I started a thread about a week ago about a free at home VBS through Holy Heroes. I don’t know how easy it would be to adapt to an entire parish, but we did do three days of it so far and it did base the days on mysteries of the rosary. I thought it was great. It was a lot of time for us, so we did the videos (5-7 minutes per day), the discussion questions (short and sweet), the craft, and sometimes the game. Check it out!


Perhaps you did not go to the station where the holy cards were given out? The Totally Catholic Crocodile Dock (and all the other Catholic Group/Harcourt VBSs) have a daily lesson about a Saint and the kids recieve a “People Of Faith” holy card every day.

There is also a Catholic Prayers quad fold booklet that the children were supposed to use, it is on the downloads - maybe you missed it when those were given out?


My kids didn’t get any holy cards, I was an assistant station leader so I missed a lot since I wasn’t floating around. I’ll take a look at their books and see if I missed something.


Thanks folks! You’ve answered lots of questions.


Perhaps your director decided not to buy them? If that is the case, help raise $$ next year to buy the holy cards (I’d buy those and do an alternate low cost craft instead of buying the program crafts if I had to cut corners).

BTW, why did you volunteer at a Protestant VBS? That would just be strange, watching them try to get kids “saved”.


My parish has been making their own VBS program the past few years and we’ve done the joyful mysteries, luminous mysteries, and sorrowful mysteries. I don’t think we’ve done the glorious ones yet, or maybe they were done in the past and I just wasn’t around. The DRE was considering packaging our materials and selling them because there aren’t many Catholic VBS prepackaged programs out there. That’s the big reason why we started doing our own, that and $$$.

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