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Joseph Scarbrough launched what he called "The Scarblog" as a way of cataloging his work over the years, as well as going into greater detail of things on his mind (known as "Unfinished Thoughts").

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Week as a Construction Worker

Darrel the Barrel

That's right, I once spent a week one summer as a construction worker, however, I wasn't putting up some kind of downtown highrise for a big real-estate conglomorate; I was being a construction barrel for a higher power.

When I was a little kid, I always looked forward to Vacation Bible School at church, however, as I got older, I couldn't participate so much anymore in the events, and I ended up having to help run booths, or make sure each group of kids were at the right location they should be, etc. Then there was one summer where I got a chance to make myself a little more useful at helping put together VBS: one of my lesser known puppeteering roles.

The summer of 2005, our church's VBS theme was God's Construction Zone, and the theme's curriculum included a central character, who was a talking (and somewhat wisecracking) construction barrel named Darrel the Barrel; the curriculum had options for a costume character, a hand puppet, or a bunch of little finger puppets to give to the kids. Knowing that I'm a puppeteer, our youth directors decided they wanted to use the puppet for VBS, so this gave me a chance to do something puppetry related outside of my own work, and needless to say, this was going to be a very interesting, and ultimately rewarding week for myself as a puppeteer.

The routine was that at the end of the day, all of the children attending would gather into a room in our recreation center, to see a skit with Kelly Fly (one of our youth directors), and the aforementioned construction barrel, Darrel, and each night, they would discuss, or tackle a different subject pertaining to that day's message (such as disobedience, forgiveness, etc). That's the way it went for the first two nights, the next two nights, I went solo before the kids, then on the final night, we both said goodbye to the kids after they watched a slideshow retrospective of their week of VBS. It was amazing how much those little kids absolutely loved Darrel... as a matter of fact, one night, a small group of rugrats tore down our puppet set wanting to see him again: our puppet set was a very simple set up of PVC pipe covered in thin black fabric to hide myself (and a large paper construction zone sign on the front to hide my silohuette through the fabic), so the kids managed to tear it down pretty easily, but were in for a surprise to find, instead of Darrel the Barrel, a round, hairy man sitting in a metal folding chair. That didn't stop impressing the kids, however, as they all started praising me for my performance, and telling me how much they loved Darrel, the voice I used for him, and how good I was at playing him; as a puppeteer, there's nothing more rewarding than kids really enjoy what you're doing, and connect with the characters as if they're real (for me personally, it was even more rewarding when I once had a grown man interact with Steve, as if I was invisible and Steve was real, lol).

Getting back the slideshow, althought I couldn't see too well, I could see through the projection screen a little bit from where I was sitting (the screen was placed in front of the puppet set, since the kids would already be facing that direction), at one point, I was getting the puppet ready, and all of the sudden, the kids started squealing and cheering, and when I looked up, there was home video footage of Darrel on the screen, and the kids were cheering at seeing him again.

It certainly turned out to be a week to remember, and I'm certainly glad that the kids were able to get the lessons they were being taught from a lovable little puppet. Here are the scripts I was given to go through with the kids each night (except for Friday, which Kelly and I pretty much just did a runthrough for before we performed before the kids).

Monday Night's Skit Script
Tuesday's Script
Wednesday's Script
Thursday's Script


  1. Joseph, My church in Jackson, Mississippi will take Darrel the Barrel to Lima, Peru, this summer (June 2011). We have one Darrel puppet but we need two puppets in order to run two VBS programs at the same time. We would love to buy or borrow a Darrell the Barrel puppet. After reading your blog, I'm wondering if you might know the location of a Darrell puppet?

    Susan in Jackson, MS

  2. Susan,

    I'm sorry, but I am unsure where you can obtain a Darrel the Barrel puppet; our youth directors only supplied me with one, they rented it, and the rest of the cirriculum, then when the week was over, it was all returned.

    But I want to wish you and your church all the best in Peru this summer.

    ~ Joseph

  3. Joseph,
    I am DESPERATELY seeking any and all curriculum, props, posters and supplies that have to do with the "Construction Zone" VBS!!!
    Do you have any way to find out who your church borrowed it from so maybe I could contact them?
    I would GREATLY appreciate it! Any info you have would be a big help... Thanks and have a blessed day!
    Bridgette (Georgia)

  4. Bridgette,

    Again, this was years ago, and I am unsure exactly from whom the curriculum was ordered from: it was just simply supplied to me.

    I can tell you this though, the only actual prop the curriculum came with was the puppet, all of the props and scenics and such, we did ourselves; as a matter of fact, I was lasoed into creating a lot of signs and posters for the event myself.

    I wish I could be of more help, but that's all I can tell you.

    ~ Joseph