History of Bible Bowl

The Camp Hill Junior Bible Bowl began in 1979. Very little is known about the early years of the event because records were not kept. However, it is believed that the event was organized and coordinated by William (Bill) Garret who was then a member of the Camp Hill congregation. Originally, the competition was open to all children in the eighth grade or younger.

For the first eighteen years of the competition, questions were taken from four books of the Bible on a rotating basis. It is believed that a number of individuals were involved in creating several hundred multiple choice and True/False questions from the books of Acts, Luke, Proverbs, and Genesis. The complete list of questions was provided to participants in the form of study-questions. A subset of these questions was then used as the basis for the competition itself.

Bill Garret oversaw the Junior Bible from 1979 to 1985. The competitions during those years are believed to have been as follows:

1979     Acts of the Apostles      
1980   Gospel of Luke    
1981   Proverbs    
1982   Genesis   18 teams competing
1983   Acts of the Apostles   17 or 18 teams competing
1984   Gospel of Luke   17 or 18 teams competing
1985   Proverbs   13 teams competing

In 1986 Bill Garrett was no longer at Camp Hill and the responsibility for organizing the Junior Bible Bowl was assumed by David (Dave) Garrett. Dave Garret oversaw the competition from 1986 to 1991. Records indicate that the competitions during those years were as follows:

1986     Genesis     20 teams competing      
1987   Acts of the Apostles   25 teams competing
1988   Gospel of Luke   24 teams competing
1989   Proverbs   25 teams competing
1990   Genesis   22 teams competing
1991   Acts of the Apostles   24 teams competing

When Dave Garrett moved from the Camp Hill area in 1991, the responsibility for organizing the Junior Bible Bowl was assumed by Charlie Dove. For the 1992 competition, two concerns led to a major change. First, the number of congregations sending teams to the event and the number of teams from each congregation were increasing. There was concern about the ability of the Camp Hill church to continue to host the event as it steadily grew in size each year. Second, with the event open to all children under eighth grade, some children were participating as early as kindergarten resulting in as many as eight or nine years of participation. It was observed at Camp Hill and other churches that after a number of years many children's interest and enthusiasm for the Bible Bowl would diminish or even disappear altogether.

In an effort to solve both of these concerns, the competition for 1992 was limited to children in school grades five through eight. This has the positive effect of reducing the size of the event in the short term and allowed for some increase in the difficulty of the questions used. It also appeared to reduce the "burn-out" effect noticed in children after many years of participation and gave the younger children something to look forward to, that is, being old enough to compete.

During this same time period, a number of disputes occurred at the competitions concerning the wording of competition questions. Children were studying various translations of the Bible to prepare for competitions and the questions used in competition also appeared to have been originally created from several translations. The variations in word choices between various English translations of the Bible became points of confusion and dispute at the competition and it became evident that a single standard was needed. This question was given to the elders of the congregation and the direction which they chose was to use the New American Standard translation as the basis for phrasing questions. When it was found that there were some subtle variations in the New American Standard translation depending on the year of the copyright, the 1988 copyrighted edition became the standard for phrasing competition questions. This does not restrict participants from studying from other translations. Participants are merely advised to understand the text and names as they are worded in the 1988 edition of the New American Standard translation of the Bible.

Another notable event occurred in 1994. During the winter of 1993-1994, the auditorium roof of the Camp Hill church suffered structural damage and was in danger of collapse from the heavy snows that winter. As a result of the Camp Hill building being unsafe, the 1994 Junior Bible Bowl was conducted at the Carlisle church of Christ building on Walnut Bottom Road in Carlisle.

After returning to the Camp Hill building in 1995, a new concern was identified with the use of video cameras by spectators at the competition. The competition, since its beginning, had consisted of the same questions from the same four books with only minor revisions for clarity and to eliminate disputed questions. With the reuse of competition questions every four years, it became evident that the potential for having compromised the answers to the questions was extremely high.

A second concern also developed with the use of the study questions sent to participants. Many teams appeared to rely heavily on memorization of the study questions rather than study of the Bible text. This over-dependence on the study questions that were being provided violated the spirit and the intent of the competition which was study of the Bible text.

In an effort to resolve these concerns, the 1996 competition was the last year that study questions were provided. It was also the first year that competition questions were written directly from Bible texts without any reference or connection to previous competition questions or study questions. Since unique questions were now being created for each competition, this also afforded the opportunity to break the cycle of using the same four books over and over. As a result, the competition can now be based on any book or books with sufficient volume to generate the number of questions required for the competition. This number would be eight rounds of twenty questions with two or three alternate questions per round, or approximately one hundred eighty-four questions.

Although the current competition format allows for the use of any portion of the Bible, certain books are particularly valuable studies for children in the junior high school age group. Consequently, an effort has been made to structure each four year cycle of the competition to include the Acts of the Apostles, Genesis - the book of beginnings, and one of the four Gospel accounts. An effort is also made to alternate the competitions between Old and New Testament books every other year. These are not hard and fast rules, just guidelines to achieve the most benefit from the children's study of the Bible.

Charlie Dove has organized the annual Junior Bible Bowl since 1992 and has committed to facilitate this event through its twenty-fifth year in 2003. The competitions during those years are as follows:

1992     Gospel of Luke     19 teams competing      
1993     Proverbs     13 teams competing      
1994     Genesis     18 teams competing at Carlisle
1995     Acts of the Apostles     17 teams competing
1996     Gospel of Luke     19 teams competing
1997     Judges     22 teams competing
1998     Gospel of John     27 teams competing
1999     1 Samuel     27 teams competing
2000     Acts of the Apostles     29 teams competing
2001     Genesis     27 teams competing
2002     Gospel of Mathew     30 teams competing
2003     Exodus     22 teams competing

Dave Nicks took the reigns of the Junior Bible Bowl in 2004. Coincidentally, the book for 2004, Acts of the Apostles, was the same book being used by the Senior High Bible Bowl at Ohio Valley University. Upon further research, we discovered that OVU uses the same book each year that Lads-to-Leaders uses. So, to keep things consistent, the Camp Hill Junior Bible Bowl started using the same book as Lads-to-Leaders uses each year. The competitions held since Dave Nicks took charge are as follows:

2004     Acts of the Apostles     21 teams competing
2005     Mark     15 teams competing
2006     Genesis     15 teams competing
2007     Corinthians I and II     16 teams competing

Dave Miller took over as coordinator for the Junior Bible Bowl in 2008. The competitions held since Dave Miller took charge are as follows:

2008     Select chapters from Exodus & Joshua     13 teams competing
2009     Acts of the Apostles     13 teams competing
2010     Nehemiah, Esther, and Daniel     12 teams competing
2011     Gospel of Luke     -