Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Easter has come and gone, flowers are beginning to bloom, and spring is finally here – which means that summer is just around the corner.
Hopefully, your church has been able to open its doors and is beginning to see people return who sheltered during the pandemic.
As the snow begins to melt and the tulips start to show off their spring colors, your team should be well on its way to planning your summer vacation Bible school.
Vacation Bible School may be a little different this year. But hopefully, your team is planning to create a fun atmosphere for kids that teaches them the awesomeness of our God.
The CDC has new guidelines for operating youth and children camps this year as we see this pandemic slowly go away. We all need to do our part to keep everyone safe, so following these guidelines is a first step in planning this year’s VBS!
Planning church events can be fun and stress-free as long as there is detailed planning and lots of hands to help.
This means taking the time to get your event organized will ensure a smooth running and successful event.
11 Things You Should Be Doing Now
1. Read The CDC Guidelines
The CDC has new guidance for summer camps. These updated guidelines can help your planning efforts and is a helpful resource.
Things to consider this year are physical distancing, screening, cleaning, food service, and activities. To name a few.
Some may be important in your environment. Some may have less of an impact on your kids. Regardless, take the time to review the guidelines so your team can take the necessary step to ensure a fun and safe camp.
2. Create An Event Budget
Creating an event budget ensures that your team is being good stewards with church money.
In addition, it can help you to designate the necessary funding for each area of the event.
Meet with your team and determine what resources are available and allocate them to each budget area.
Most events require budget dollars for these key areas:
- Marketing materials
- New for 2021 may be – cleaning supplies, barrier materials, screening supplies
Determine the projected cost of each of these areas, estimate the number of kids you anticipate attending, and this will help you figure how much to charge for the event.
For example, if you are expecting 100 kids to attend your VBS and your budget is $1000, then you would charge each child a registration fee of $10 to cover the cost of the event.
3. Establish The Theme And Goal For The Event
The theme of your event is one of the first orders of business in your planning process because the theme dictates so much of the planning details.
So whether your theme is a book of the Bible or a biblical character, your team should be finalizing the theme and determining your VBS’s goal.
For example, if your theme is the story of Daniel, then you should identify what it is you would like the children to learn about the life of Daniel by participating in the event.
Use that as a starting point for planning the details of the event.
4. Plan The Games And Activities
Vacation Bible school should be a fun event that kids look forward to.
Much of that fun is the result of planning activities and games that engage and challenge the children.
Kids also like to learn by doing so create events that provide some hands on activities to help to solidify the biblical lessons you are striving to instill in them.
Use team activities to foster teamwork, let crafts unleash the kids’ creative side, and use the teaching time to reinforce the Biblical lesson.
Don’t forget to use CDC guidelines for activities to keep kids and workers safe.
5. Recruit Volunteers
It takes lots of hands to facilitate a vacation Bible school, so you should be recruiting for that help now.
Spend some time with the planning team to identify all of the different roles you will need to fill and start the recruitment process.
Make sure you write a detailed job description for each of these roles. A job description will ensure that your volunteers understand what their responsibilities are and how to access needed supplies.
For example, if one of your volunteer roles is to help the kids with a hands-on craft project, make sure that volunteers know where to find their supplies, understand how to do the craft, and who to go to if they need help or have questions.
6. Advertise The Event
It is not too soon to give the church notice to save the date for this summer event.
Most people plan vacations months out and appreciate knowing the week VBS will be held, so they don’t make other plans for that week.
This is also true for volunteers who may need to take time off work to help with the event.
7. Begin Registering The Kids
The sooner you get kids registered, the sooner you can finalize your supply lists and activity organization.
You can start the registration process as soon as you have a date, a theme and a price for the camp.
If your church has a budget to pay for the VBS that is great. However, if you need to charge a registration fee to offset the costs of the camp, you will need to determine what that fee will be early in the budgeting process.
Parents will appreciate having some time to budget the registration fees, particularly if they have multiple children.
8. Screen Volunteers And Assign Jobs
As you begin to identify volunteers to help, make sure you do a background check. Particularly for anyone who will have direct contact with the kids.
It doesn’t matter how long you have known the person. Securing a background check will help to protect your kids and minimize the liability for your church.
Place volunteers into jobs that fit their interest and social style.
Use the people who like working with kids (not everyone does) to help with hands-on kid activities. And use the reminder of volunteers for the many other behind the scene jobs that need to be done.
Take the time to determine the best fit for volunteers to ensure the kids have the right leaders and that all volunteers can use their unique gifts.
9. Make Sure All Kids Can Attend
If is important to have a budget and it is OK to charge kids to attend.
However there will probably be kids whose parents simply can’t afford the price of registration.
Use the planning process to determine an appropriate scholarship process to ensure benevolence is available for struggling families.
Keep records of these scholarships and ensure confidentiality when dealing with sensitive family information.
10. Plan For Safety
Your job is to keep the kids safe. Create a plan to ensure the kids are safe in every aspect of the summer camp.
Think about the physical environment and eliminate any thing that could harm a child.
If you are doing activities outdoors, have a plan to ensure safety in an unexpected thunderstorm.
Make sure any volunteer in a leadership position knows what to do in the event of an unplanned emergency.
11. Train Everyone Involved
Ensure success of your event by training volunteers.
Take the time to train volunteers so that they understand the goal of the event, how their role supports that goal, and the detail of their job assignment.
The more detailed the training, the fewer questions you will be asked the week of the event. Ensure anyone helping with the event has all of the information they need to do a good job.
Summer vacation is a great time for kids to get together, have fun, and learn a lesson from the Bible. Your team’s ability to plan, organize and execute a children’s vacation Bible school will result in lots of kids learning about God and having fun in the process.