Crazy, huh? As the KidMin blogs continue to discuss whether or not to even invest in summer VBS, we choke it up and put on two. Although we are a smaller church, the most amazing volunteers took on two difference vacation bible schools within 3 weeks of each other this summer. We were on a mission to present an exciting faith in Jesus Christ to little people, and we needed real data to answer some nagging questions.
We planned our typical night time VBS the last week of June with a themed program from a national publishing house. AND we planned a three-day day time VBS in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month of July with a themed, denominational publishing house from last year.
This is what we learned:
1. Both curriculum’s provided great material.
The denominational program offered a fantastic gathering of options to choose from which would be great for seasoned VBS volunteers. The books were lengthier and required a lot more filtering, prep, and people. Flexibility was tremendous and the creativity was plentiful. For a seasoned VBSer, this was a dream. It was like diving into the deep end of a beautiful pool.
The national program offered 3 concise options/goals for each day at each station. The beautiful visuals and concise tips were perfect for newbies to VBS. It offered a short list of supplies found in most KidMin closets or kitchens and even with no prep time, could be implemented with ease and success.
We were blessed by the generosity of shared decorations and assorted goodies from other churches both in the area and shipped all the way from West Virginia.
2. All of the kids who came to the nighttime VBS were familiar faces. 50% of the day time VBS kids were new faces, escorted by grandmas and stay at home moms who loaded the family SUV with friends of their own kids to share the experience.
3. Even a larger number of day time kids were much more calm than a smaller number of night time kids. We had to fire up the day time kids for singing and dancing. We had to calm down and herd the night time kids for singing, dancing and programming.
4. Our volunteer youth involved in team activities and band were available to lead and serve in June, but by July they were involved in practices and their own camps, making some of our best volunteers only available in June.
5. Night time VBS gave us 2 volunteers per student. Day time VBS gave us 1 volunteer for every 2 kids. Lots of volunteers were great and frequent communication was necessary. A skeleton crew of volunteers were great and not as much communication was necessary. The lesser communication needs may have been because they had just experienced the night time VBS and knew “the ropes.”
6. For the first time we planned an end-of-week family celebration for the night time and not for the 2nd daytime week. The end-of-week celebration gave our folks a chance to mix and mingle, build relationship, and fantastic photo ops. THIS, we will do again. The families sing, dance, eat, visit, play, and laugh. What new and visiting parent or grandparent wants to see their kids happy, running free, and see other folks loving on their prince or princess? Every single one of them! We planned an outdoor picnic for the last daytime snack station and it was also fantastic.
All this begs an answer to 3 questions our Children’s Council will consider:
What is the purpose of VBS? …audience or volunteer? us or them?
What “type” of volunteer do we have? …what curriculum will we choose if our volunteers are more newbies or more seasoned?
What is the best date to offer VBS? …when are there more volunteers; when can the visitors have access to the pastoral staff?
How do you decide the best time, best date, and the best goal of your VBS? How do you measure successful investment in your VBS?