Did you catch the earlier blog posts from other leaders who have been WINNING at creative programming during a pandemic? Check them out here, here, here and here and enjoy today’s new idea below.

What is your name and job title?
Cheryl St Onge, director of Children’s Ministries

Where is your church or ministry program located (city, state)?Westfield, Massachusetts 

What was the name of your VBS program?
Family Summer Adventure

What was the general concept of your program?
Like many leaders, we had to change our VBS program mid-planning! We decided to create a hybrid virtual program that also included some socially-distanced activities in the community. We created a fun week of activities for families to do together based on the theme of the VBS curriculum we purchased. Each day, we posted the daily teaching videos and sent out links to families. The videos also explained the specific activity for the day and how families could participate. Everything we planned was for families to do together instead of kid-centric activities. We really wanted to create meaningful memories that were fun for all.

Monday: We hosted a family scavenger hunt at our local park. The park officials allowed us to hide clues throughout the property.

Tuesday: We created maze runs! We supplied cardboard tubes and paper plates and families did the rest! 

Wednesday: We assigned families a “Secret Service Mission Project.” We gave out sealed letters inviting them to take cookies or food to a neighbor with a note we provided and leave it without being caught!

Thursday: We hosted a Prayer Walk around the church area. We posted signs all around to encourage families to stop and pray for our church, our community, healing for others, etc.

Friday: We did a photo craft to wrap up the week with pictures we took of the family together, and did some worship songs from the CDs we handed out at the beginning of the week.  

Each day, we also gave out prizes, which we purchased from local businesses. We spent $20 per day on gift cards from the local ice cream shop, toy store, and restaurants—all places for the family to enjoy together. We also loved being able to support local businesses during the slow down from COVID-19!

How did you staff your program? What roles were involved in planning and execution?
Since this version of VBS was family-led, we had a very small team involved with planning and execution. We only had three-to-five volunteers helping out depending on the activities each day.

Did you charge a fee per child or per family?
No. It was free for families to participate.

Did you provide any resources to parents, families, or kids for your program?
We created daily videos which were a mix of the videos from our curriculum and videos that we created and shared online for families.

We also gave out Family Goodie Bags at the beginning of the week. Each family got a fun drawstring backpack with a worship CD, devotional books, their “Secret Service Mission Project” folder, a map for the scavenger hunt, and some fun trinkets.

How did you promote or market your program?
We marketed our Family Summer Adventure via social media and on our local Christian radio station’s event page.

What kind of follow-up did you do with the people who participated in your program?
We followed up with families on Facebook and also sent out postcards inviting them to our upcoming events in the fall.

Is there anything that you plan to change if you repeat this VBS program in the future?
This was such a different program for us, I’m not sure what we would do differently!

To read more non-traditional VBS ideas from leaders who have creatively continued to reach the families in their communities, check out this free ebook, “Rethinking VBS: 9 Non-Traditional Ideas to have the Very Best Summer.”