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

What is your name and job title?
Kathy Price, director of Elementary Ministries

Where is your church or ministry program located (city, state)?Oakwood Community Church in Waconia, Minnesota

What was the name of your VBS program?
Summer Blast Focus 2020

What was the general concept of your program?
When our VBS planning had to shift from working on an in-person event to a COVID-19 friendly event, we saw it as an opportunity to get creative. We brainstormed and researched and put together a hybrid program that was part virtual, part backyard groups, and part socially-distanced party!

Our team created resource boxes that we sent home with families (118 boxes total!). These boxes contained supplies for the activities, the crafts, and an agenda for each day of VBS. We also posted fun and engaging teaching videos online through Playlister. This allowed us to customize the video elements we wanted the families in our community to see.

Families purchased the boxes for $5 each, and then we encouraged them to invite their neighbors and friends to participate in VBS with them in smaller settings. We gave families the freedom to schedule their VBS program in a way that best served their group. In all, they needed to complete the program within one month. To culminate the month, we met together on our church lawn to play games, sing the awesome songs from our VBS program together, and enjoy ice cream and popcorn snacks.

During our VBS time, we encouraged families and groups to participate in a missions project to support RiceBowls.org, and they raised almost $800! We were blown away by their generosity!

How did you staff your program? What roles were involved in planning and execution?
Our original team of three staff members were the core of the planning efforts. We made the shift to this new VBS model in quarantine. So, our planning meetings took place over Zoom, group text messages, and emails. As we got ready to pack boxes, our team grew with volunteers who came in to help us with this task. 

Did you charge a fee per child or per family?
Our boxes cost $5 each. Other than that, there was no fee to participate in the program.

Did you provide any resources to parents, families, or kids for your program?
The boxes that we handed out to host families included any of the resources they’d need for activities, crafts, and missions.

How did you promote or market your program?
We used Planning Center Services to create a registration and listed the event on our church website. We also promoted the event at our regular online church service through announcements and made videos and announcements on our private Facebook page. We also sent a postcard to everyone who participated last year.

What kind of follow-up did you do with the people who participated in your program?
We engaged our participants on our Facebook Page and asked them to send in photos of their participation. We also held Summer Blast FX to talk about what we had learned, we celebrated with our “Motion Crew,” and played a few “Minute to Win It” games.

Is there anything that you plan to change if you repeat this VBS program in the future?
We received very positive feedback through our Facebook page and private messages from those participating in Summer Blast. If we repeat this program, I might look for group leaders who would be more intentional about hosting groups of kids in their neighborhood.

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.”