Did you catch the earlier blog posts from other leaders who have been WINNING at creative programming during a pandemic? Learn more about Backyard VBS and get some ideas for Virtual VBS on the blog. Today, we will learn about hosting a Hybrid Virtual VBS with Backyard VBS Groups! This Hybrid VBS model will include partially virtual, backyard groups, and socially-distanced gatherings.
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
Hybrid VBS and Backyard VBS Groups Concept
What was the name of your VBS program?
Summer Blast Focus
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. In our brainstorming and research, we put together a hybrid program that was partially virtual, backyard groups, and socially-distanced party!
To make this hybrid virtual VBS work, our team created resource boxes that we sent home with families (118 boxes total!). These boxes contained supplies for the activities, 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.
In order to participate in VBS, families purchased boxes for $5 each. Then, we encouraged participants to invite their neighbors and friends to engage in the virutal VBS 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 awesome VBS songs, 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. Thanks to their generosity, families raised almost $800! We were blown away!
Hybrid VBS and Backyard VBS Groups Logistics
How did you staff your program? What roles were involved in planning and execution?
For staffing the VBS, our original team of three staff members were the core of the planning efforts. We made the shift to this new hybrid virtual VBS model in quarantine. With the three core members, 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?
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?
For resources, we used the boxes given to host families to include activities, crafts, and missions.
Marketing Hybrid VBS and Backyard VBS Groups
How did you promote or market your program?
To market our VBS, 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 announcement videos on our private Facebook page. In addition, we 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?
To engage our participants, we asked them to send in photos of their participation for our Facebook page. Another fun way to follow-up was our Summer Blast FX to talk about what we had learned. At this event, 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?
After the event, we received very positive feedback through our Facebook page and private messages from those participating in Summer Blast. If we repeat the hybrid virtual VBS model, 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.