I have worked at many Vacation Bible Schools since I was a teenager and chaos can often reign.
You have 100 to 200 kids who are usually only there for one week, which makes it hard to get everyone into patterns. And it is usually run by volunteers who only meet once or twice beforehand to prepare.
But I think a strong administrative structure and some good memos can make the difference between a well-organized VBS and one where you feel like you’re wrangling cats.
This is my first year teaching at our new church, and I have been impressed with their set up. I wanted to share a few ideas that I’ve seen work through the years. And I am hoping that you guys can offer up tips that have worked well at your VBS.
That first morning arrival is often a mess. The kids are all trying to get checked in and find their leaders.
A couple of thoughts on this:
1. Instead of a central check in that gets backed up, I really like the teachers making phone calls the week before. We told the parent our class color, class name, symbol and what snack they needed to bring. So when they showed up the first morning they headed straight into the hall and looked for their color and the sign with their mascot on it. Each teacher checked in her own kids. So no back up and they were ready to start the morning session in their group.
2. Color-coded T-shirts for teachers and kids help the entire day. The shirts help visually organize in the big session and if you find a kid wandering you know where he belongs by his shirt. Plain colored T-shirts can be found at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s for $3 to $4. Only down side is you have to wash each night.
3. Name tags given to class teacher ahead of time – we have been given all the kids name tags ahead of time. I was advised to use curling ribbon instead of yarn (it tangles less) and was told to place them on hangers. (You know the kind that work on spaghetti strap dresses.)
4. We were given a countdown list of what to do two weeks before and one week before.
5. We were given a list of snacks that each kid will contribute to the group, such as boxes of Chex cereal or pretzels (to make Chex mix to share). They are supposed to bring in their snack contributions on the first day and then the kitchen team will have it all ready to distribute each day.
6. Don’t deal with lunch. We are running for about 3 hours so they are giving the kids a snack and not dealing with lunch, which helps reduce the stuff you are keeping up with. They didn’t advise them to bring towels but that always seemed like a good thing.
7. We had a three-day window to come in and decorate our classrooms and get the supplies we needed set up.
What things seemed to work well at your VBS – whether you taught or were just dropping off? What helped contain the chaos?