5 Tips For a Successful VBS or Children's Summer Program


Streamline your VBS or Summer Youth Programs for both volunteers and participants!  We've included step-by-step instructions on how forms can simplify your summer ministry registration,  promotion, and communication!


Summer is almost here, which means it is time to start planning for this year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) & Summer Children’s Programming!

A lot goes into hosting a week full of activities and children. You will want to have everything in place well in advance. It’s especially critical as you walk through the VBS planning stages to recruit and equip quality volunteers.  

With so much going on before and during the week of VBS and programming, it’s important to have a dedicated team of volunteers to help run the show.


Build a Foundation for an Easy Registration and Sign-Up Process

  • Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Long before you and your team begin recruiting volunteers, invest the time into building your registration and volunteer onboarding process.  Creating a structured process not only gives you the best chance to recruit well, but to retain the recruits you do get and train them to go and accomplish the vision you set forth.
    • Within your ChMS are all the tools needed to construct a simple process both for you, and your church members. Below is a sample Registration and Sign-Up process for reference!
      • Volunteer Interest Form – Get this out as early as possible and list areas of greatest need to begin getting an idea of where people would like to serve.
      • Volunteer Sign-Up Form – This will serve as your master sign-up form. Use this to receive contact info and begin organizing your volunteers based on where they would like to serve.
      • Child Registration Form – This form will be used to collect information about the child that will be participating in your programming as well as their parents and how to contact them. It may also be used to collect payments, T-Shirt sizes, food allergies, etc.
      • Volunteer Prospect Group – Create a group like this to house anyone who may be interested in serving in your summer programming. Use Mass Contact (Email & Text) to send updates and information as needed.
      • Volunteer Group – Create a group specifically for those who have signed up. Use Mass Contact (Email & Text) to send updates and information as needed.
      • Child Registrants and Parents Group – Create this group to organize and track those who have signed up for your programming.


Recruit Early and Often!

Once your registration and the sign-up process are bulletproof, you are now ready to begin recruiting. Get the word out to your congregation. Share the vision behind why you’re hosting a VBS. During announcements, communicate the information (dates, roles, needs), but emphasize the passion behind the why. When people understand how impactful these events are to children (and entire families!), they may be more inclined to get involved. 

Use your ChMS to streamline recruiting. Below are some suggestions on how to make the system work for you!

  • Organize people into groups like the ones above and utilize the Mass Contact feature. Send out news, information, and maybe even some stories about how your event has impacted the lives of past participants.
  • Share your forms everywhere! You’ve spent time making sure your forms are perfect, so now is the time to share them all over the place. Have questions? Use this article to learn how to Share Forms Like A Pro!
  • Keyword Texting - Did you know someone can access your registration form just by sending a text? Keyword texting is a quick and simple way to get important information into the hands of your congregation. Something as easy as sending a text keyword like "VBS" to your text-giving number can return the registration form for sign-up! 


Equip Your Volunteers

  • Host a Training!
    •  Provide training for both the leadership team and the volunteers. Have a general session with everybody to briefly discuss important things like safety, discipline, and rules. Then dismiss groups to attend their role-specific training. Those involved with check-in could learn the system. Volunteers who are helping with media can get acquainted with any technical programs you’ll be using.  
  • Provide a Training Packet
    • This is your “VBS week in review” guide for volunteers and should be part of an orientation manual. Along with the dates and times, you’ll want to include important preparation items for your volunteers to review prior to training. Such items will include the overall VBS theme, lesson summaries, and relevant Scriptures. Include things like safety procedures, discipline procedures, and rules (like dress code, picture taking, bathroom policies, etc.) Impress on each volunteer the importance of preparing for the event in prayer and reading the Bible. 
  • Assign Leadership Roles
    • Aside from the general volunteers, it’s wise to assign leadership roles—including grade-level leaders, teachers, registration, marketing, and overseers for crafts, activities, games, skits, and snacks. A good leadership team will help shoulder the weight of VBS by overseeing key areas. This will help reduce the burden of only one or two people having to do all the work.
  • Schedule a dress rehearsal
    • Physically walk the volunteers through the different stations for the week. Allow volunteers to go to their specific stations with their team lead to ask any last-minute questions and receive more specific instructions related to their role. This walkthrough should give every team member a very clear picture of their duties during the VBS week. 


Implement Proper Safety Measures with Protect My Ministry!

When bringing on volunteers for your VBS program, be sure to conduct thorough background checks on each and every person who applies. On average 7% of background checks have proven to reveal criminal records, so it’s a crucial step. Thankfully, conducting background checks is easier than ever with your ChMS. Quick and efficient background checks can be ordered with the click of a button, ensuring the safety of your VBS and summer program and protection for the church behind it.


Follow-Up Well

Children and Students make life-changing decisions at VBS and Summer Programs, so making sure to follow up with them afterward is crucial in their spiritual journey. Being able to follow up well after events like these increases the chances that they stick to their decision long-term.

Check out some ways you and your team can follow up well using your ChMS!

  • Send Follow-Up Emails after your event.
    • Using your mass contact feature, send out an email at the conclusion of your event celebrating everything that was accomplished and thanking everyone involved. 
  • Build a Feedback Form and send it out after your event.
    • Ask good questions both about the event and any decisions that their child may have made during the week.  This will give you a chance to come alongside the parent and child to help them in their spiritual journey!
  • Thank your volunteers and invite them to join you again next year.
    • Whether your “Thank You!” is simple or extravagant, find a way to thank your volunteers in a meaningful way. But don’t simply leave it there! Make sure to use this opportunity to invite them back for next year or for your next big event. 





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