Next week is Vacation Bible School at Lutheran Church the Good Shepherd. Over the past 10 years, VBS has shared God’s love with kids through launching pandas, deep sea adventures and now Maker Fun Factory. But what do you do to keep things fresh and kids coming back year after year? Here is what I do:
Join or Start a VBS Co-op. Five years ago, I joined a VBS Co-op with two other churches. With Amanda Boe of Community of the Cross Lutheran Church in Bloomington, MN and Cathie Samuelson of St. John’s Lutheran Church, we meet monthly starting in January. Together, we divvy up the decorating details, share in ideas and support one another. It saves in cost, time, clean up and less impact on the environment. Plus, it is fun being collaborative!
Listen to kids. To get an idea on how to do things differently, check in with the kids on what they might want to do. This year, Anna, a 3rd grader, asked me: “If VBS is called Maker Fun Factory will there be a candy making rotation?” I told her “Yes!” I moved the story rotation to the opening to make room for the candy one. Kids know what is fun and what they like. Listen to their ideas!
Curriculum Tweaks. No curriculum is perfect. Feel free to edit it to fit your program needs. Craft projects through purchased curriculum can be expensive. Use Pinterest to find projects from everyday products like TP rolls or paper plates. In past years, I have had an artist-in-residence program to make collaborative projects. Last year we focused on a take home science project. Kids along with a teacher and recommendations from Pet Smart made aquariums with a free Beta fish.
Recreate Service Projects. One area kids get really excited about is service projects. We do the normal food shelf and penny drive collection for various needs. But I have found that the kids love to take a field trip. At the end of week, kids and VBS staff walk around the corner to the nursing home. We bring a homemade dessert and provide a Bible sing-a-long. The residents love their energy and happy faces.
Any Age Volunteer. Never turn down a volunteer. Not everyone can be there that week but many people love to prep materials at home. My 4th-6th graders, who feel they are aging out, make the best crew leader assistants with the preschoolers. They can both play and help! Grandparents love on the children! Parents, teenagers and young adults – there is a place for everyone in VBS. It’s a true cross+generational experience with kids age 3 to 70 (or older!).