Vacation Bible School

Monday, June 27, 2005

Final Director's Report

We had a final director's meeting to discuss our overall impressions of VBS. Here are the thoughts we had:

Highlights: The teacher’s packets. We felt that they really kept things organized. The food was excellent, especially the chocolate desserts for the adults! The recreation and music sections were wonderful.

Did we meet our goals?

- General
- We wanted everyone to have fun. We think they did.
- Increase community awareness of UBC. We’re not sure how successful this was.
- Fulfilling our mission
- We wanted to make $100 for the mission project. Check.

- Nurturing our members
- Have 5 teacher meetings – we only had three, but that seemed to be enough.
- Do post-mortems – halfway there now!
- Teacher appreciation – yes

- Invite newcomers to learn about Jesus
- Challenge each kid to bring two friends to VBS – did that
- Have publicity packets available for kids to give to their friends – there were some
- Invitation letters to go out to any new parents for closing ceremony – did that
- Flyers in schools and to summer camps – did not do this.

- Attendance and staffing
- We wanted to fill all volunteer positions – we did that, with help from some ECC members
- We wanted to have 52 kids including 5 new ones – we had 49 and 5
- We wanted to have one high school helper per class – no, but it didn’t seem to be necessary.

Here are some general thoughts on various sections of VBS:

Opening Ceremony: Went very well. Carl is a superior emcee. We’d like to move the skit to the closing ceremony.

Classtime: It was thought to be too short. We think ending at 8:15 rather than 8:00, or moving to a 5-day VBS would be good. There were several class interruptions that might be minimized – maybe setting the offering plate outside the door. Having snacks already in the room was good though. The teacher’s workbooks were very good.

Mealtime: Also too short. It was unclear whether the meal was aimed at teachers only or everyone (since everyone came!) Maybe starting the meal at 5:15 would help. Transitioning from eating to upstairs didn’t go very well.

Mission Project: We liked Julia’s presentations. We wonder if the goals of the mission project were clearly understood before VBS started. We would have liked an announcement for each class’s donation amount, or a visual aid like a thermometer, at each night’s closing.

Publicity: Sign still wasn’t very clear – maybe the phone number should be dropped. Maybe using yard signs, like election signs, would have been better. We thought the wording of the newspaper announcement was a bit odd. The packets that were mailed out might have been significantly cheaper with lighter paper. We should have had a few extra packets several weeks before VBS. Maybe even some to set out on the foyer table.

Classrooms: We noted that some of the larger classes had some of the smaller spaces. We’re not sure what can be done about this.

Campfire: When the campfire was announced, everyone went outside, but they did their own thing: go to the campfire, play basketball, or wander away with friends. We would like to see this done more formally, like at summer camp. Everyone should be sitting down with a leader doing songs, maybe with ice cream bars or caramel popcorn.

Adult class: The class itself went well. Maybe renaming it the “Parent’s class” would help – we noticed many adults sitting around downstairs that we would have liked to have been involved. Maybe it could be moved outside or somewhere a little less formal.

Volunteers: We were impressed with the number of volunteers we had. We wonder if maybe some of the volunteers could have helped out in classrooms when not doing other things.

VBS Challenge: The prize baskets worked out well. They should have been available several weeks before VBS to generate enthusiasm. We’d like to see this done again.

Crafts: Crafts could have been done a lot more cheaply, but it would be a challenge to make sure they are church-related somehow. If we involve the craft leader much earlier, we might see if they are interested in designing their own projects.

Recreation: Terrific! We want to have it on all four nights instead of just three.

Skits: We liked having the kids involved with the skits, although it is a challenge to find rehearsal time. We would like to do the skit at the closing ceremony rather than the opening, as it gives away some of the things the teachers will be discussing.

Music: A highlight.

Closing Ceremonies: OK, but we were worried about the dismissal process. We would like to see all the teachers keep their kids until they are actually picked up by parents. This should be emphasized in teacher training.

Final Ceremony: Very nice, but about 15 minutes too long. With all the 3-5 year olds there, things need to move fairly quickly. We’re ambivalent about videotaping – some found it distracting.

Teacher Appreciation: Each night we gave a small token to each teacher with a message of appreciation and a mint or something. Very nice, and not expensive. Should be done again.

Meetings: We scheduled some meetings for classroom teachers and some for other volunteers. We think the meetings should have been divided differently – move craft/music/rec teachers into teacher meeting, although that might have made the meeting too big. Should this be renamed teacher training instead of meetings?

Miscellaneous: Should we plan for more backups for sick teachers? We didn’t find out until very late that the emergency exit signs are supposed to be off unless a breaker trips.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Closing Ceremony

We spent the whole service Sunday on VBS - I thought it was great. We did four songs using the instrumental music from the CD, and all the kids got up on stage and did the hand movements that went with the songs. We printed bulletin inserts so the grownups could sing along too. The Level 2 class did a short presentation, and they did the closing day skit. Finally, the choir sang a song with a solo by Cynthia, age 9, and she did a great job. The only problem was that the whole thing went a trifle longer than a normal service. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!

Just the two more meetings to go, then we have to put together a file for next year, and go dark. I'm not sure who will be directing next year, but I am sure we'll find out soon!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Day 4

The last day of VBS. Everything went smoothly, and the closing campfire went well. We drew our "Visitor Challenge" prize packages, and our son won one of them, which doesn't seem quite right, so we'll share them with another kid that brought some guests.

The adults seemed more interested in s'mores around the campfire than the kids did! I think the biggest hit with the older boys was when I went to the car and brought out my basketball pump. There were five or six balls bouncing around, and every one of them needed a little air. Three of them were in my transportation car, but I didn't have the heart to stop the game until about 8:45 since they were having so much fun.

All the crafts are done; all the songs are sung. VBS is over for another year. But rather than have a sermon this Sunday we'll have our closing program. It will mostly be a regular service, but we'll have VBS songs instead of our regular hymns, kids will take the offering, and we'll have a couple of VBS related presentations. To wrap everything up, we'll schedule one final director's meeting and one final teacher's meeting to give everyone a chance to talk about what went right and what went wrong. I'll post about those after they happen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Day 3

I finally got the camcorder there and working and got some good shots. The theme for day 3 was "Believe the King". The littlest kids, the two-year-olds, mostly just stay in the nursery, but the nursery leader brought them out to do the craft, which was painting a little lion. There's several rows of lions in the corner of the crafts area looking very nice! I taped the oldest class as well doing recreation; they were playing a "Capture the Flag" style game. I avoided jumping in though...they also managed their first visitor of the week, so it looks like we'll have to buy those movie passes after all! The 3-5 year-olds painted puppets for their craft time - they were very proud of them and spent a lot of time trying to eat my camera. Dinner was hot dogs and mac-n-cheese, with a spectacular homemade chocolate mocha brownie for dessert! It comes of taking care in choosing the kitchen staff. Final evening class tomorrow with the campfire at the end. I think we've managed to buy our Heifer Project bees and rabbits as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Day 2

I left work a little earlier today and managed to get the kids there in time to have dinner. One boy was a bit frightened by the loud noises in the opening program and had to stay out in the hall, but everyone had fun. The 4th - 6th grade class had just three kids tonight, which is just as well as the teachers were sick again and the teenagers came to the rescue. They are a true blessing to the church. Recreation was an obstacle course and hula hoops - I missed seeing 7th and 8th graders running it, unfortunately, but watching the 3-5's with their hula hoops was a joy. They painted their own puppets for craft time, while the older kids made suncatchers. The rain's held off for both days so far! Dinner was homemade pizza - everyone thoughtfully left me the whole veggie pizza for myself and some terrific apple pie. Forgot my camcorder again tonight so still no video, and the battery went dead in the still camera. Aargh! I borrowed Pastor Annette's camera and took some bad pictures. Her camera is nicer than mine but I don't work it very well.

Day 1

Day 1 is in the books! We had around 30 kids and nearly as many volunteers. Registration wasn't as smooth as we would have liked - the problem is that most of the families are veterans and the kids already know what they're doing, so they don't bother to check in. But the opening program was great and the music leader is doing a super job. The 3-5 year old class had 10 kids, 9 of which were boys, but the girl was still the toughest one of the lot. The K-3rd graders had the biggest class with 15 - what a job for those teachers! while the 4th-6th grade teachers both called in sick, causing our stomachs to turn somersaults. But one of them sent her teenager and the teen's boyfriend in her place, and a blessing they were. I had six kids to pick up and got caught in traffic on the way there, so my kids had to wolf their dinner before the program started, and I forgot to charge the camcorder battery so no video. But at one point I was sitting upstairs while all the kids were busy, and I turned to someone and told them everything was going so smoothly I didn't know what to do with myself! She offered to start a small fire in the sanctuary, but I declined. Tacos for dinner - delicious!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Volunteer commissioning

We put our prize baskets out on the registration table and the kids were three deep trying to get a look at them. We'll have to remember to get them out earlier next time!

We did the volunteer commissioning today during the service. It was very nice; the 3-5 class came upstairs to watch and also to watch the emcee, Carl, give a two-minute presentation to drum up excitement. He is so good at that - came in wearing his safari outfit and pith helmet - and had worked up a series of sound effects that he triggered by remote control from a PowerPoint deck, starting with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and some Tarzan yells. He read out his "Top Ten Reasons to Attend Vacation Bible School" and got the kids pretty cranked up, so that was fun.

After church was the time we had set for teachers to decorate their classrooms. We had arranged for a spaghetti dinner to be provided afterwards but almost everyone was gone by dinnertime so we cancelled that. Everything is pretty much decorated now. In a panic, we ordered 5 extra pre-K workbooks and craft projects, to be shipped by UPS Overnight, which cost a fortune, but as my wife said, "I can't bear the thought of a four-year-old looking up at me with doe eyes and saying 'I don't have a book!'". So peace of mind is cheap at the price :)

I overlooked a letter that I need to write to parents, inviting them to the Thursday night campfire and the closing ceremony on Sunday, so I wrote that up tonight and will have to print it during class time tomorrow, when I will hopefully have a few minutes to do it. We set a hymn for the closing ceremony and added another song, so hopefully that is almost together. I'll work with Pastor to get a bulletin printed up. Next stop: VBS. I will be at the church at 5:15 and borrow a van to go pick up some of the kids who need rides. Places, everyone!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Church setup is complete

Today was dedicated to setting up the general church. Vines are hung all over the church and a dozen large animals are up as decorations in the sanctuary. The tent is set up outside for eating before VBS and the classrooms have all been cleaned. I'll post some pictures when I get them.