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Vacation Bible School Planning Schedule

2 Weeks Before Vacation Bible School

Check your registration count. Make sure you have enough first day supplies for each elementary child. Order extras, just in case—many churches experience last-minute additions, first-day surprises, and unexpected increases as kids bring their friends throughout the week. Also double-check that you have enough Leaders and assistants, assigning one to each group of five children.

Check your supply collection. Make a final announcement, or put a final supply list in your church bulletin. Gather or purchase additional supplies as necessary.

Continue publicity. Send copies of a news release to your local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. Group's PandaMania Clip Art & Resources CD has a template.) Use the snazzy clip art.
Announce your VBS in worship services and other church gatherings. Put bulletin inserts in your church’s worship bulletins. Print your own bulletin inserts from the Clip Art & Resources CD.

Before your worship service, have a few volunteers perform a fun publicity skit. Show the announcement videos found on the director's training DVD (if your VBS has one) again.

Mail additional invitation postcards, as necessary.

Make backup and emergency plans. What if it rains during your program? Plan in advance how you’ll handle bad weather. You may also want to line up backup Leaders & assistants in case some drop out. Inform Leaders and assistants of procedures to follow if there’s a fire or other emergency.


1 Week Before VBS

Dedicate staff. Introduce Leaders, assistants, and other volunteers during your church service. Then have your pastor or other church members pray that God will use these workers to touch kids’ lives with his love during Vacation Bible School.

Assign kids. (If you're using Group's PandaMania or Hometown Nazareth Use VBS P.R.O. to easily set up Crews. If you’re not using VBS P.R.O., photocopy the “Crew Rosters” list in the Ultimate Director Go-To Guide.) You’ll need one roster for each Crew. Using the preregistration forms you’ve received, assign children to elementary and preschool. Each Crew should have no more than five children and one adult or teenage Crew Leader. Be sure that each preschool Crew has a mix of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old boys and girls.
Here are some additional guidelines for assigning Crews:

  • Fill in Crew rosters in pencil—you’ll probably make changes as you work.
  • Whenever possible, place a child from each age level in each Crew. If the age distribution at your program is uneven, include as wide an age range as you can. Guarantee success for everyone involved by not forming single-age Crews.
  • Include a good mix of boys and girls in each Crew.
  • If a child is bringing a friend, assign the two children to the same Crew, if possible. If a child is bringing several friends, assign pairs of kids to different Crews.
  • In general, it works best to assign siblings to different Crews. However, you know the children in your church. Use your judgment as to whether siblings should be together.
  • If you anticipate behavior problems with certain children or have children with special needs, assign them to Crews that have more experienced adult Leaders.
  • If you have children who are particularly helpful or cooperative, assign them to Crews that have teenage Crew Leaders.
  • If you want your program to have a strong outreach emphasis, limit each Crew to three children and encourage kids to fill their Crews by bringing their friends.
  • Remember to leave open spaces in a few Crews for kids who haven’t preregistered. Your goal is to make sure each Crew contains only five children.
  • Once you’ve finished assigning Crews, double-check that you haven’t forgotten anyone or double-booked anyone.

After you’ve assigned elementary-age children to Crews, assign each Crew to one of four larger groups. (Remember, one-fourth of the kids at VBS travel together at a time.) Label these four groups A, B, C, and D—or use your creativity to name them something that fits the VBS theme, such as Panda Pals or Bamboo Buddies. Crews travel with their larger groups as they visit the stations each day. For more information about assigning Crews to groups, see the Ultimate Director Go-To Guide.

Meet with Station Leaders again. Check with leaders to make sure they have all the required supplies, and answer any questions they may have. Work together to smooth out any last-minute details.

Decide when and where Station Leaders and Crew Leaders will meet each day. It’s a good idea to have your staff arrive early on Day 1 to greet children and assist with registration. Be sure each Crew Leader has a large sign with his or her Crew number or Crew name written on it.

Help Station Leaders decorate their rooms. Use the decorating ideas found in the colorful VBS catalog or leader packs to turn your church into a wild and crazy bamboo forest, filled with a pack of playful pandas.


During VBS

Register new children. Make sure you have plenty of workers on hand to register kids the first day. (This is an excellent way to use volunteers who aren’t available to help the entire week.) Set up separate registration sites for preregistration check-in and walk-in registration. Follow the Day 1 registration procedures outlined in the Ultimate Director Go-To Guide.

After Day 1, maintain a registration table to register kids who join your program midweek.

Meet with Crew Leaders during Party Time Sing & Play. Each day, the Party Time Sing & Play Leader will excuse Crew Leaders for a quick huddle and prayer with you outside the Party Time Sing & Play area. This is a great time to ask Crew Leaders if they have any needs or concerns, to make last-minute announcements or schedule changes, and to encourage your Crew Leaders. Lead a prayer, asking God to bless your day, protect everyone, and give all leaders wisdom as they work with each child.

Meet with Station Leaders and Crew Leaders after each day’s program. Check in with all PandaMania staff to see what went smoothly and what could be improved for future days. Be prepared to change schedules, rooms, or procedures. You may even need to reassign some Crews. Work together to make any necessary changes to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Give announcements during Party Time Sing & Play or Rowdy Wrap-Up. During the course of the program, you may need to change schedules, stations, or Crew assignments. You also may have personal messages or lost-and-found items to deliver to participants. Each day check with the Party Time Sing & Play Leader and Rowdy Wrap-Up Leader to schedule any announcements you would like everyone to hear.

Attend Party Time Sing & Play and Rowdy Wrap-Up each day. These opening and closing activities will give you a good indication of how your adventure is proceeding. They also provide opportunities for children to see you and to identify you as the Director. Each day, the Party Time Sing & Play Leader may call on you to pray before dismissing kids to their stations. Besides, you’ll have fun!

Peek into as many stations as you can. We visit a variety of VBS programs every year, and we’re amazed at how many directors don’t really know what’s happening in the stations. While you don’t need to hover over the kids or make your Station Leaders nervous, it’s important to know that leaders are following your guidelines.

Help your staff be the best it can be. Your helpful presence will let staff members know that they’re not alone. This is also a good time to make sure they’re following the program so it will be powerful. Remember, Station Leaders need to follow the leader guides, because each station plays an important role in children’s overall learning experience.

Make sure all Station Leaders and Crew Leaders are present each day. Arrange for substitutes, if necessary. If you’re in a pinch for Crew Leaders, ask the Party Time Sing & Play Leader and Rowdy Wrap-Up Leader to fill in—or appoint yourself Crew Leader for a day.

Make sure Station Leaders and Crew Leaders have the supplies they need each day. Have a runner available to collect or purchase additional supplies, if necessary.

Help with discipline problems, as necessary. In PandaMania field tests (and from real programs across North America), workers encountered virtually no discipline problems. Each day was so full of fun Bible-learning activities that kids didn’t have time to misbehave. Combined-age Crews encourage kids to work together instead of squabble, and minor problems can be handled by Station Leaders or Crew Leaders. So your job is easy!

Stock and maintain a first-aid site. Keep a good supply of adhesive bandages and first-aid ointment on hand, along with phone numbers for local clinics and hospitals. You may also want to keep photocopies of kids’ registration forms near your first-aid site. You can use the forms to check for allergies or other health concerns. Be sure to tell your Crew Leaders of any allergies or special needs, too.

Keep an eye on Crews. You may notice that some Crew Leaders just aren’t tuning in to their Crew members and you need to reassign a few volunteers to more suitable jobs. Or if a Crew Leader is struggling with a group that suddenly grew, split the Crew into two more manageable groups. A “heads up” attitude will make this VBS experience the best for each child involved.

Prepare completion certificates. Fill out a certificate for each child. A sample completion certificate is usually in your Starter Kit, and additional certificates are available from your VBS supplier.

Send the memories home! We’ve heard it again and again: “My kids can’t stop singing those songs!” Plan to provide (or sell) Music CDs for the kids at your program. Set up a table with information on how to obtain the media items near your drop-off and/or pick-up area. (One church we visited already had them available at the registration table on the first day—great idea!)

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