Ahh, the lazy days of summer…SUMMER!? What does that mean to Children’s Ministry? Vacation Bible School or Kids Camp!
Our Equip KidMin lead writer, Dwayne, experienced the pain of VBS check-in first hand. At a previous church where he served, his VBS attendance jumped from about 80 kids to over 250 kids in one year. Great, right? Sort of. The problem was that his check-in procedures weren’t ready to handle the influx of new families. The result: long lines and some families opting to leave instead of wait. From that point forward he determined never again to let check-in hinder ministry.
When we led day camps at our church, we had to figure out how to handle over 700 kids each day. Our parameters: Check-in couldn’t take forever; the system had to be simple, and everyone stayed secure. These are the same types of challenges churches face each year during their summer big events.
Here’s some ideas to help you navigate that dreaded first day of check-in.
- Have fast pass tables – these tables are alpha lines with pre-registered camper packets. In the packets include their wristbands, information sheets and campus maps.
- Make sure to utilize your computer check-in system by having all pre-registered campers assigned to a classroom. On the first day, the stickers will print out with their name and classroom assignment. We have also used color gaff tape on the floors of the hallways to make finding their rooms easier. For example, our greeters were able to look for their room number on the color coded map and tell them to follow the red tape on the floor to their classroom.
- For those who have not pre-registered, pass out clipboards with the registration paperwork and have them fill in out while in line. Don’t forget to have plenty of pens. Once they reach the table, have registration packets ready for them. A great way to keep up with room ratios is to have the same amount of packets that you have room for in each area (i.e., five packets of 4th grade girls—pink wristbands) Then when you have passed them all out, you know that room is full. Remember to write the room/group on the registration form!
Whether your event is small or big, once they’re checked in on that first day you’ll want to have a great system in place to help you organize the groups and create an orderly check-out. Groups may be categorized by age, grade, gender or even all three. For your church, you may even have more options. So how do you help your parents and campers find AND stay in their groups? Color-coded wristbands, that’s how. These types of wristbands help your organization needs in so many ways.
Here’s some ways that wristbands can help you simplify the process:
- Weather/shower proof. They can last on the child’s wrist the full week. (Make sure you explain this to your parents, so they don’t take them off when they get home)
- Group identifiers. Pink wristbands—3rd-grade girls, Green wristbands—2nd-grade boys, etc.
- Tear away number tabs. Each band has a tab that has the same number as on the wristband. These numbers can be used all week to release children, securely, to their parents or guardian. (Hint: Have the parent take a picture of the tab in case it is misplaced, or so the parent text it to another adult who needs to pick up their child)
- Lost child assistance. That moment when you have a lost child who has accidentally followed another group. It’s easy to see that pink wristband when everyone else in that group has yellow ones.
- Price! You can find solid color wristband for as little as $16 for a box of 500. You can use leftovers for other events throughout the year such as Easter egg hunts or pool parties. They are a great investment for the whole year.
- Stickers don’t stick. They fall off in jumpy castles and become goopy when wet.
Check out these duplicate number wristbands and other options at churchnursery.com. Check-in shouldn’t get in the way of ministry; instead, it’s a tool to ensure a safe and fun summer.
This article originally appeared here.