The summer months are upon us, and for many organizations, this means it’s time to plan and prepare for Vacation Bible School (VBS). VBS is a fun-filled week of activities and ministry for children. However, there are many factors to consider in your planning, including staffing and volunteers, outside activities and First-Aid. Make sure your church is prepared to handle the excitement of children and the risk factors associated with those events.
Staffing and Volunteers
VBS is a large event and in order for it to be organized and executed efficiently, churches often utilize help from staff and volunteers. While this help is appreciated and can create a positive environment for participants, organizations must ensure these individuals can be entrusted with the care of children. Therefore, it is important to utilize background checks for all employees and volunteers. Check these reports for any offenses involving children and any sexual offenses or crimes of violence that would preclude someone from being a VBS worker.
The care for children is important, but it also is necessary to consider the care for adults. Specifically, preventing sexual harassment between adults is important in creating an all-around safe environment. Consider these safeguards to prevent your organization from experiencing a sexual harassment allegation:
- Clearly articulate that sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Have written and posted policies that clearly define what constitutes sexual harassment.
- Conduct initial training for new workers and ongoing training for employees and volunteers.
Many VBS events are often held outdoors. Being outside also creates a more entertaining and enjoyable environment for children. When setting up outside, consider the following:
- Move all cords (speakers, microphones, etc.) away from walkways. At the very least, cords should be held down and visibly marked with colored tape.
- Mark and protect all stakes and ropes for large, outdoor tents.
- Depressions and holes in grassy areas should either be filled or visibly marked. Consider planning activities away from any such hazards.
- Make sure that any temporary (folding) tables and chairs being used are sturdy and free from defects.
- Monitor weather reports and make alternative plans in case the weather appears threatening.
Take the necessary steps to prepare your staff and volunteers for any medical situation that could occur. Consider training these adults about basic First Aid and CPR. Additionally, review your church’s First-Aid kit, and ensure it is fully stocked and up-to-date. Developing a plan with specific steps for specific medical situations can make the difference in effectively handling a medical emergency.