When you unveil your summer blueprint this year, how will kids
respond? “Ho-hum”? Or “hip-hip-hooray”? If it’s ho-hum, it’s time
to go back to the drawing board.
You can stage a spectacular summer for your kids and community
if you make a deep investment in brainstorming-ahead of time. Don’t
let the mentality “we’ve always done it this way” stifle fresh
ideas. Use these thoughtful steps to create a sizzling summer
that’ll have a lasting impact on kids.
1. Identify your purpose. Determine what you
want to accomplish during the summer. Is it outreach and
evangelism? pre-evangelism? nurture? recreation, education, or
entertainment? Is your goal fellowship or just providing a fun,
safe environment for kids? Summer is an excellent time to work on
assimilating new kids into your group.
2. Focus your efforts. Have a flagship program
around which you’ll build your summer programming. You may choose
to build around your VBS outreach, backyard Bible clubs, or camping
programs. The energy invested in doing one thing well will spread
into other programs. You may also find that the enthusiasm
generated by your flagship program will create excitement for your
other summer events.
3. Choose a theme for the summer. It’s
surprising how few churches take advantage of this strategic idea.
In our church, we generally have a fall kickoff event in September
that sets the tone for the year. We may have a Western Roundup
kickoff and then plan a Wild West theme for the summer. Props,
costumes, and promotional material purchased for the fall event can
be recycled for use in the summer. (This is a real budget
People readily identify your summer programs visually if you use
this hitchhiking method. Here are some summer themes we’ve seen
used successfully: Circus, Summer Salts, Wild West, Hot Air
Ballooning, Island Adventure, Water Works, Fun in the Son, Sizzling
Summer, Kids’ Daze, Olympics, Space, Knights, and Kings’ Kids.
4. Chart a course. Consider the range of
activities that’ll match your stated purpose and tie into your
theme. Brainstorm summer activities in many areas, such as parent
and child events, service projects, just-for-fun activities,
outreach events, Bible enrichment, latchkey programs, summer
reading contests, and summer school tutoring.
Once a purpose, theme, and direction are established, it’s
surprising how quickly ideas will pop. One technique you can use
with a group or just as an individual is to think of all the things
regarding a theme. Be free to get wild-after all, this is
brainstorming. (See the “ABCs of Brainstorming” box.)
Here’s how it works. Say you’ve determined your summer theme to
be Wild West. What are things you associate with the West and
Take just a moment to jot ideas down. Here’s a partial list we
came up with: jail, wanted posters, branding, roping, horseshoes,
cowboys, cowgirls, saddles, horses, cows, a marshall, deputies,
trail rides, chuck wagons, badges, cactus, and rodeos.
Applying these ideas to our program was fun. Our teachers became
deputies. Nametags were cut into badge shapes. We set up a table at
our local library and let the neighborhood children make paper
cowboy hats and vests. They then colored a wanted poster that let
parents know we “wanted” their kids for vacation Bible school. We
sponsored a Reading Rodeo library contest and a bicycle rodeo. And
we provided pony rides as an attendance incentive.
After you’ve made your brainstorming list, refer to it often.
Keep this original “hot sheet” with all the scratches, doodles, and
comments. We’ve been surprised how often what seems like a silly or
far-out idea becomes an integral part of the summer fun.
Mark von Ehrenkrook is a children’s pastor in
THE ABCs OF BRAINSTORMING
Children’s workers may be among the most creative group of
When beginning to plan your summer program, have a short
Accept all ideas. Go wild. Free associations
Be creative. Thinking is free. Indulge.
Cease criticism. During the brainstorming
Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.