23 May Summer in Children’s Ministry – Part 4: Implementing a Summer Team
This post is part of a series about summer in children’s ministry. Specifically, this series will address:
- Changing the Pace During Summer
- Opportunities that Summer Programming Present
- Recruiting a “Summer Team” of Volunteers
- Scheduling and Implementing a “Summer Team” of Volunteers
Okay – so, hopefully you’ve read Part 3 of this series about recruiting a Summer Team of volunteers. If you’re like me, you’re knee deep in the process of promoting for Summer Team in your main services, advertising on social media, putting promotional blurbs in your program/bulletin, handing out flyers… and basically doing all you can to get people excited about joining your Summer Team of volunteers! You’ve got a few names (maybe more than a few) on that sign up sheet and these new leaders are ready to jump in for the summer.
For us, we have a series of steps we take to train, schedule, and prepare our new volunteers for their new roles. Here’s a look at our next steps:
- Summer Team Orientation
- Applications/Background Checks
Summer Team Orientation
Each year, we choose a Sunday in June to hold our Summer Team Orientation. The new volunteers that have signed up are invited through e-mail but we’ve also been pointing to this date in all of our recruiting pieces. For example, if we are using a graphic to recruit in the main service or on social media, that graphic will include the date for orientation (this graphic is from 2013).
We usually try to provide lunch at the Orientation. After some time to socialize and eat, we walk these new recruits through our Children’s Ministry Handbook. This handbook helps us cast vision about our ministry as a whole and helps us describe all of our environments and volunteer roles. As we walk through this handbook, our new volunteers get to hear all about our love for Orange and our desire to partner with families as they raise their kids in faith and character.
At the Summer Team Orientation, volunteers are given an application, as well as, a form that gives us permission to perform a background check. They are also given a deadline for the return of this paperwork. Within their application, they are asked how many times they would like to serve throughout the summer, which dates they aren’t available, and what age groups they would like to work with.
We also try to begin scheduling observations at the Summer Team Orientation. We allow each volunteer to observe in all of our Sunday morning children’s and pre-school environments. This gives them an idea of what they will be doing and helps them decide what age group they would like to work with.
While we are recruiting for our summer team, we ask our Small Group Leader Coaches to begin gathering information from the leaders on their teams, about their necessary vacation dates, etc.
I create two schedules each summer – one for our large group leaders and one for our small group leaders. We do not use any of the Summer Team recruits for our large group environment because we require an informal audition in order to lead on our large group stage. That process takes place throughout the year. However, I do like to lighten the load for our large group leaders during the summer, so I try to schedule them less than normal. This is possible because of the way the summer series are structured. You can read more about that here.
The Summer Team we recruit is strictly to give our weekly small group leaders a break. While I would love to be able to give our regularly scheduled leaders the entire summer off, we rarely have the amount of volunteers necessary to fill all of their roles for the entire eight-week series. As a result, we attempt to give each small group leader a total of four weeks off throughout the summer.
Once we receive all of the applications, we begin scheduling the volunteers. This is the most difficult part of our Summer Team process. Our Children and Student Team Leader, Nick Blevins often likens it to a scene from the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” We have tried a variety of ways to schedule volunteers, including index cards with names and dates laid out on the floor, white boards that get scribbled and scratched out, etc., but we have found the best option to be the use of a spreadsheet in Google Drive.
Here is how I create the spreadsheet:
- Place the Sunday dates from July-August across the top of the spreadsheet
- Place the grade levels down the left side
- Fill in our regular small group leaders first, taking into account their necessary vacation
- Fill in the rest with the summer team volunteers according to their availability
From there, each week we send a reminder that they are serving on the upcoming Sunday, along with the small group curriculum for that date. We usually share the small group curriculum through a Google Drive Document as well, so leaders can see it ahead of time and prepare, but we also have hard copies available in our environment each week.
Well, that’s it! Our summer programming/summer team process in a nutshell (or rather a 4-part series of wordier than usual posts!) As stated in an earlier post, the months of May and June are quite busy for us as we prepare for our Summer Series, but it always ends up being worth it. Our team just determines to push hard through May and June because we know we’ll have a nice break in July and August!
How about you? What is your process for implementing a summer program and/or summer team of volunteers?