VBS Volunteer Policies, Training, Sessions, and More

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It takes lots of volunteers to run a successful (and relatively stress-free) VBS program. But it’s becoming increasingly important to have volunteer policies, such as background checks, in place to ensure all children are protected and have a wonderful time at VBS.

We asked the community at Answers VBS Discussion Group what policies they have for volunteers. Here’s what they shared:

Teachers need to be church members. And support staff should be regular attendees.
Background check and child protection course are mandatory.
We do background checks and safety training so all volunteers know the emergency action plans and appropriate conduct. We also . . . train ALL volunteers how to share the gospel message with kids. You never know who a kid will latch on to, so everyone should be prepared.
We require that they be members in good standing for six months so that we have a chance to get to know them and know our kids are safe around them.

Most people agree—background checks are vital. It puts you and parents at ease. Other training such as CPR, first aid, sexual abuse prevention, and gospel sharing can also be an asset. Putting policies in place (e.g. a bathroom policy such as that only females can take children to the restrooms, and that, if the child requires assistance, doors must be left ajar) and training volunteers on those policies ensures that everyone knows what is expected, children are kept safe, and everyone has a fun summer experience.

How to Get Volunteers to Come to Training

Amy asked on our Facebook page,

We seem to always have trouble getting a good turnout at VBS volunteer training meetings. Do any of you have any ideas that have worked for you?

Most answers had a common theme—food! (There’s nothing quite like food to bring people together!) But here are some other tips and tricks (edited slightly for clarity) to ensure your volunteers show up for their training session(s).

We have one big meeting with all of them together after a Sunday worship service. We have a lunch, and then go over everything together. We have individual meetings before that with all the leaders and teachers separately. This has been the most successful.
Offer food and prizes, and provide childcare so they don’t have to worry about that. And I’ve made it mandatory. Plus, we’ve used it to update or fill out background checks, and they fill out T-shirt order forms.
We do individual meetings.
Get your youth involved. Our church asks the youth to come "babysit" with one adult in there. They play with the children in the gym or nursery while we meet.
We have a training meeting following the Sunday service with lunch provided and then head straight into a VBS decorating party. We say it's mandatory for all VBS volunteers to come to this, but they don't all come. The food helps! The decorating is a fun time to work together as a team and accomplish a lot.
We have ours right after church on Sunday or before Wednesday night service and order pizza for everyone! They all come for pizza!
Prayer. We pray for God to send the workers. He is always faithful to provide the means for what he wants to accomplish.

Teen Volunteers?

Angela asked the community on our Facebook page,

How does everyone incorporate the teen volunteers? You know, the ones who have graduated out of VBS that are eager to “help.”

Teens can be an enthusiastic and energetic addition to your volunteer list. Answers VBS leaders and volunteers shared these tips for teens who are eager to help (content edited slightly for clarity):

We pair them up with adults in each class and also at each station to help with the kids.
I assign a teen helper to every teacher. We’ve got to train the next generation to become teachers! Lots of our teens like to do games, crafts, and refreshments. Couldn't do VBS without them.
They are our group guides this year.
We have them help out with the adults, going class to class, in the games, and with set decoration. We make sure they get plugged in somewhere.
Group guides, game helpers, craft helpers, and drama cast.
Only our adults can help in VBS, which has classes for babies to adults. We love it and have a wonderful turnout! Adults still love going to VBS.
They help out in all areas of VBS under adult supervision. And just like adults they are never allowed to be alone with children. While you cannot run background checks on them, you can call their references.
We also use them paired with our adult leaders. But we also require the recommendation of our youth pastor, and they must be regular church attendees.
We pair our youth with an adult volunteer. We also do mandatory training before VBS to help them understand their value in the program and to set expectations. It is our job to disciple the next generation.
Mostly they sit with the kids that cause the most issues with being quiet or getting out of control.

Want to get more tips and tricks from other VBS leaders? Join our Facebook group, Answers VBS Discussion Group, to ask questions and share advice with others from across the nation. And start planning your 2019 VBS at AnswersVBS.com.

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