Top 5 Summer Connection Ideas for Kids (Social Distancing Edition)
Summer is typically a great time for churches to connect with families in their community by providing fun opportunities for children like Vacation Bible School, Day Camps, Movie Nights, and more. But this summer is different. COVID-19 has shut down much of what we know as “typical.” Some communities are still on stay-at-home orders; others are cautiously opening with many precautions and restrictions in place. Churches moved to online worship this Spring, and for the most part, summer programming and activities have been canceled. Many families are staying home in quarantine, others are trying to find ways to still have a family vacation while being safe and protected from the virus. Whether your area is on lockdown or families are able to travel this summer, staying connected is crucial. Here are 5 fun ways to keep families connected—even from a distance.
1. Backyard Bible Camp
At my church, Southside United Methodist Church, in Jacksonville, Florida, our Children’s Ministry is hosting a Backyard Bible Camp. Families sign up to receive the “Backyard Bible Kit” which includes a loaned copy of an age-appropriate Children’s Bible, a weekly reading guide for families, and craft or activity supplies. Volunteers deliver these kits to each family—it’s very exciting for the children when someone shows up at your doorstep! Each week on social media and during the online children’s church time on Sundays, youth and young adult skit team members, the “Backyard Bible Crew” show up to chat with the kids and keep them engaged throughout the week. There are also opportunities for families to submit videos about their experiences to share on social. This not only keeps children connected to the church throughout the summer, but families are developing an at-home Bible time as well.
2. Pen Pals/Zoom Pals
Many elderly or at-risk church members will choose to stay home this summer. Try pairing children with older adults as pen pals. If possible, the child and older adult can meet up in a Facetime or Zoom call and share stories. This provides a connection for those that are staying home, even while others may be away on vacation, as well as an intergenerational connection which is much needed in today’s culture.
3. Children-led Worship
This is a good idea for older children to serve younger children in your ministry. Ask older children to provide a video of them teaching a worship song (maybe even ones with movements) and share on social media. You can even coordinate this with your worship team and have them play the song during Sunday worship and shout out the children to do the movements at home that they learned earlier in the week!
4. Online Scavenger Hunt
A super-easy way to do a Family Fun Night with your church families is to host an Online Scavenger Hunt. Go live on Facebook or Instagram (be sure to announce it ahead of time) and show them what to look for in their homes. Make sure to use fairly basic household items. Encourage them to find the items then post a photo of what they found in the comments or use a hashtag. There are many other ideas for online scavenger hunts you can find online as well.
5. Family Outreach Ideas
Some families are able to volunteer to drop off groceries, do yard work, collect items for a local food pantry, or even organize drive-by parades to “visit” your elderly members. You can also create a children’s prayer team and encourage children to pray for each other and the needs of the church and community.
These are just a few of the ways you can engage with children and families this summer. Most parents and kids are sure to appreciate any effort you make to create and maintain a connection with them during this time. What about you? Do you have any ideas about how to stay connected and keep kids engaged this summer? Share with us in the comments or in our Church Juice Facebook group!