VBS Geek of the Week: Mary Wood

vbsgeekoftheweek1This week’s Geek of the Week is no stranger to the VBS team! For the last couple of years she has been such a great help to us in our Kissimmee, Florida, Preview Event. So, here’s Mary Wood!

1. What is your role in VBS? VBS Director

2. What was your “geekiest” moment? I have too many “geekiest” moments to count:
  • I attended 3 VBS Preview events in one year
  • I promote upcoming VBS at every event possible:  I make my Grand Prix race car to match the theme, my fall festival costume is based on the VBS theme, school chapels, etc
  • I prepare VBS materials & equip leaders to teach overseas.  I have been a part of training teams to Germany, Africa, Nepal, India, & Thailand.
  • I plan for VBS year round – there is always something to be done for VBS
  • I sing the VBS music for 3 hours straight on our 10 hour trip to VBS preview event
  • I give VBS themed items as Christmas & birthday gifts – because they are just cool!
  • Every T-shirt I own is VBS related – I counted before sending this email…20 & still counting
  • I plan lunch breaks & meetings around the VBS reveal.

3. What has been your favorite VBS theme? Each year the VBS materials seem to be better than the previous year.  I like different themes for different reasons:

  • Rambling Road Trip:  My “1st” VBS as a director.  After that week I was hooked & knew VBS was going to be a part of my life every summer.
  • Outrigger Island:  The music was fantastic & I still tear up thinking about the kids singing “The Word”
  • Boomerang Express:  I have always wanted to visit Australia & bringing the daily lessons of Paul’s life back to Jesus made great connections for the kids & adults.
  • Colossal Coaster World:  Theme parks are AMAZING!!!!  I love visiting Disney & it was great brining a theme park to my church.  I am still using the simple truth of “Facing Fears, Trusting God “as I talk to kids and adults regarding the trials of this world.
  • I love them all – VBS is the best & every theme has a special place in my heart & memories.
4. You might be a VBS geek if . . . You might be a VBS geek if…your pastor says to you, “Planning for next year?  We haven’t even had VBS this year!”  or when kids come to your office & it looks like the stage from Saddle Ridge Ranch.


5. What makes you keep doing VBS? I keep doing VBS year after year because I love seeing kids, parents, & leaders get excited about learning about God!  It is great seeing kids come back year after year and getting to see how God is working in their families.  Seeing everybody sing, dance, & learn the same Biblical truth makes me smile inside & out.  It is a true picture of the Body of Christ coming together for the purpose of children hearing about God.  Nothing beats being a part of God’s purpose & plan!  I have the best job at VBS, seeing lives – young & old – changed for eternity.

VBS 2014 Day 3: Was Jesus' Death Real?

candace-1In VBS 2014, Day 3 answers the question, “Was Jesus’ Death Real?” It is a day where kids will read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion from Mark, and will learn what happened next. There have been many theories of what happened to Jesus’ body when He was taken from the cross. Some believe that the disciples hid him away and that He didn’t really die, and others believed His body was stolen from the tomb so that we would think He rose. How do we really know what happened to Jesus’ body? We can find the answers in the Bible. Kids can know that the evidence proves that Jesus’ death was real. There were many witnesses there who could testify to that. We know that Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus’ body to bury, and He did just that. The body could not have been stolen because a huge stone was rolled in front of the tomb, and guards were posted outside to keep anyone from taking the body. Jesus had told His disciples He would die and that He would rise again. He knew what God’s plan for Him was.

How amazing is it that we have a heavenly Father that loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins? I am also thankful that God gave us the Bible to go to when we have questions. In this day and age people are always questioning and trying to prove or disprove what they have been taught. Thankfully we know that every word in the Bible is God’s Truth, and therefore we know that Jesus really died and rose again.

Save the Date for VBS 2014

candace-1VBS 2014? Yes, you read that right. It is never too early to think about VBS 2014. Make sure to mark your calendars for October when you can begin purchasing the VBS 2014 Jump Start Kit. From there the possibilities are endless. You can begin enlisting teachers, thinking about decorations, and just any general planning for VBS. Here at LifeWay, we live VBS 365 days a year and we don’t want you to miss out on any of it. Below you will find a VBS planning calendar. This calendar will help you make plans for your own VBS! As always, if you have any questions, let us know. We love to help!



Arrival and Dismissal

candace-1Arrival and dismissal are important parts of VBS. If parents do not know where to drop off their children and where to pick them up, then they can become frustrated. Clearly marking these areas and creating an organized traffic flow makes the process so much easier. It is also necessary to publicize how arrivals and dismissals will be handled so parents know the procedures ahead of time. At my church the children arrive and are let out at the fellowship hall, but at the end of VBS their parents have to come in and get them in the sanctuary. We try to make sure that parents are aware of this, but there is always someone who goes to the wrong location at the end of the day or the parent who sits in the car waiting for their child to come out to them. For our church, having the parents come in and get their children helps with security and having an organized dismissal time. The children are seated with their classes and each teacher is responsible for the children in her class.

Each church is different in where and how children enter and leave the building. Figure out what works best for your church situation and for the parents dropping off their children. Then make sure the plan is organized and communicated to those working VBS so that they can help steer parents in the right direction. If it is necessary, enlist a team of people to direct traffic, and then have them placed in the church to give directions if the drop-off and pick-up location is a long distance from the place where the children are gathering.

How does your church handle the arrival and dismissal time?

VBS Safety and Security

candace-1VBS is a great outreach tool for the church, and a great time of fun and fellowship for the kids. It is important that during VBS that the church takes precautions with safety and security. In this day and age one can never be too careful. It is the church’s job to help parents know they are doing everything they can to keep their child safe while he or she is in their care.

  1. Many churches have to use classrooms during VBS that are not normally used for children’s classes. If that is the case in your church, take the time to look at the classroom and remove anything that might be a safety issue for the kids. It helps to take a picture of the room before making changes so that at the end of VBS you can put the room back in order.
  2. It is also important to make sure that every leader knows where first-aid kits are located and what the procedures are for an emergency. No one wants anything to happen during VBS, but it is important to be prepared.
  3. Make sure that all equipment is safe and in good working order. This goes for tables and chairs to playground equipment. Get rid of tables and chairs with broken legs or that might be wobbly and check playground equipment for loose screws or broken pieces.
  4. Make sure that all toys have been cleaned and disinfected and then put the supplies out of the reach of children.
  5. In terms of security, make sure that passenger loading and unloading areas are clearly marked.
  6. Provide security wristbands or some type of tag or card to ensure safe and appropriate release to parents.
  7. Create a two-person rule so that there is always at least two adults with anyone under the age of 18 at all times.
  8. Only release children to those who are authorized to pick them up.
  9. Have a security team monitor the facility during VBS.
  10. Complete background screening on all volunteers.

4 Things to Remember for VBS Registration!

candace-1VBS registration is important to any successful VBS. It helps you estimate how many children you need to prepare for, and it is also an important tool to use during follow-up. Here are some hints to make registration easy and useful.

  • Pre-register your church kids. Any time that you can pre-register kids, it helps you estimate the number of children you need to prepare for and it helps to speed up the registration process on the first day of VBS. Set up a registration booth outside the sanctuary or in the welcome center two to three weeks before VBS to allow time for church members to pre-register their children.
  • Online registration. Some churches offer online registration. This allows parents to register their children at their convenience and if you have a link on your website for online registration, it can help those who will be visiting your church to pre-register.
  • Offer registration every day of VBS. You will have some children who only come to VBS one day, and for some it may be the very last day. Therefore make sure you have registration every day so that you can gather information from every child who visits your church.
  • Get complete information. I know on the morning of VBS parents are in a hurry and children want to get to their rooms, but make sure that registration forms are completely filled out. Any information that is left off makes it harder to follow up with the child and his or her family after VBS is over.

VBS Registration Flyers can be purchased at your nearest LifeWay store or online. Each flyer features a customizable Colossal Coaster World announcement on one side and a ready-made registration form on the other. Flyers are perforated so parents can return the registration form and keep the announcement as a VBS reminder. You can also find registration forms on the Administrative Guide CD-ROM in the Director’s Helps folder.

LifeWay Kids Chalk Wall

candace-1In recent months there have been a lot of changes occurring on the Kids floor at LifeWay. One of my favorite changes is the addition of the chalk wall. Chalkboards and chalk walls are fun ways to be creative. I have to give credit to Pam, Courtney, Stacey and Katie who worked hard on this! Our wall is full of words, quotes, and Bible verses that remind us of kids. Our work is all about teaching the gospel to kids and this is a great reminder. What are some of your favorite kid quotes?


Have You Started Planning for VBS 2013?

candace2Have you started making plans for your VBS this summer? I hope you’re answer is yes! But, it not don’t worry, you can catch up! There’s a great Planning Calendar in the Administrative Guide for Directors to help ensure that you don’t miss a step in your planning. Below I’ll list a few things that you should be thinking about in the planning schedule if your VBS is three to four months away. The Planning Calendar goes all the through to the end of your VBS, so be sure to check it out! An organized VBS goes so much smoother for those involved!

Six to Nine Months Before VBS

(Dates _________________________)

  • Set up a prayer team. See pages 58-60.
  • Meet with church leaders to discuss dates, budget, goals, and how children can plug in.
  • Place VBS dates on the church calendar.
  • Determine the groups for VBS—preschoolers, children, youth, adult, and special education.
  • Prepare and submit the budget to the church for approval.
  • Set goals for enrollment, attendance, prospects, and offering.
  • Order the VBS 2013 Colossal Coaster World Sampler (005487573) or Super Sampler (005487652). (Use the order form in the VBS Catalog, call 1-800-458-2772, order online at www.lifeway.com/vbs, or purchase it at your nearest LifeWay Christian Store.)

Four to Six Months Before VBS

(Dates _________________________)

  • Contact your local associational office for VBS associational training dates. Put the dates on the church calendar.
  • Begin enlisting leaders for Bible Study and other rotation sites. (See pages 28-29.)
  • Estimate VBS enrollment and determine class and department organization.
  •  Enlist a VBS Promotion Team Leader and begin development of a promotional strategy. (See pages 38-40 for additional information.)

Three to Four Months Before VBS

(Dates _________________________)

  • Enlist a VBS Records Team Leader.
  • Enlist a VBS Follow-up Team Leader.
  • Enlist a technology team to take pictures and video, play DVDs, print materials from the enhanced CDs, and so forth.
  • Create a VBS Calendar of Events and place those events on the church calendar. Distribute a copy of the calendar to leaders as they are enlisted.
  • Schedule training meetings and develop agendas.
  • Begin background checks for all volunteers.
  • Guide the VBS Promotion Team to present a promotion strategy. (   See the Promotion Helps folder on the enhanced CD for five promotional skits that may be used with puppets or a small cast.)
  • Plan a VBS Kickoff Event. See pages 41-42 for ideas.
  • Continue to enlist directors and leaders for Bible Study and the rotation sites.
  • Plan pre-enrollment activities.

Preview Recap: Nashville & Kissimmee

candace2The VBS team has been traveling since January, and we just had our last VBS Preview event. It has been a great month getting to share Colossal Coaster World with all of you and hearing about the different things you all do in your churches for VBS. This post will mostly have pictures, so enjoy and begin making plans to attend a VBS Preview next year!

 Welcome to the theme park! I love how this set looked in the Design Lab at Nashville!


Everyone loved the Tilt-a-Whirl Fun Mix Snack and the smell of popcorn filled the air!


The winners of the Colossal Coaster Cars Snack Decorating Contests!




  Here’s a panorama view of the Design Lab and Creative Zone at the Preview in Kissimmee.


Can you find Melita in this set?


The Design Lab Team


The Creative Zone Team (minus Carol who is not pictured)