Finding volunteers is no simple task. Finding good volunteers? It’s like a treasure hunt. But finding good volunteers willing to serve in the summer? Now we’re talking about needles in a haystack! We’ve been there, and we know a ton of other people who have been there, too. And what we’ve found is that the most important thing you can do with a good volunteer willing to serve in the summer is train them well.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the four best tips for training VBS volunteers.
1. Cast vision. Before you get into the logistics and expectations of camp, you need to spark emotional interest in your volunteers. Now, this doesn’t have to be a sermon. This doesn’t have to be a 10-point email; in fact, the more concise and clear you are, the better. For example: “Thank you so much for giving us your time at VBS. You choosing to show up means that kids in our community can learn more about loving God and loving others.” It’s also helpful to choose a specific story—maybe someone in the past—whose life was changed by VBS. Show their picture and share the details of their experience. Remember, be clear and concise. Write out what you say before you say it.
2. Be clear about expectations. It’s tempting to gloss over the details of a time commitment when you’re trying to get people to agree to something. Saying, “Yeah, we’ll need you a couple of hours the second week of June,” sounds a lot more doable than, “We’ll need you June 2-7 from 9:00am-12:00pm.” It’s scary to put it all out there, but it’s important, too. Be clear about exactly what you need from them and when. Write it in an email or give it to them on a handout before they commit.
3. Put people in the right place. Not everyone is wired to be a classroom teacher. In your training, define all the potential volunteer roles your VBS offers. Be specific, giving commitment requirements and role descriptions. Greeters, kitchen staff, craft leaders, game instructors . . . there is a place for everyone to serve. But you want to make sure everyone is serving in the best capacity for their skill set.
4. Have a meeting. This is where it all comes together. We know it’s a lot to ask of your volunteers, but a meeting before your event starts will have a huge impact on your VBS. And it will make the experience better—for everyone. Ask your volunteers to stay after church or come in early one Sunday when they’re already in the building. Providing food or snacks is always a way to get people to show up. Decorate using your VBS décor. Introduce the theme. Cast vision. Communicate the specific expectations. Introduce the roles. And whatever you do, don’t forget to say THANK YOU!