Saturday, 28 July 2012

How to ... Run a Summer Holiday Club

For two years I wanted to run a church summer holiday club for the local community. For two years I researched and prayed and planned and asked for volunteers. For two years I believed it was out of my reach and beyond my ability to pull off and guess what - it didn't happen.

Then this Easter I had an epiphany; KISS. Keep It Simple Silly.

It's good to aim high, I don't believe in going at anything half hearted; but it's also important to go for what's achievable, and that's what I've done.

I'm no expert, and it could all go wrong yet; but this is my ten step plan to running a summer holiday club for your community.

1. Book a date and time
I looked at my summer holiday plans and decided that being available every Monday afternoon would be easily achievable. Since we normally run a toddler service on Monday afternoons it was merely a case of expanding that.

2. Find a suitable venue
We hold the toddler service in church but with increased numbers, wider age ranges and messy activities I changed the booking to the church hall.

3. Set a budget
I asked the Church PCC to approve a budget of £20 per session. They were more than happy to agree to this. In reality I won't be spending that much for each session and there will be donations received.

4. Select a theme
This was simple this year; with the London2012 Olympics happening I decided to go with that theme incorporating peace and joy.

5. Outline the structure
I went for a very simple structure of having parents/carers attend with their kids. Start with craft and play for an hour, then snack and story, before olympic 'games' and finishing with singing.

6. Plan the activities
I took a part of the theme for each of the five weeks; the rings then mascots, oath and flags and medals. The activities then follow these. We also broke down the 'games' into running, throwing, ball, bat and heptathlon.

7. Invite the community
Use the networks you know to spread the word. I told people by mouth, on Facebook, with a few posters and with fliers in the book bags of the local school. I didn't want to go too wide in case I couldn't cope with the numbers.

8. Ask for volunteers
Having struggled with volunteers in the early planning stage I didn't expect much. But actually people came forward as needed when they saw what I'd planned and how much fun it would be. Teenagers have been a complete blessing and I would recommend seeing if any young people are available.

9. Break down the roles for the sessions
It's important that people know what they're able to do and allocate hem tasks. I'm notoriously bad at this but I'm learning and it's wonderful to know people can take responsibility for something like snacks.

10. Keep Positive
Throughout the process I am sure that my insistence that it would be OK has helped. It's generated interest, encouraged volunteers and even kept me going when I wasn't sure.

Last week we had 62 kids and 18 parents/carers attend the first session. I'm expecting the same on Monday. It was organised chaos and a lot of fun and I'm so pleased I kept going.

If you've ever thought about running a free holiday club for your community then please go for it; it's easier than it looks and it's a whole load of fun.

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