Month: May 2011

Keep your Kidmin safe this summer!

My wife came across this and sent it to me. In all my years in Kidmin, I’ve never read an article as clear as this and something that I feel is absolutely necessary for every one of my volunteer to ready (specifically those who are coming to camp or lock-ins where there is swimming). Of course we use life guards, but I feel that everyone on the team needs to know this information. I’ve heard stories of churches who have lost kids to a drowning at camp. I cannot even imagine facing that kind of tragedy. That’s why we need to be so careful and thorough in training. Click here to read a great article on what drowning actually looks like. Most of us have a Hollywood vision of what drowning looks like that is very far from reality. I know that I did, and I even had lifeguard training (granted it was many years...

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Kidmin Conference in October: Register Today!

You’ve probably heard the buzz about a new Children’s Ministry Conference coming this fall. It’s the Kidmin Conference hosted by Group Publishing. Last summer, I got the honor of hanging out with group for a few days with a bunch of other stellar kidmin leaders to brainstorm what a totally different conference for Chidlren’s Ministry could look like… and Kidmin looks to be exactly that. I’ve also been given the honor of leading a workshop as well as a half-track (essentially a two-part workshop where we really get into the nitty-gritty depth of stuff). So, I’m excited to be a part of the experience. For more info about what Kidmin is going to be like, check out the video at the bottom of this post. You can also visit their site here. What is different about this conference is the highly-relational element. All the speakers and workshop presenters are there to hang out and talk with attendees throughout the entier conference. If you think of a question the day following a workshop you sat in, no worries, just ask the speaker when you see him/her the next day. Kidmin is also making great strides to help attendees connect with each other. The best part about a conference is the relationships you go home with… and Kidmin is helping to empower that. Wow, I’m just getting super excited. I hope that you’ll...

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A little calendar planning love for you my friends!

A couple of weeks ago I got the distinct pleasure of leading some breakouts at the Orange Conference. It was a ton of fun and I know that it was helpful to many. One of the breakouts I led was “How To: Plan a Ministry Calendar.” It was a 45 minute session on ministry planning goodness. I’m not really going to share everything here (since I know that you can purchase the audio of the breakout from Orange), but I will share a few parts. Here is a short section about tips and tricks to planning you ministry calendar: Calendar Tips Let me share with you a few tips to keep in mind while you’re in the calendaring process. Print out your calendar Sure, you can do the whole thing in Google Calendar, iCal or Outlook… but you’re likely going to miss stuff. When you have it all printed out, you’ll see patterns and gaps. You’ll see where you have an extra week because it was a long month or where you’re simply doing too much of one thing. I like to print out an 18 month stack that I give all my staff before we go on the retreat. One page for each month that already has holidays and some of the big stuff. If I get it to them early enough, they can start putting their stuff...

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Thoughts on Summer Camp: Getting Kids to Register

Up to this point I’ve talked about deadlines, registration discounts, and other philosophical points about camp. But what about getting kids to just sign up? Trust me, I know the feeling of checking the website or email every day to see what the grand total is currently up to. I’ve lost sleep worrying if we’d get enough kids to sign up. I remember one camp that required us to pay for 200 to secure the facility. We felt that it was a good long-term option for us even if it meant that we’d take a hit by bringing less the first year. The previous year we had taken a few more than 100 kids, so it was going to be a stretch. I remember clearly… it was 6 weeks before camp and I realized that we only had 35-40 kids signed up. We made it though… ended up taking 170-180 which is what I expected we could muster up. So, do you want to know the secret to getting kids to come to camp? This secret NEVER fails, I promise. If you want to take 15%-30% more kids to camp next year, do what I say and you’ll see it happen. Are you ready? Call the parents and invite them to camp. I’m serious. I know you sent out 30 emails in 15 days. You showed a video in...

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Wired goes iPad all the way!

I love Wired magazine. It’s one of the few magazines I read and probably the only one I read cover to cover. The problem with me is that I’m just not a big fan of magazines anymore. The media I take in is almost 100% digital now. I read my books on my iPad, I get my news from blogs and watch TV and movies through Hulu, Netflix and other services. Someone tell me, why are we still printing magazines? Oh yeah…. so we have something to do on airplanes when we’re not allowed to have electronic devices on. Well, about a year ago, Wired Magazine began publishing their magazine on the iPad. It wasn’t just scanned images from the magazines, but actually additional content as well as videos and links… the way an iPad magazine should look like. The only problem is that the were selling each iPad issue for a couple of bucks. I love Wired, but I’m already paying for the print subscription. Well, that all changed yesterday. IPad subscriptions and because I’m a Wired subscriber, I get all the iPad issues as well. Score! I’m a very happy man who is trashing all my unread magazines in my backpack and on my nightstand. My big question to the Kidmin world. The iPad has been out for more than a year now. Where are the iPad...

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Thoughts on Summer Camp: Catalytic Experiences

As a Children’s Pastor, I’ve gone to summer camp for 9 years. This summer will be my 10th Summer Camp (where I’ve actually taken my own kids to camp). Of the 9 camps, seven of them were what I would call “catalytic experiences.” Two of them were several days of fun. The two “fun” camps were camps that were already planned and I took the kids to, either because we didn’t have enough kids to take on our own or I was new on the job and there wasn’t time to put it together on our own. First of all, I’m not saying that a camp can only be a “catalytic experience” if you plan it yourself. There are a handful of camps out there that serve up a life-changing experience with relevant and challenging content. However, I’ve seen churches plan their own camps that were anything but catalytic. What do I mean by “catalytic?” Essentially a catalyst is a spark or reaction that begins a bigger event or change. I feel that camp is often a catalytic experience for kids… that leads to greater life-change. Over the years of both leading camps and experiencing camps as a kid, I’ve found a few things to be possible at camp. Camp can be a relationally rich experience where kids go from casual acquaintances to life-long friends in only 4 days. Remember, the kids who...

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Thoughts on Summer Camp: Deadlines, Discounts, and Limited Capacity

I have some personal opinions about getting parents to register their kids to camp. I know that others do it differently, but this has worked for me for years. Here’s what I’m taking about. Limited Capacity: If at all possible, I’m always going to put a limit on Camp. Usually this is because I have to pay a deposit in advance and I’d rather maximize that deposit instead of being idealistic and losing a lot of deposit money. I also prefer the limit because there’s something positive about something that is full or sold out. It communicate that it’s probably worth something. I love putting “limited space available” in my promotional materials or even telling parents, “you better register now before all the spaces are gone!” Now, it’s never fun to turn kids away but there are always a few who don’t make it to camp. When this happens, parents learn that we’re not a “last minute program” and they learn to register early which always makes things easier on the staff and volunteers who have to organize taking 50-100 kids to camp. On that last note, I love having registration closed and wrapped up a good month before camp. It gives my staff plenty of time to get everything together. When you have unlimited capacity and open registration up until the end, we’re always scrambling to take care...

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Thoughts on Summer Camp: Determining registration capacity

Last year was really the first year we have taken kids to camp. When you’ve never taken kids to camp before, there are a lot of unknowns. Really, it’s a numbers game. How many kids should you commit to take? What’s a reasonable number? I think that there are a lot of things to consider. How far in advance are you promoting camp? The longer you have to promote, the more kids you’ll be able to bring. Is there a lot of other competition? Are you offering mission trips or several other big summer activities? Parents are going to pick and choose and if you’re doing a lot of other stuff, it will impact the number of kids who will attend. How much does camp cost? Price and value is always subjective. However, the less expensive a camp is, the more kids are likely to sign up. So, in our first year of taking kids to camp, we were able to charge a competitive price of $250 for a 5 day/4 night camp. We began promoting in March and took the kids in June. We probably averaged 100-150 3rd-5th graders each Sunday (the target age for camp), so we picked a conservative number of 60 spots for camp. I really didn’t want us to end up in the position where we were working the phones, recruiting kids to come to camp....

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Thoughts on Summer Camp

Summer is almost here and we’re about six weeks away from taking about 100 3rd-5th graders to summer camp. I’m very excited as summer camp is one of the things I look forward to most every year in ministry. We began recruiting kids to come to camp in March and as of last week, we completely filled up and began a waiting list. I’m so pleased as to how smooth a process getting kids to register to camp has been. This week I want to share several thoughts I have about camp. Some of them are philosophical where others are more practical and administrative in nature. So, I look forward to sharing some of the things I’ve learned over the years as well as the experiences I’ve had this...

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Exporting contact info from a VCard

Last week someone sent me a VCard with a group of contacts. If you’re not sure what a VCard is, click here. Essentially, someone was sharing with me a group of contacts that I needed their contact info from, but I didn’t necessarily want to add them all into my general address book. So, how do you get all the contacts off of a VCard into something handy… like a CSV or spreadsheet? Here’s how I did it (sorry, I’m a Mac user, so if you’re on a PC, I’m sure there is a way… I just don’t know how). I initially tried to import the VCard (which has a file extension of VCF) directly into excel. That didn’t seem to work. When I selected “Open With,” one of the only programs my computer suggested was Address Book. I don’t use address book, but I figured that this would do the trick. Since I’ve not used address book before, all the contacts fromt he VCard populated my address book. Even if you do use address book, I’m pretty sure you can import the VCard into a group and later delete the group after you get the contacts you need. I did a quick Google search and found a free utility called “Address Book Exporter 2.1.2.” Since the only contacts in my address books were the contents of this VCard,...

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