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Tips to keep your VBS program safe and fun

For the outreach potential and good plain fun, there's no beating Vacation Bible School (VBS). But let's face it, much of the program's ministry value would be lost if a child were harmed or lost. Review these simple tips to ensure your program is as safe as it is fun.

Child Safety

  • Screen your workers. This is especially important if you're using volunteers who have never worked at the church before. Even "nice" people can have a questionable past.

  • Develop sign-in and sign-out procedures. On the registration form, ask for a list of approved pickup people. Then when an adult arrives to pick up the child, ask for proof of identification. You might also consider using security tags or bracelets.

  • Provide adequate supervision. Ideally, you should have one adult for every four to eight children.

  • Follow the three-person rule. Never allow one adult to work alone with one child. Every teacher should work with two or more children, or two adults should work with one child. Always work in groups of three or more.

Injuries and illness

  • Make sure all decorations are safe. Decorations create an exciting atmosphere that the kids enjoy. But make sure all decorations are safe. Be especially careful of anything that might create a slipping, falling or tripping hazard.

  • Inspect playground equipment regularly. Make sure all play areas are safe. For specific tips on finding hidden safety traps at your church, read Spring walkabout.

  • Inspect and clean toys and decorations after every use.

  • Have an onsite nurse available in case anyone is injured.

Food allergies or reactions

  • Ask parents to fill out an allergy/medical release form when they register.

  • Always tell parents what foods you will be serving, and be prepared to serve different foods to children with allergies.

Going offsite

  • Screen your drivers. For details on using volunteer drivers, see Please drive safely.

  • Keep parents in the loop. Secure signed permission slips and waivers.

  • Have two adults in every vehicle: one to drive and one to supervise the children. Ideally, adults should be trained in first aid.

  • Take a file with parent authorizations, emergency contact information and medical information for each child.

  • Have a first-aid kit in each car.

Training

  • Designate one adult to be a safety officer for the week. This person should review all rooms and play areas for safety.

  • Train VBS personnel in church safety policies and what to do if an emergency arises.

Because VBS is so much fun for the children, it can be one of your best outreach events of the year. But fun should never come at the expense of safety. Take the time to plan ahead, and you'll reduce your worry as well as your risk.


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate safety precautions for programs and activities.