Using Planning Center to Schedule and Plan Your VBS

We've been there…

VBS can be a super-stressful time for administrators and ministry workers. With so many moving parts, it's easy to get lost in the middle of the herds of children, sticky hands, and spilt Cheerios. While we can't put the Cheerios back in the box, we can help you stay organized so you worry less about where you left your stack of registration forms and focus more on those little smiling faces beaming all around you! Here's how:

One of the first things you can do to set yourself up for success is to start early. Our apps let you create and structure your events whenever you want! You can choose to set everything up ahead of time or on the day of the event. For the sake of the children, get started ahead of time!

Since VBS usually takes place across multiple consecutive days, it presents a couple of challenges that you may not encounter when setting up your weekly services and events. Below are some different features you can use in each of our apps to help you pull off a successful VBS.

  1. Use Registrations to sign up those families or volunteers.
  2. Use People to locate and contact your families about VBS.
  3. Use Services to Coordinate and schedule your Volunteers.
  4. Use Check-Ins to safely get your families into VBS.

In this lesson, we'll cover:

Setup Your Apps

The first thing you'll want to do is provide a way for your kids to register. Our Registrations app makes it super-easy for parents to sign up their kids. You can even have your volunteers sign up and let you know they are willing to serve! When you Create Your Event, you will be prompted to set up Attendee types. The app starts with only one (you can add more later), so let’s put “Child” in and set our price. 

When entering your dates and times for the event, be sure to list out your entire schedule for the week of VBS. For example, a three-day VBS might look like this:

Save your times (click Submit), then add any other Attendee Types you need (don't forget about your Volunteers!).  While you're editing your Attendee Types, be sure to collect important information about your attendees that will help you with the setup of your other apps.  For example, if you collect gender and birthdate, then you can separate your Check-In locations using that information as filters.

Update your Event Settings and toggle the 'Published' switch when you are ready to open up your event to the public!

Next, hop on over to Check-Ins and get everything ready for your kids to check-in! For a VBS, you’ll set up your Event, Stations, and Locations a little differently than you would for a Sunday weekly service. 

To Create A New Event, click the Add Event button.


Thanks to the new Daily/VBS update recently announced, Check-ins works great for your VBS!

Since you are collecting birthdate and gender information from the Registrations app (see, aren't you glad you set that up), you can set up Location Filter Logic that will ensure that children are checked into the correct location when your event begins.

Creating Lists and Integrating with MailChimp is a great solution for communicating with parents and volunteers.

Because our People app communicates with our suite of apps, powerful lists can be built. For example, let’s say you want a list of all adults with children that registered for our VBS event. First let's create a new list:

The rules for that list would look like this:

Don’t forget to enable Auto-Refreshing Lists

To make the Check-In process even faster, you can Perform an Action on a List to send all the adults a Mobile Pass.

A great List would be a list that shows you all the adults in a household that has children in it.  Then, shoot those adults and email about your fancy-shmancy Registration form.  Perhaps you could tell them about that Early-Bird Discount you set up on your Registration form.

So, we've built and sent our Registration form, create our list of attendees, and our Check-Ins are all set up.  Next, it's time to organize the volunteers, the people who make this whole VBS possible (and the ones picking up the Cheerios).

Depending on the size of your VBS, Adding a One-Time Special Service could be an option. However creating a New Service Type may be a better option since you can create new teams as needed.  If you go with a new Service Type, don't forget that you can copy a team from one of your other Service Types to save time.

When it comes to Scheduling, we have some excellent lessons to set you up for success.

The Main Event

Well, it's time!  You've spent weeks or months prepping and it's time to launch VBS! Since we've already registered the children, we've scheduled our volunteers, and we sent out nifty Mobile Passes, Check-Ins can be a breeze when you set up a a self-serve Kiosk Station.  With a quick scan, parents can check in their children, print out security labels, and volunteers can print out their name tags.

How do you set up a Kiosk, you ask?  Watch this:

With our Services integration, your volunteers will be checked in as a volunteer so their setup is even faster!

At the end of each night, be sure to Check Out everyone.  Parents should be providing the security tag their received at Check-In and taking home the child with the same security tag.  This ensures the parents take home the same children they brought.

If you open your admin dashboard of Check-Ins, you can Use Powerful Filters to see who's still checked in (to make sure you don't have any stragglers hiding in the baptistry).

Once everyone is checked out and you've decided to do this all over again tomorrow, you won't have to worry about starting a new session or event. It's all taken care of for you!

And there you have it!

Using Registrations, Check-Ins, People, and Services, you've just organized your VBS. Remember, there are never any contracts for using Planning Center products. If you only need the Registrations app for the summer for your VBS and other summer events, sign up, then, if you're not needing it in the fall, you can unsubscribe. 

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