Holiday clubs are familiar to many of us, as a useful tool in our outreach to children and young families. Whether you have a regular rhythm of children’s holiday clubs in your church calendar, or this is the first year you’ve considered one, there are a wealth of resources to support your preparation.
Children’s holiday clubs are usually run over a week, culminating in a Sunday celebration. Some are just a morning or afternoon, others a full day, and you can choose whether they’re at a wide or narrow age range. Establishing the aims of your club early on is essential to making the week a success – you may want to get to know children from your existing clubs or church groups really well, or you may want to attract families who’ve had no contact with you at all. The club will have elements of presenting the gospel to children, but this may be by introducing Christian values, or by explicit bible teaching.
All clubs will seek to create a fun programme where children feel nurtured and valued. But your specific aims might affect not only what you choose to do during the club, but how you advertise it – just at church events, through a school, posters at a local newsagents, etc. It’s important as well to consider how you’ll keep in touch with the children after they’ve enjoyed the club - making invitations to an after school club, or all age service, or adding families to a mailing list about special events, for example.
Using an Olympic theme
Through the school curriculum, community events, on television and in uniformed organisations like Cubs or Brownies, children will be learning all about the Olympics. Adding an Olympic theme to a club will help kids feel that their church is relevant, and make it easier for them to invite friends along. The additional sportier elements of this sort of club make it easy to promote healthy living, and attract more energetic children, not just those who like crafts or songs. You may find that new adult helpers emerge too, who’d be happy to organise races and ball games but aren’t so confident at telling bible stories.
Scripture Union’s ‘On your Marks’
The Scripture Union ‘On Your Marks’ resource adds an Olympic theme by grouping children into ‘Athletes’ Villages’ where they are looked after by hosts. A sports commentator introduces the day, with a quiz, ‘Game, Set and Match’, about the sport of the day. The week is set within the ‘Global Games’, a fictional event in 1st Century Jerusalem.
‘On your Marks’ isn’t the only option, and depending on your group, you may find one of these works for you:
- The ‘Sports Academy Holiday Club’ is a five-day club for 5-11s, based on the story of David’s rise from shepherd boy to king.
- ‘Champions’ is a five session course from Fusion Jamaica, which teaches Olympic values, and is perfect for an after school club, or group where you meet lots of kids who aren’t from a church background. The resource is free to download.
- ‘Sports Fun for Messy Churches’ is a perfect complement to any holiday club, or to use on Sundays. With ideas for all ages, it’s an easy way to get active and include the whole family.
We may receive funding to cover sports equipment and training resources – do contact me (Email: elizabeth.harrison [at] london.anglican.org) if you’re running a club as you may be eligible.
For anyone running a holiday club, or who wants to find out whether it could work well for their church, we’re holding some training sessions with Scripture Union during March. It’s a great refresher for your volunteer teams, and can help churches share ideas locally. Do feel free to invite others in an ecumenical group – often these groups work well together to put on a week-long event. Please contact me if you’d like to come or bring a group; an idea of numbers is helpful.
- 14 Mar, 7.45 for 8pm, Holy Trinity, Twickenham Green TW2 5TS
Transport: 5 min walk from Strawberry Hill station, or on bus routes 110, 267, 281, 490, H22 and R70
- 26 Mar, 7.30pm, St Saviour, Warwick Avenue W9 2PT
Transport: Opposite Warwick Avenue tube station, or a short walk from Paddington station
- There are also Children&Youth seminars at More than Gold’s Get Set training event:
10 March, 10.30am-4.30pm, Holy Trinity Brompton, £10